Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by joeb7th, Jul 30, 2006.

  1. joeb7th

    joeb7th New Member

    I feel the need to share my story here on this board as it may be of use to several of you down the road and help change your life for the better in regards to employment.

    I acquired Fibro type symptoms 8 months ago and lost my job as I was unable to work due to the body pain and all the other horrible symptoms I was suffering from.

    Disability doesn't come close to paying the bills ( and it will end soon ) and my family and I are still hurting and falling behind financially.

    I had to come to terms with the fact that this horrible ( whatever-it-is) wasn't going to go away so I started thinking about a new way to make a living.

    What I came up with "may" be of use to some of you out there in looking for a new way to get by that is more accomodating than your present line of work. Or it could just be a part time thing to help with the bills.

    I worked for many years as a concierge/bellman at Doris Day's Doggie hotel in California. While there I often took side "pet sitting" jobs as this was a highly asked for service there. It was extra cash and it was fun.

    I have recently started a small venture doing this on my own. I am not making much money doing this YET ( my between Jr. and SR. year college son is grabbing all the work ) but it is amazing how many calls I am getting already.

    I live in a resort area and I don't know if this would work in your area but it looks like this is going to be a great thing for me as I build this into almost full time work.

    The reason is I can sit down and rest anytime my body feels like it with these dogs. It doesn't require much physical work and yet the dogs do get you out to this is a good thing for your daily exercise.

    There is no stress, no deadlines to meet, you can work as much as you get calls but you can also adjust this to your own body needs.

    I go to hotels as well as bring dogs home. Having dogs at home creates more hours and I can also go on the computer and clean house and do other things while I am home caring for these dogs as well.

    You may not always need a yard. An apartment with a patio will do for small dogs.

    Here is how I started this. I went to 'Staples" ( you could go to Kinkos or any business card printer ) and picked out their cheapest cards that would allow a cute picture of a dog on it with my personal information.

    Total costs for 500 cards was about $35.

    I was allowed only one ink color but pet owners don't care if it's a one or two color card.

    On this card I put "Beachwalks and Bellyrubs" Pet Sitting Service. I put my personal name on this with my phone number. I stated that I had experience and references. I "did not" list prices.

    I should have put "my place or yours" but will do this on my next batch.

    I then bought 15 or 20 little clear plastic card holders for this size card ( this is my own experienced secret ) and I went to all the hotels in my area that take dogs and introduced myself as a pet sitter and asked them if they wouldn't mind taking some of my cards for their dog owning guests who may want a break from their dogs during their stay. Every hotel was delighted to have these !

    The card holder is sooo important because it gives the front desk people something to hold the cards neatly, display the cards professionally on a counter top and keep these cards organized. Otherwise they get a rubber band around them and get thrown in a desk !

    I was a concierge...I know what happens to a large stack of loose business cards. If I don't get a holder for them...I am certainly not going to lay them on a counter loosely so they can get scattered around. Buy the holders!

    I have not yet taken my cards to vet offices, dog grooming salons or to pet stores...but I will as I feel better.

    Also, make up a little background card on yourself with general info on this like length of time in area, perhaps a couple or more personal references and your general service offer to these pet owners.

    I will actually sit in a guest's room for a couple of more hours ( take a book, watch TV, do your bills ) the owners don't care if their pet is being watched over responsibly. I always give the dog or dogs a short walk or two in this time unless the owners tell me not to or they just did this before I arrived.

    In Doris Day's hotel this is down to a science and we almost always stay in the rooms as we were so well checked out by the hotel owners before hand.

    More and more however, the guests are wanting me to come to the hotel and pick up their dogs and bring them home versus staying in their rooms.

    But these other hotels are new at this and they are just getting the ins and outs of what a pet sitter does and they haven't got the trust factor yet. When they get to know you through several sittings they get more relaxed and call you more. It all makes sense.

    Also, you are a private contractor. You do not work for the hotel nor are they responsible for you. Even at Ms. Days hotel we were working off hotel hours when we did this so the hotel was not a party to the pet sitting contract. The service they offered their guests was simply a recommended pet sitter list.

    But more and more I am taking the dogs from the hotels and walking them at parks and then bringing them home.

    I charge $10 an hour ( going up to $11 because of the insane gas prices ) and $15 for two dogs an hour. The second dog is discounted to $5 an hour. I will be offering all day rates in the future like $75 for the day which may be 10 hours but this is actually the way to go because you save on chopping up your schedule with drives here and there. I plan on taking 2 to 4 dogs a day in home eventually. I almost always get paid "cash" at the end of a short or one day sit. Locals will often offer checks. If I know they have been here a long time I will take these.

    I make sure I have all the needed supplies and food available. And I get as much info on these dogs as I can before I pick them up. Every dog has different needs in regards to diet etc. You must be responsible about this. These dogs are as precious to these owners as if they were their children. It is a very professional and serious responsibility.

    Also I give the owners my numbers to reach me at any time and get numbers for them also. I give my address ( sometimes "they" drop the dogs off as they want to see where they are being cared for.

    I also have to be careful which dogs I "mix." I am very reluctant to take breeds that are too alpha. I don't really want Pitt Bulls or Rotties with smaller more susceptible breeds. By themselves? Fine...just can't risk one of my charges getting hurt like this.

    Lets see....Hmmmm...You might want to get an answering machine. I can't tell you how many calls I got when I just stepped out for a minute. Cell phones are even better.

    I don't know if my sharing of this will actually help anyone here or spark them into at least thinking about doing something like this...but it looks like it is going to work for me. And I feel sooo much for everyone on this board that something told me to tell you every detail about how this new career is taking off and how to do it.

    I had some experience doing this before...but if I hadn't I would have loved to have had this posted so that I could see some other way to do something for funds that wasn't too demanding and stressful.

    Lastly, if you are a single mom or careful about putting your name out there and telephone number. You might want a seperate number for this and don't list your address. I have never sat for anyone in a hotel setting that was weird or ever had a problem in this way and I have done this hundreds of times. But offering services out of your have to be more organized in a way that kind of screens who calls you and protects your private information. Hope this sparks something for someone here. JB
    [This Message was Edited on 07/30/2006]
    [This Message was Edited on 07/31/2006]
  2. JulieO

    JulieO New Member

    Awesome idea!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to post this!
  3. blessedmom2four

    blessedmom2four New Member

    thanks for sharing this idea with all of us sick but desperate to make money fibro/cfs sufferers
  4. Lolalee

    Lolalee New Member

    Joe, I just want to thank you for sharing so much information about your venture. It truly can be a lucrative job opportunity. My husband's cousin is a part-time dog-walker/sitter and charges a lot less than you and still makes about $20,000.00/yr for just a few hours a week. She admits that she should be charging more but she has established a clientele and is content for now to keep things the way they are. I would imagine that the rate you charge would depend on the area of the country you work in, i.e. New York vs. small town, U.S.A.

    Best of luck to you. Sounds like you'll be a busy guy taking care of the pups and writing about their antics. Don't overdo it...take care of yourself.

  5. 69mach1

    69mach1 New Member

    alot of people are doing house sitting with the animals in the home overnight at the owners home...and get like 35 dollars a they have someone to watch the house and feed their animals...

    there are doggy companies that will come walk your dogs also...come to the peoples homes...etc...i can not remember the rate...but this one company is paying people to walk dogs like 10 dollars an hour per dog...

  6. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    THIS works out for you. Nice of you to share your expertise.
  7. pam_d

    pam_d New Member

    Lots of folks here might want to try something like this. Glad you posted it!

    Hope business flourishes for you,
  8. joeb7th

    joeb7th New Member

    One of you asked about insurance regarding doing a business like this.

    I must admit this is an area I am not well informed about.

    I know I have to get it. Things do and will happen with dogs. I have to call and check on this this week.
    But starting on a shoe string with not that much money coming in...I and others like me certainly can't afford much.

    I suppose it would be a business liability type insurance.

    Again, I will have to check this out. Very important question though and I should have addressed this in my original post.

    Dog sitting without it is probably not the responsible thing to do. However, you could have a "waiver" form that says you don't have this ( due to prohibitive costs? ) and the dog owners have the option and foreknowledge of this and they agree to sign off on this agreeing to wave this and assuming this risk without you being insured.

    Also, I think $35 a night for dog sitting and house sitting is way too underpaid. Maybe in a rural area this would be okay for a single person...however in insane rents and cost-of-living California you simply can't take on 12 hours of responsibility like this and be away from your family for ...what? $35 ???

    You not only are providing responsible care for their dogs in the absolute most convenient location for the dog and the owners ( and not your own which would be your home ) but you are taking on the added responsibility of watching their home!

    A wealthy local resident in Carmel who used to drop into the Cypress Inn for cocktails tried to get one of our hotel staff members to do this in her multimillion dollar home with 3 PETS!

    She also wanted to pay this worker something like $35 for a day and night. She would have to feed the cat and dogs and walk the dogs in the morning and check on them during the day and take care of them at night!

    For $35 a day? That women was trying to save the $50 each charge for having her pets in a kennel all day.

    The staff at the hotel was very put off by this person and her offer. Nobody said anything to her but we all made sure she didn't insult any of us with her cheapness again. This employee told her she would do it for $75 a night saving her half off her kennel bill. The millionaire type lady gasped...but ended up putting her pets in a kennel anyways!

    But she wouldn't admit that she did this. Just never brought it up again.

    NO, you have to make $10 an hour minimum here in California just to make a "partial" dent in your rent. But maybe that's just here.

    I know for a fact that in super plush , high end resorts like Scottsdale, Arizona and Palm Desert, CA. and Beverly Hills pet sitters charge $15 to $20 an hour!

    I have met people who do this and gave me their cards. They told me that being on call is a very precious commodity and that you usually only get part time hours like 2 to 3 in a day from these pet owners.

    If you look at any other responsible service that will drop everything on 30 minutes notice and "come and get" your will see that this is not an unreasonable charge, especially in high end areas where they are paying $300 to $1,000 a night for hotel rooms!
  9. joeb7th

    joeb7th New Member

    This is the kind of stuff doctors and others we must see have no clue about and don't want to know you get by financially when suffering from something this disabling.

    It's time we started helping each other in these other ways. We have to take our needs in our own hands. The government and doctors will never be that sympathetic to these needs why not be creative and see how "we" can help each other?

    There are some but far to few support groups out there for fibro and fibro type sufferers.

    I have seen A A group members do so much for their own suffering brohtren and sisters. Everything from help with jobs to housing !

    I sure wish we were that organized .
  10. darvick

    darvick New Member

    I was just wondering, if you apply for disability how can we do this? If I got caught there goes everything, not to mention jail lol
  11. joeb7th

    joeb7th New Member

    You report it. I wouldn't book myself to much until your diability runs out as mine is this month. At that time I really go for it. Right now I am pretty much just setting things up.

    No, don't jeopardize your disability.

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