Moving to Denver last year came with many financial changes, the worst of which was higher rent, but the hardest was paying for a dog sitter. Up until that point, any time I worked or went on vacation I always had Bubba taken care of by either my mom or a string of friends. In return, I often watched their dogs when they went out of town. It was nice to be able to leave her in the hands of someone I knew would love her like their own. Moving to Denver changed that. I had to start relying on people I didn’t know and people who didn’t know Bubba. On top of that, the price tag wasn’t cheap. I paid $35/night and $16 a walk every time I had to go to work as well as any time I traveled. I love my dog, she was and is worth every penny, BUT IT STILL ADDS UP!!
In August of last year, I decided to offset the cost of hiring a dog sitter by becoming one myself. I already take Bubba out, feed her, and walk her on the daily… why not add another set of paws to the mix?
Now, Denver is a city FULL of dogs and unfortunately, dog walkers, but I realized I could probably steer a few clients way by undercutting the competition. I joined Rover (More info & Tips below), an easy to use dog walking/sitting app, and set my prices $5 under anyone who lived within a few blocks of me. I didn’t have any “real” reviews (you can have friends and family write in reviews but they don’t count as “verified” stays) so when creating my profile, I made sure to make it as lengthy and detailed as possible, adding a bunch of pictures with me and other dogs. It wasn’t long before I got my first client, Tex, a 60lb 4-year-old German Sheperd mix.
It is important to point out that while living in Denver, I was also living in a tiny home. A tiny 230 sq ft home with very little space to break up a possible dog fight that might ensue with territorial pups. I asked the owner to meet Bubba and me at a park to ensure our dogs would get along. Tex danced around Bubba while she sniffed the grass and ignored him completely. Within 5 minutes it was clear that neither dog would have an issue with the other. I booked the client.
Tex, the Squirrel Chaser
A few days later Tex was dropped off at my house. He came with a crate, toys, food, and treats as well as directions NOT to let him roam off-leash. My dad happened to be visiting that week so after the dogs got settled in the yard and house, we took them on a walk to the park. All went well until Tex spotted a squirrel and took off dragging my dad behind. Clearly, that leash rule was a necessity! After a few more squirrel encounters we headed back towards home happy not to have caught any squirrel trophies.
A couple days later, Tex’s owner picked him up and a few days after that I had $48 deposited into my account. Tex became a bit of a regular and I quickly got used to walking him and avoiding his triggers. (Side note – Tex was also featured in my recent Marketwatch video. Not bad for a rookie!)
Continue reading “Red Rover, Red Rover, Send All Your Dogs Over!! Lessons & Tips From My Dog Sitting Side Hustle…”