Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oh - And More Exciting Things!

In all my "Rah-Rah-Rah" about NAPPS and their Annual Conference, I forgot to mention some of the exciting new things!

  • I was elected to serve as a Board Member on the NAPPS Board of Directors! This is a volunteer position that will allow me to share my voice in shaping the future of the pet sitting industry. I am so pleased to be a part of such a professional, caring group. I have learned so much from NAPPS that has helped me provide the best care to the pets entrusted to me, and I am very happy to give back with my time and knowledge.
  • I also received the NAPPS' President's "Commitment to NAPPS Award" for 2010! My beautiful plaque says: "In recognition of your tireless commitment to NAPPS and your fellow members".
  • I'll soon be sharing some information about a wonderful organization that helps pet owners nationwide retrieve lost pets. MORE INFO TO COME!
  • I have pages and pages of notes and information to share with pet parents. Expert information, web sites, training tips, and more are coming soon to help you with your pet peeves! (Sorry...couldn't resist that little pun.)
  • If you haven't already become a fan of Your Best Friend Pet Sitting on Facebook, what are you waiting for? You can also find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.
February bookings are flying in, March bookings are well on the way, and it's not too soon to be thinking about Memorial Day!

Very Exciting Things!

I just returned from the Annual Conference for the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. Wow - what an event!

If you're unfamiliar with NAPPS, I recommend checking out their web site and learning a little more about them. Sadly, some people think pet sitting is an easy gig and they invest $5 bucks in some home-printed business cards and think that qualifies them to access people's homes and care for their furry family members. Granted, those folks usually aren't around for long once they realize that it really is hard work, and more and more customers insist on insurance, bonding, and some kind of qualification in order to hand over the keys to their home to a stranger!

This is where NAPPS comes in. Being a member of a professional pet sitting organization, networking with other pet sitters across the country, learning from them, and having access to a wealth of information can set apart the "pet checkers" from the professional pet sitters.

At the conference, I attended 2.5 days' worth of educational seminars led by leaders in the industry (as well as professional speakers and educators from other industries who lent their expertise). I talked with dozens of other pet sitters who shared their ideas on how I can improve my service to the clients I serve and their wonderful pets. I took 20 pages of notes! By investing in my business, I am investing in all of the pets I care for. Everything I learned will be used to make me a better pet sitter, to delight my clients with my service, and to provide top-quality care to the animals entrusted to me when their Mommies and Daddies are away.

Some of the things I learned include:
  • How to help keep clients' homes secure and safe
  • Helping clients deal with the end of a pet's life in a loving way
  • Training tips from the experts
  • Stellar customer service and communication skills
  • Laws affecting animals and their caregivers
As you can see, there is so much more to pet sitting than "how to walk a dog"! And I am delighted to be able to share what I learned with my clients.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pet Sitting in the Snow

In the summer, when the weather is warm and sunny, and the Poconos are beautiful beyond compare, I get jealous looks when I say "I'm a pet sitter, I spend a good part of the day outside with dogs!" And then winter hits the Northeast, and my friends are in their cozy offices while I'm outside shivering!

But it's not all bad if you're prepared. It didn't take me long to learn that good cold-weather wear is a must, and makes the job so much easier. I wear a hat a scarf of course. But I also picked up cleats that I pull on to the bottoms of my boots outside to give me traction on the ice. Hand warmers can provide some extra comfort in the cold. I lucked out and found some good gloves that aren't so bulky I can't snap a leash onto a collar, but also keep my hands warm. (Mittens aren't always easy for a pet sitter to use - we need our fingers to get keys in locks and get leashes on dogs!)

Recently I was at a client's house, and I noticed that the indoor temperature was colder than it should have been. I gave them a quick call, and they called their fuel supplier. Turns out their fuel supplier forgot to make his December delivery and they were out of gas! With the freezing temperatures, they could have come home to frozen or burst pipes had I not been there.

Being a member of pet sitting organizations like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) and Professional United Pet Sitters (PUPS) allows me to learn from other pet sitters. I had heard enough stories to know that a cold house is not only uncomfortable for the animals, but potentially disastrous for the pipes (or even the furnace), so I didn't hesitate to call my client to let them know. They were very grateful that I knew enough to call and not just dismiss it or ignore it. When I checked back later, the heat was on and all was well. I was able to rest easy that night, and my clients were too!

How are you coping with the winter weather?