Tuesday, January 31, 2012

NAPPS Annual Conference, and Investing in Clients

I just returned from Las Vegas where I attended the annual conference for the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. It was fantastic! I got so much information and education in just three days, not to mention networking, learning about new products from vendors who attended, and gathering tons of ideas. I said it on my Facebook page but it bears repeating: My clients invest in me all year. This is one way that I can invest in THEM and their furry family members.

So here are some fun tips and  facts I learned!

1.    If you are going away, put a few washcloths or t-shirts in your bed as you sleep to mark them with your scent. Put them in a plastic bag and tie it to keep the scent in. Then when you are away, your pet sitter can take out a scent-marked item each day to help reassure your pets and let them smell, if not see, your presence.

2.   Domestic cats are descended from the African Wildcat. These cats were mostly desert-dwellers. In the desert, rivers and pools were to be avoided due to crocodiles, and standing puddles of water were usually not drinkable. So while cats got most of their moisture from prey, they learned to get a little extra moisture from dripping leaves. To this day, many cats like to drink from faucets or fountains that drip, rather than from a bowl. (I always wondered why my cats were so fascinated with the faucet!)

3.  When was the last time you saw a dog or cat eagerly running to a corn field to eat corn? Never! Cats and dogs are not designed to eat corn - it is a cheap filler and NOT suitable for feeding to your dogs and cats. If your pet food contains corn, get rid of it!

This is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg of what I learned. Plus I got to network with the experts, authors, and leaders in the industry, so if you have questions I can't answer, I probably know someone who can!

On another note, I get calls and emails from folks who want to be pet sitters and start their own businesses. I think that's great! It's a much-needed service! But when I recommend they join a professional pet sitting organization like NAPPS, where they would have access to a ton of free information, resources, contacts, and business forms, many say "$160 per year! That's too much to spend." I only have one reply to that:  "If you can't invest $160 in your business, please rethink being a pet sitter". How can a pet sitter expect clients to invest in them, when they can't even spend $160 to kick start their business the right way?

Thankfully times are changing, and pet guardians expect a LOT out of the person caring for their pets. There are always a few pet owners who shrug and say "It's just a dog" or "My cat is really independent, as long as she has a pile of food and a bucket of water, we can leave her alone". Maybe they will pay a bargain-basement sitter with no insurance, training, or a real, tax-paying business. But for those who cherish pets as part of the family, including me, they want more. And they deserve more. Their pets deserve more.

That's why I LOVE it when owners ask me for references and details on my training and experience. It tells me that they love their pets enough to expect only the highest quality care for their babies. That's what I intend to deliver, for every client, every time. Look into your pet's eyes. Don't they deserve the best?

Monday, January 16, 2012

We've been so lucky here in Northeast PA to have a relatively dry and not-too-cold winter (although that seems to be changing!) I try to stay informed about weather issues and how they can affect pets. So I was interested to see this article cross my virtual desktop today:

Dog Feet Have Special Blood Vessels That Protect Them From Cold: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/13/dog-feet_n_1204709.html

That's good to know!  Although I still err on the side of caution and I don't let dogs linger too long outside when the weather conditions can create a hazard to safety or their health. The same goes for very hot days too, some dogs just can't handle the heat.

I think this winter I finally have the cold-weather gear I need. Seems like every year I'd be missing some component, but this year I've had occasion to bundle up, and I stayed warm outside, so I think I'm set.

The holidays are over, and that means two things - folks planning cruises somewhere warm, and families planning summer vacations. Don't forget to book pet care, too! Give a call or send an email, we'll get you scheduled for pet sits and you can cross that off your to-do list!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012 Here We Come!

What a year 2011 has been. Your Best Friend Pet Sitting celebrated it's 5th year in business - can you believe it? This has been a year of feeling immensely grateful and appreciative to all of my clients who trust me with their furry (and finned, scaled, and feathered!) family members. When you can go to work every day feeling grateful for the opportunity, regardless of what you do, you will put your all into it. That's my theory, anyway!
In addition, in 2011, I became a Certified Pet Sitter through the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters! This was an immensely challenging process. I had no idea! The certification is an in-depth course on pet care, nutrition, illness, as well as good business practices and principles. I learned so much practical information that I can bring to my clients and their pets, from observing the more subtle signs of illness in dogs and cats, to methods of communicating with animals to help bond with them and understand their needs. I can't say enough good things about this course!

In 2 weeks I'll be off to the annual conference for NAPPS. This is where I get a lot of great information, ideas, and education. My clients invest in me year-round. I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't invest in THEM. I want to be the best sitter I can be, and that means learning, learning, learning. It never stops, it's all part of the process.

What else is in store for 2012? Stay tuned and find out! You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter!