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?


  1. The washcloth and T shirt is a great idea. Next time you come here there will be 3 "Judy" and "Tom" scented items.

  2. Great tips Kirsten. Will make sure my pet sitter follows them next time we are away. And you are absolutely correct about the corn. Organic food works best for my pets.