I mention my pet sitting side hustle frequently, but haven’t written a thorough update post lately about Crystal’s Cozy Care. I saw this question left in my newsletter post this month from Leilani (thank you for subscribing and commenting!) and thought it would make a good lead in, LOL:
I also have a pet care hobby business and so far have to limit the jobs I accept because of my day job. I’m hoping to grow this hustle. Right now, I only accept cash and checks, but would eventually like to accept credit cards. So, my question: What type of payments do you accept for your pet sitting gigs?
I started at the very end of February 2013 by accepting just cash and checks. But then I was asked about other methods in April 2014 so I started accepting Paypal. Finally, about 3 months after I started, I came across a photographer client who highly suggest the Square payment system. It’s fees are less than Paypal, so I use that now exclusively for credit card payments (although only one client uses it regularly). I still have two ongoing clients that prefer Paypal. The vast majority, more than 95%, still leave me cash and checks.
I still advertise my services mainly through Craigslist, word of mouth, and Nextdoor.com. Craigslist has led to the most jobs. I also apply to gigs on Care.com and Sittercity.com, but that has only amounted to a few positions.
In super happy news, most of my monthly income now comes from repeat customers. A couple of neighbors and families near me use me for every weekend trip or major vacation that they take. Two mommies have such odd work hours that I pet sit for their pups for at least a few days if not more of every month since they met me.
One proud papa of a 10 1/2 lavender reticulated python has hired me for one visit a week pretty consistently since the end of May 2014. Her name is Sephoria and here she is under a black light:
Sephoria is gorgeous and has grown to be nearly 11 feet long in less than 18 months.
The drama behind Sephoria is that for about 3 weeks, I was replaced with a “snake specialist” only because her owner wasn’t comfortable with her size and me mixing when she was hungry (every 4-8 weeks depending). Well, that specialist ended up being truly dumb and unethical…he stole Sephoria. Within 5 days, her owner had posted a want ad for Sephoria on Craigslist that explained the whole situation and asked for help. The stupid guy’s cousin saw the post, the guy freaked out, and he returned her. Yay!
Needless to say, I have my job back since I can be completely trusted not to steal her. Her owner has now requested to be allowed to go home from his trucking job at least once every 2-3 weeks so I won’t even need to feed her myself (her giant frozen rabbits take more than a day to thaw properly and the feeding process is too complex for my schedule).
For my non-snake loving readers, here are some of the cute mammals (mostly dogs and cats) that have become regulars:
Unless I start taking on more employees, other than my close friend and roommate, Mandy, then I think I am pretty much around the most business that I can take on right now. School is back in session, so there will be a slow down. I’m totally okay with that since I was working 30 hours a week just for pet sitting in August 2014. Here have been my total income numbers so far (not taking into account my driving deductions and stuff like that):
- March 2014 – $1100
- April 2014 – $400
- May 2014 – $580
- June 2014 – $1640
- July 2014 – $785
- August 2014 – $1680
I have put more than 5000 miles on my new car. I am slowly making sure to stay within a 15 mile radius from my house so that those driving numbers should decrease each month from now on while my income stays above $500. The more popular I become, the pickier I can choose to be on the locations of the jobs that I accept.
Along those lines, I have increased my pricing as I’ve developed my reputation as well. I used to be $15 a visit or $50 for overnight care. Now I’m $20-$30 per visit depending on location and $70-$90 for overnight care. Yet, my business is growing. I also still charge a little less for my returning clients since I grandfather in their rates unless I was being simply unrealistic (like $60 a night for more than 5 pets that are all high maintenance or $50 a night for locations about an hour away…I’ve changed those and informed those families of my actual rates with a slight discount just for them).
Overall, I’m enjoying myself and am honestly trying to keep myself to 30 hours or less per week of total time towards pet sitting. That only became difficult during the craziest parts of the summer so far. I expect the holidays will be packed too.
Did I miss anything that you wanted to know about? Please let me know!
In my world, I’ve been dog walking a set of awesome pups in the 95 degree weather. I’m also currently doing my first pet sitting job only for guinea pigs. And we are pet sitting a few dogs for friends this week…not doing well there…
The two Dachshunds that we are watching for a friend right this second until Sunday night are driving me crazy though. I’m so sad and a little angry. I don’t want to be angry at a good friend, but these dogs are…well, crappy. The little lady keeps trying to chew up anything she can find. The little dude had back surgery a little while ago that was basically successful, but now he apparently can’t feel it when he is pooping. So he just walks around my house pooping and then trying to EAT it before I can get to it! EWWWW!!! They also start howling if they feel like they are missing anything while kenneled, but someone is always awake in our house, so now I can’t ever sleep well. This is just sucking.
Mr. BFS is doing his best to keep me from blowing up. He is trying to take care of them for me, but he and I aren’t home at the same times most of the day. And technically I was the one who agreed to this favor, so I feel like this whole debacle could have been avoided if I just said that we were booked. That isn’t a very friendly thought, but I didn’t know what I was signing up for at all.
I don’t think my Dachshund friend ever reads my blog, but if he does, I am sorry but I hate your dogs. They have sweet personalities in spurts but that doesn’t cover for everything else. This may be sleeplessness talking a bit as well.
We’ll be taking on one more dog, a border collie mix, from another friend at about 10am for a little more than a week. But she’s stayed with us before and is awesome. I hope she hasn’t changed from last year or that the little Dachshunds don’t rub off on her. I also am glad that they only overlap for 4 days…
Have you ever volunteered to help someone out and totally regretted it after the fact? Share, please! I rather not feel like the only whiny one today, LOL.
I’m dog sitting two Dachshunds right now for a friend of ours. These dogs are LOUD! Tiny bodies but huge barks and they bark or howl frequently when they are in their kennel and think they are missing something. I secluded them into an upstairs guest bedroom right now.
But it did get me to thinking – how do you concentrate in a situation like this? I can’t concentrate at all when I am being stressed out. How do you accomplish anything with kids gabbing or dogs barking? I froze up completely before I moved the pups upstairs. Now I am wondering how parents can finish anything…
The video sort of covers it all…
Missy, the younger of the two, totally has Riley’s number. Riley’s a 9 year old Yorkshire Terrier that is definitely Missy’s beyatch. Although he seems to think he definitely has dominance over MY fleece throw.
When I first saw this, I couldn’t stop laughing. Then it went on and on for nearly an hour. They go to bed happy at least…
Mr. BFS and I are pet sitting two foster dogs for SMART Rescue while their normal foster family is on vacation. Riley and Missy are both adorable and settled in well very quickly, but then I realized that Missy had fleas! Ack! I hate parasites.
Missy just had her flea prevention and heartworm prevention medicines, but I don’t mess around with fleas. So I searched online and found a cheap and easy method for killing fleas on an animal pretty easily. Dishwashing soap or shampoo plus a little water, then a full bath. Specifically:
1. I used a plastic cup to do a half and half combo of dishwashing soap (off brand Dawn) and water.
2. I started on Missy’s head and spread the heavy soap solution all over her, making sure not to miss her legs, the tail, and all of the hard to get spots underneath.
3. I left that to soak and break down the fleas’ natural barriers so they could drown.
4. While we waited 5 minutes, I picked off fleas that were trying to abandon ship and watched them go down the drain.
5. We then started the rinsing off process that took a while since my tub doesn’t have a sprayer and the faucet doesn’t stick out enough to fit a dog under it, so I just used a plastic cup.
6. About halfway through the rinsing, I went through every square inch of this 2o pound dog to pick off any hearty fleas that weren’t going easily like the others.
7. Once she was all rinsed off, we did the whole process over again. I was in the bath tub with her for 45 minutes.
8. We’re getting flea meds from the rescue tomorrow to help tackle any possible survivors.
I couldn’t find anymore fleas or eggs on her so far, all for less than 50 cents of dishwashing soap. She napped afterwards since she did put up with me with no problems for nearly an hour…
Missy is a Pug-Chihuahua mix that was supposedly going to be neurotic for the first couple of days, but she fit in immediately. She also is the softest dog that I’ve ever pet.
Still Feeling Itchy
The fleas got into my brain, so I’ve already washed her blanket, my clothes from yesterday, and the towels we used for the bath. I also already thoroughly checked Riley and he is flea-free. Tomorrow morning our sheets will be washed. She hasn’t been allowed on any carpets yet. I really hate fleas, ticks, and mosquitos.
What parasite murdering tips do you have? Any super affordable recipes that may help others?
Pet sitting had been lots of mammals up to last weekend, but now I’ve entered into the reptile realm! Honestly, it’s freaking cool!!! Welcome to the world of snakes…
Pet Sitting Snakes
Dogs are cute, furry, and fun to play with. They also have accidents once in a while, need lots of socialization, and are the primary reason people call pet sitters like me. So most pet sitters are dog sitters that then decide what other animals that they will watch. And even the dog sitters sometimes avoid certain breeds like Pit Bulls. I didn’t limit my options.
This past weekend, I pet sat for an awesome family with 1 dog, 2 guinea pigs, 3 cats, a fish, and a ball python (Silas). The dog was ADORABLE, the guinea pigs chatted away to each other, the cats like rough head pets, the fish was a fish, and Silas the snake never even moved out of his house. But I had met him up close and personal at the pre-meet.
The Big One
Then I received a call from a very distraught trucker. If he couldn’t find someone willing to take care of his lavender reticulated python, Sephoria, he’d have to get rid of her…and she has meaning way beyond a normal pet. He and his dad literally hatched her from an egg about a year ago, and his dad passed away since then.
Okay, so the picture doesn’t do her justice. She’s 10 FEET LONG! I had to at least meet her, right? I really, really wanted to help this guy keep his snake.
I met her yesterday, and it was easy. She’s a tame snake. I just picked her up (well, some of her at a time), let her slither around her room, and then put her up. Later on, she was fed her frozen rabbit for the month, but I couldn’t stay long enough to see her actually eat it since that seems to take hours. No, I will not have to feed her unless there’s an emergency.
I was just hired to visit her weekly while her human is on the road. I’ll be picking her up and making sure her water is clean. I’ll also be throwing crickets into a small aquarium for a tarantula. And here is where some of you will laugh at me – I am doing this about 15 minutes away from me for $25 a visit. I figure the entire trip will take less than 1 hour and I am helping a very sweet man keep his sweet snake.
I do understand that a snake that can grow 10 feet in its first year can be dangerous. I won’t let her wrap completely around me anywhere. I won’t be feeding her, so I won’t be risking food aggression. I learned today that if she ever decides to latch on to me, putting hand disinfectant on my hands and touching her face would make her detach. So there will be disinfectant near me all the time. And when she puts on another few feet, my hubby will be going along with me. He’s always liked snakes anyway.
So, if you are still reading, is it because you like snakes too? Think I’m a little crazy? Comment away!!! Oh, and if you want to see a picture of her eating, just let me know.
I’m not myself right now. We had to say goodbye to Mr. Pug yesterday and I feel blind-sided. I mean, he was only perfectly healthy for two years while we had him (2009-2011) and then he developed allergies to everything – meat, dairy, soy, wheat, corn, and pollen. But he had been stable since early 2012. Well, stable-ish.
Goodbye Mr. Pug
February 2003 – May 2014
About 6 weeks ago, Mr. Pug’s normal Pug-cough got worse. I took him to the vet, they didn’t hear any fluid in his lungs, and they sent me home with antibiotics (Primor) and doggy Mucinex. It cleared him right up. Then it started up last week. I called Friday and asked for med refills, but they said they rather do chest xrays. So I put him back on doggy Mucinex for the weekend and he was doing better…until yesterday morning – the cough was worse than ever. So I called the vet again and went in at 3pm. A different vet hypothesized that he may have Cushings disease, took xrays, told me he had a collapsed lung, and referred me to an emergency clinic. The emergency clinic took his records, said the xrays stunk and took more, and came back with similarly bad news.
My Pug either had a twisted lung or severe pneumonia, and either of those were probably caused by a bigger issue like Cushings or diabetes. The emergency vet said that it would take either major surgery or 6-8 weeks of major antibiotics and then an ongoing regimen for whatever was the root cause. I asked if he realistically had a good quality of life left for his future. She said that realistically, we had gone really far with Mr. Pug and it was a good time to stop.
I agreed, I cried, and I gave him his favorite head massage while he passed on. I miss him but it was time.
Trying to Remember the Good Stuff
It’s not all sad. I keep smiling about his absolute crazy-love for ice cubes and carrot sticks. I can almost feel him sitting next to me when I’m watching tv. And I sort of miss the sound of his snoring in the kennel outside of our bedroom door. We had more than 5 years together and he was a great friend.
He jumped into my lap and went to sleep 5 minutes after I met him in February 2009 while we were fostering for Pughearts. A few days after we adopted him later that month, he was sniffing around Mr. BFS’ feet while my husband was on the potty, then he lifted his leg and peed right on my husband’s foot. LOL. It never happened again, he just felt the need to mark him that one time. He also was adorable when he nursed on the edges of his pillows. Overall, he was just a great dog.
My only regret is that I didn’t understand that we were nearing the end, so there wasn’t any real time to get used to the idea. With Miss Doxie, I had a whole day to hang out with her before we said goodbye. With Mr. Pug, it was just rush, rush, and then a few minutes before I held his head and said goodbye. I could have taken the evening and returned, but he was having a hard time breathing…it didn’t seem right.
Remember to spend quality time with the people and animals that you love since you don’t really know when it will be their time.
My Mr. Awesome