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
I was looking at other ways to grow my side hustle, Crystal’s Cozy Care Pet Sitting, and came across Care.com. I decided to try the free version, spent a few hours over a few days to create a solid profile, and splurged $10 on a background check. Now I am slightly worried. Here is what I’ve heard so far…
Care.com Feedback from Others
- One of my current pet sitting gigs is with a lady that tried to find help through Care.com, but she found out AFTER submitting her needs that if you don’t join all the way for $40 a month, you can’t reply to anybody’s applications or see their contact details. She only needed one visit on one day (a $25 job), so paying $40 upfront just wouldn’t make sense for her. That means that everyone I’ve answered on their site so far couldn’t even get back to me if they wanted to if they aren’t fully subscribed – even if I was! So I am really happy that I didn’t pay $40 a month myself. None of this would annoy me if Care.com would have explained that before I spent about 8 hours trying to create a great profile page. I had to go to one small part of their FAQ’s after the fact to find that fun fact. I’m glad this lady found me on Craigslist instead.
- The comments on this review scared the poop out of me. They span from 2008-April 2014 so far and they all seem to be awful! The ones that worry me the most are the ones that say that they keep getting charged after cancelling. I didn’t pay for their service yet, but they do have my info for the background check.
My Own Experience Over the Last Week
- Parts of my profile, like my picture and references were rejected the first time I tried adding them. But the reasons they stated didn’t make any sense. For example, I was trying to use the picture that is in my right sidebar right now (just me sitting down) and they said it “may not look like you or isn’t a view of just your face”. Or my references “need a full name and phone number” when they had both. So I just deleted what I had and resubmitted the exact same stuff again…then it wasn’t rejected. Weird and a waste of time.
- I keep changing my profile to read that I am a foster parent with SMART Animal Rescue. Yet, it keeps getting changed back to “foster for an animal rescue” without any explanation on their part. Yet they let the sentence about my past volunteer work at the Houston SPCA and Pughearts stay just the way it is…
- No one has replied to any of my dozen applications so far. And now I know it’s because they would have to pay $40 a month or $140 a year to get any of my contact info at all. I’d highly suggest using a search engine to find more info based on what you can see in this situation…
I will be monitoring my credit card for any odd charges. I probably won’t bother to delete my Care.com profile at this point, but I will never upgrade and will remove myself from their emailing list for all the stuff they keep sending me 2-3 times a day.
Even without Care.com, I’ve been busy. I’ve made $1570 so far with 9 different sets of pets (8 of which I’d want to pet sit for again, lol). I have spent $360 total on pet sitting insurance ($305), business cards ($20), car magnets ($25), and a background check ($10). I also have $600 of jobs lined up already for May and June. I actually think I may stop trying so hard to promote Crystal’s Cozy Care and just see what Craigslist continues to do for me. You can check out my tips to starting a service business if you’d like to see how I started this one.
Have you ever heard about or used Care.com? Do you agree that it’s not worth it?
Daisy has settled in super well with her new family, so Mr. BFS and I have been matched with a foster again. Everyone, meet Dale! He’s 12-18 months old, 50-ish pounds, sweet to everyone, and hasn’t eaten Mr. Pug despite Mr. Pug’s best efforts.
He’s all smiles when he isn’t sleeping, LOL.
This is Dale in his normal state…
SMART Animal Rescue has many friends. One of them is a fellow rescuer named Leo. Leo and his wife added a/c and heat to their huge barn and currently have 42 rescue animals of their own. Dale was dropped over Leo’s fence about 5 months ago. Dale then jumped that 5 foot fence to chase down the car of his cruddy previous owner. Leo’s neighbor stopped Dale from running into traffic and took him back to Leo since he saw him jump that fence…so he joined the rescue family. I appreciate them letting me take it from here.
Dale’s worst habit so far is random puppy teething like Daisy, but he’s taken to toys much faster. He also is learning not to give hugs. He’s a quick learner, which has been fun. Best parts so far – he’s quiet, hasn’t had any potty issues, and is super soft.
Any new animals in your life lately?
After talking it over with Mr. BFS and weighing the pros and cons, we decided to let go of Daisy. A super nice family adopted her last Saturday. :-D We’re happy for the family and Daisy, and we will remember the nice month that we had with her. Now we’re looking forward to the next foster that we’ll probably get this week.
Daisy’s Forever Family
The couple is sweet, seems to be in the 45-50 year old range, and has a 17 year old kid and a 10 year old Beagle mix. I feel great about the match since it is obvious that they’ll take great care of her and were ready for her little puppy issues. While the husband finished the adoption paperwork, the wife took care of buying Daisy a good kennel, the same food that she was eating with us, a travel dog bowl, and a couple of toys (they agreed with me on loading up somewhere cheaper).
Daisy and their Beagle mix had met at a dog park at noon. When it was obvious that those two could get along, and that Daisy was sweet to all of the other dogs and people at the park, they decided to adopt. This was after I let them know about every issue I could think of – all of her positives and negatives. They had a wedding to attend at 5pm, yet they followed me to the Petsmart that the rescue works out of at 1:30pm. They even texted me a couple of updates later to let me know that Daisy settled in well and even got to sleep on their bed. Thank you, awesome couple!
They know that they can bring her back to SMART if they ever need to give her up and they have all of my personal contact info too.
Our New Foster
That’s one successful adoption down and countless to go. Katie, SMART’s adoption and foster placement specialist, is now choosing our next foster. We’ll either be getting a 1 year old sweety named Dale or a playful, trained 1.5 year old cutey named Lucy. I’ll update you when he/she is placed at our house. Mr. BFS and I are excited to meet either one of them and get to know another puppy.
Fostering rocks! I’d highly suggest it to anyone who likes animals and can stand the idea of them coming and going frequently. :-)
I mentioned yesterday that I would be investing in pet sitting insurance soon to protect me from general crud that could happen with my new side hustle – Crystal’s Cozy Care Pet Sitting. Making extra money wouldn’t mean much if I ever get sued and lose based on something my pet sitting fur-clients did while under my care.
Insured and Ready to Go!
I ended up choosing a policy through Pet Sitters Associates, LLC. Here’s a quick breakdown of the coverage:
- $1,000,000 per occurrence, up to $2,000,000 annually for bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, advertising injury, products, and completed operations
- $100,000 annually for fire damage
- $15,000 per occurrence, up to $30,000 annually for pets lost, stolen, injured, or killed in your care
- $1,000 per occurrence, up to $5,000 annually for vet expenses regardless of negligence
- $2,000 annually for lost keys and re-keying of customers homes
- $5,000 annually for medical expenses
- $10,000 per occurrence, up to $25,000 annually, for the theft, breakage, and mysterious disappearance of the personal property of the pet owner while under the care of you, your employees, your independent contractors, or your incidental helpers.
No deductible for claims, EXCEPT $500 per incident if you purposely took an unleashed animal to a dog park or outdoors unless it’s in the pet owner’s or pet sitter’s yard with an above ground fence that will keep pets inside and people/animals outside.
Does the pet insurance cover your liability if the dog bites someone or runs in the street and causes a car accident or does it cover death and illness of a pet? If the pet has to go to the vet, you might have to pay if the owner refuses to reimburse you. If the pet dies the owner may want compensation from you.
In short – yes, all of that is covered. :-)
Here was the breakdown of the costs for coverage from April 3, 2014 for one year:
- Basic Insurance – $185
- Special Property Coverage (that $10,000 property coverage was extra but I’m clutzy sometimes) – $100
- Processing Fee – $10
- Listing Fee to be in their search database of pet sitters – $10
- Total = $305
Totally worth the peace of mind for me and my clients! And it looks good to be able to show and state that I’m insured. :-)
It’s 2:30am on April 3rd, 2014 and this will be posting in 2.5 hours…THEN:
- 6am – waking up to take care of two cats
- 10am – walking and feeding two dogs
- 11am – drive to my grandparent’s for lunch with my cousins
- 2pm - the two cats are being picked up thanks to my awesome roommates
- 9pm – meeting with a client to schedule her Easter weekend pet sitting
- 10pm – walk the same two dogs again as I did at 10am
I should be asleep, but I just got in bed 20 minutes ago since I had to walk some dogs at 11pm, take a shower, then answer some urgent emails for my online business, update my records for pet sitting for 2014′s taxes, and finally, I wanted to write this post while I was still buzzing with adrenaline.
Today’s schedule is one of the busiest of the last month or so, but every day has had something. I’ve been physically exhausted, but mentally, I’m pumped! I forgot how much I love making new business ideas work! I’m getting more done online even though I have way less time than for the last year or so. I’m like that - I’m at my best when I am extremely busy. Woot!!!
Proof that Hobby Jobs Can Make Money
For the disbelievers out there, side hustles can make you good money fast (check out my top 10 tips here). I started Crystal’s Cozy Care Pet Sitting by posting on Craigslist and getting my first job on February 27. I made $1125 by March 27. Now, a week later, the total is around $1320!
So far, it has cost:
- $60 in gas so far thanks to making 30mpg and having close gigs
- $44 in advertising ($20 for business cards and $24 for car magnet signs) – Thanks to my friend, J, for the free, super awesome design below!!!
- $8 in extras like a poop bag dispenser with bags and a small bag of treats
That brings the NET TOTAL to $1208 in about 5 weeks!!! And I have $120 lined up for the next week.
Right now, I am using a pet sitting release-of-liability contract to cover my butt (along with a healthy dose of common sense), but my pet sitting insurance is going to take a $300 bite out of my earnings next week. It’ll be worth it to be able to advertise that I’m bonded and insured.
Taxes will also take their bite in April 2015, which is why I am on the ball with recording my mileage, costs, income, etc. BUT, I’m just really happy that my chosen side hustle is taking off, forces me to exercise, and is helping animals have a less stressful time when their owners are away. In-their-home pet sitting seems better for everyone involved.
As you may have noticed with my online business, I have turned a side hustle into real money before. I just wasn’t 100% sure that it wasn’t a one-time thing. I’m unexplainably exuberant about my successful entrepreneurial spirit…I feel like it’s a family heirloom that has been passed down the generations and I’m just happy it’s in me too. :-) My great-grandparents – the bakers, the butchers, and the pelt sellers before them – would all be proud…well, at least that is what I’m feeling right now.
Please share all of your side hustle stories below! Anybody else find a fun way of making $1000+ a month on the side? Please share!