I thought I was done with pet sitting when I moved to Austin six years ago. I put the side-hustle to bed for a fancy job at Mood Media but through a series of events including the death of my dog in 2015, I found myself drawn into a thriving pet sitting business yet again. The main reason I fell back into it is because animals bring me immense joy and frankly, this business makes me feel "useful" in a more meaningful way than a corporate job ever did.
That said, my personal relationships have suffered. For years I have been gone on overnight stays for 50-75% of the year for $60 a night – a rate and profession some scoff at. Somehow, I gather that others would find it more acceptable if I were earning $300 per night instead. But I'll leave that rant for another day.
Since I published my pet sitting memoir in 2017, more doors have opened up for me writing-wise. I have been able to freelance and make a lean living. But after the deterioration of my 4+ year relationship late last year, the pull for me to stop pet sitting and to get a dog or cat of my own has been stronger than ever. I miss having a constant reliable companion in my life, especially an emotional support animal. Ha. We all joke about needing or having an official service animal but the truth is, at least emotionally, they ALL are service animals. I'm not wrong.
But with animal ownership comes healthcare costs, pet sitting costs, and other expenses... I have started a fund for my future pet(s), so I don't have the agony of expense-shock if something costly should arise like a Vet bill or a long vacation where pet care is needed. So that is another reason I am pursuing other more lucrative endeavors – I want to have the (money) means to care for my health and my pets care without a second thought. Dog needs a $4k surgery? No problem. I want to go away for 3 weeks so I need a pet sitter for two pets that costs $700? No problem.
I also want to buy a house in this century. Have you seen Austin home-prices? Housing costs in Austin are far higher than the national average. There’s a reason why, when I went to donate plasma for the first time on a recent Wednesday, the parking lot at BioLife looked like a Target parking lot on a Saturday in December. I turned around and left, opting for a better strategy. Maybe 6am next time?
So to make room for more abundance for the things mentioned above, I have been tapering my pet sitting business. I still pet sit but only for select clients, friends and select referrals. I am practicing saying "no". Does this mean I only pet sit for my fancy clients? Heck no! I often prefer smaller places. Plus, location matters. Quiet matters. Pets matter (no assholes!). Amenities matter (comfy bed, privacy, strong shower, good WIFI, gifts, ice cream, sweets, etc. hee-hee).
And no, my business didn't flail after I published my tell-all novel in 2017. It certainly didn't explode, but it stayed strong and steady. I will continue to ride that wave while I get my first big fiction novel published. I am in the very early stages now and it will take me far longer than it took me to write my first novel. This time it'll be fiction and under a pen name - so whether people love it or hate it I can be totally anonymous.
So yes, I am still pet sitting but not for the masses. My focus now is earning more elsewhere and saving more so I can have the life that calls to me, while I am still young enough to fully enjoy it.