A lot of folks have found themselves drawn to the pet sitting industry, and if you've landed here, you're probably one of them. If so, welcome!
Whether you've been lurking around and trying to figure out where to begin, have already gotten your toes wet or have taken the plunge and/or are just feeling overwhelmed, I understand. You want to do it, and the right way. Maybe you're an established sitter whose business is struggling, or you really want to take your successful business into a different direction and you're unsure of how to make the changes that are right for you. Perhaps you really need to feel inspired.
You need the right direction, support, education, resources + mentorship and coaching. In the coming weeks, I'll be adding access to all of that and more so check back soon.
Setting the pace:
One thing I'll say is that there are a lot of ways to craft a pet sitting business. No matter the way it's done, it's not for the faint of heart. The hours are long and unconventional, a lot of time is spent in the car, working in the elements year round is the norm and you have to be super-dedicated. You have to LOVE IT. You have to want to deal with humans, not just be a pet lover. And, you have to know WHO YOU ARE and be comfortable with that, even if you're someone who doesn't 'follow the herd'. We need you.
Maybe you want to take your business in a different direction and you don't have others around you who see your vision or support its validity. That's okay. You can still go for it. We need you.
Brene Brown: Braving The Wilderness
Seth Godin: Tribes
Accountability to yourself, others and your values and leadership:
Dare to Lead Hub: A companion site to Brene Brown's book, Dare to Lead, which includes a downloadable workbook to get the most out of the book.
Compete to Create: free webinar to get acquainted with the program created by Dr. Michael Gervais and Coach Pete Carroll
Current issues: what's impacting the pet sitting industry today:
Grief, death, and loss are a big part of what families that hire the services of a pet sitter, a boarder, or a dog walker face, and they willingly bring us pet care professionals into the fold. I gravitated toward that without question, but it's not lost on me that for some, it can be a catalyst to exit the industry even before their feet get sure footing.
When I discovered that I wanted to focus on geriatrics, palliative care and hospice care and end-of-life, I understood that I needed to dive deep and bolster my skills. Working to develop my 'soft front, strong back' has helped. I decided to train as an end-of-life doula for humans and I earned a certification as a Pet Loss and Grief Companion, which has proven to be invaluable. My education hasn't stopped, and I glean it from the most unexpected places at times.
But you don't need professional training as a EOL doula or a pet loss and grief companion to handle things better as a member of the pet care industry, just thoughtfulness and good tools. If you are an experienced pet sitter or are just getting started and are feeling a little lost when it comes to handling the tough stuff like understanding issues surrounding pet loss; navigating conversations big and small around your families' terminally ill pets or those who are experiencing age-related decline, or when they die, here are some resources to tap into. And no, they are not 'pet loss' centered necessarily: beyond the unquestionable impact of disenfranchised grief when it comes to our relationships with companion animals, understanding and honoring the notion that love is love, loss is loss, relationships are relationships and grief is grief is at the core of how we navigate the tough stuff in the pet care industry. These are not easy 'how-to' manuals. These topics aren't built that way. You need to read and listen to and soak in these various forms of storytelling (a tool that is big part of adversity, grief, loss and death) to gain insight on how you can do better and care for your own emotional health when walking with families who are immersed in these life experiences surrounding their companion animals. We need you.
Kate Braestrup: Here If You Need Me -- Braestrup has a gift for articulating the intimate moments that she has been witness to in impossibly difficult situations as a chaplain for the Maine Warden Service. Just take my word for it. I read this right after earning my Pet Loss and Grief Companioning certificate and it really helped me connect the dots more.
Frank Ostaseski: The Five Invitations -- Ostaseski has been one of my most pivotal go-to's in my work in animal hospice, despite being a pioneer in the human hospice movement. So many stories, observations, intricacies. Grab a box of tissues. It's okay to sob.
Chip & Dan Heath: The Power of Moments -- This book really resonated with me because it has everything to do with experiences. And experiences are vital. In fact, my first and foremost job title is Chief Experience Officer, or CXO. I'm about creating experiences where humans and animals know that they are seen, heard, understood and acknowledged -- especially when the chips are down. This book explores what makes experiences memorable and meaningful: elevation, insight, pride, and connection.
Compassion Understood: This is a pet loss support training course designed for veterinary staff, though pet care professionals seeking to fearlessly bolster their understanding of the end-of-life process, bond-centered euthanasia, body care and supporting families after their pet's death will benefit from Component 3 as a stand alone of the three-part course.
The usual suspects: Industry and related organizations, training and certification
I'm going to begin by saying that I'm often approached by people wanting to know "how to become a pet sitter". There are lots of ways. None of them are easy and they all begin from building a solid foundation and putting in the work. That means investing time, effort and yes, money. If you're not willing to do that, please... move on. These are just a couple of pay-to-belong organizations. More links will be added soon. We need well-trained, ethical professionals who adhere to best practices.
Pet Sitters International: a leading industry organization that offers access to training, CPPS certification and business support + an annual conference.
Pet Professional Guild: focused on training and behavior professionals, this organization is also invaluable to pet care professionals. Solid knowledge in animal behavior is a must in this industry. Periodic training on these topics + others via on site classes or webinars (for an additional fee, which is worth it) are available.
International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants: same as above; can join as a supporting member for a fee.