What is Working with Pets?
Working with Pets is written for small pet business owners and people considering a career working with pets. I offer tips to grow your business faster, make more money, with less frustration, and more fun!
On this site you will find :
1) Resources and tips for starting and growing a pet care business.
2) Articles on pet care business marketing, customer relations, process and employee managment, and taxes.
3) Unusual pet careers and businesses – ideas for services or products you can add to your business to increase revenue.
4) Pet care and first aid tips
5) Reviews of the latest pet products
6) Interviews with successful pet professionals
Who is Danielle Chonody?
Hi and welcome to my blog dedicated to the profession of working with pets. I have always been a pet lover and made the decision to I start my own in-home pet sitting service Claws Paws & Jaws Pet Sitters in the Mid-Cities of Dallas Fort Worth in 2003.
When I started my business I was looking for a way to work with pets and be my own boss. I had no idea of the other benefits of being a part of a small pet care business. From my business I have made many friends, had opportunities for siginficant personal growth, had many chances to use my creativity, and have had the pleasure of providing pet owners with a valuable and appreciated service.
The pet care industry is growing rapidly driven by trend of owners to treat their pets as members of the family. This growth brings a wealth of opportunities for pet lovers to turn their passion for pets into a rewarding pet care career or business. There are many varied pet career options available today. A pet care career can be started as a full time venture or can often offer the flexibily to be fit around another career or business.
On this site I want to provide pet lovers with pet news and information about pet care career options. I also want to provide resources and tips to pet care business owners and pet professionals that help them grow and strengthen their business through knowledge and excellent customer service.
Please post your comments to the articles on my blog so that we can have an interactive community.
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My History in the Pet Businesss (More About Danielle)
I was born in Adelaide, Australia which is a large city with a population of just under one million on the south eastern Australian coast. Compared to Melbourne or Sydney, the more well known cities of Australia, Adelaide is considered pretty small and I always thought of it that way.
My parents emigrated to Adelaide from London in their early twenties to start a new life – my dad had secured a job as a civil engineer with the highways department. I came a long a few years later.
Growing up I was an only child, I loved to read and sew, and I always wanted a cat. Unfortunately my parents were not so eager to have a cat in the family so as a child I had both a mouse and rabbits as pets. They were a poor replacements – but I loved them just the same.
Finally when I was 9 my parents decided I was ready for a cat. To my great disappointment the first several pet stores that we called told us that it wasn’t kitten season. We finally found a shop that had several kittens and when we visited my new cat Oscar jumped right out of the cage and into my arm, I knew he was the one I had to have.
Not long after we brought Oscar home, a stray that the neighbors had taken in decided that he would rather come live with us. He was a fluffy black and white cat that they had already named Guido. From there we just couldn’t stop at two and we adopted an orange tabby from the shelter called Marmalade and then finally bought a grey Persian from a breeder and named his Boswell. Some might say we developed cat co-dependence – but I thought it was great to have so many pets! I’ve never had so many since – but maybe one day…
I lived with my parents and our cats through high school and college. In high school I found I enjoyed math and science but wasn’t too sure how I wanted to apply these to a career. I considered a science degree but decided that was too vague and ended up studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Adelaide. It wasn’t a good job market for engineers when I graduated in 1996 but I did finally secure a job with an oilfield company in Melbourne.
Moving to Melbourne meant leaving my family and my cats. I missed them all terribly but enjoyed the big city activities of Melbourne and made some friends though work. Renting in Australia is a bit different to what I’ve found in the US – more landlords will not allow any pets so for almost 3 years I had to rely on visits back to Adelaide to see the furry family. It was probably just as well as I did travel and spend several months working on an offshore oil rig – I wouldn’t have provided a very stable home!
Finally in 1999 I moved to a unit and was able to get another cat. I found my Burmese cat Bouie and brought him home to be adored. When I transferred to the US in 2000 there was nothing to be done except to bring Bouie with me to Dallas Ft Worth. He travelled with a pet care company “Jet Pets” who boarded him for 2 weeks after my departure and then sent him on to me – clearing him through customs and the medical exams. They did a great job, he arrived safe and sound and immediately ready to sniff out his new environs.
I met my husband Todd in the first year in my new home and we married in 2002. By then I had another Burmese cat that I bought from a breeder in Dallas in 2001. Her name is Cozzy. Of course Todd is a pet lover too and one of the first items on our agenda after our honeymoon was to find a family dog. We brought Mackie the black Lab into our home – I’d love to report that he fit right in with the cats but we had a 2 year getting to know you period. Mackie was good with the cats but she did like to chase them when they ran from her. It took them a couple of years for the cats to work out that if they stood still she wouldn’t hurt them!
In 2003 I was feeling tired of the 9-5 grind and started searching for a business I could run from home part time that could one day replace my salary. At the bookstore I found a book by Patti Moran – Pet Sitting for Profit: A Complete Manual for Professional Success (Howell Reference Books). It didn’t take me long to decide that working with pets sounded like the perfect job!
I researched pet sitting and joined Pet Sitters International – a professional association for pet sitters that offerred me education, insurance at a reduced rate and a listing for my new business in their pet sitter locator. I then set to work creating tri-fold flyers that I left at the counter of local pet businesses to advertise my service.
It took a few weeks for me to get my first customer but when I did I was hooked. I loved spending time with the pets and also had fun meeting new clients and hearing their pet stories. Slowly I got other customers from my flyers and the PSI online locator.
The next steps I took were to advertise in the local Yellow Pages and hire a service to set up a website for my business. As the business slowly grew I developed systems for managing client keys, created a pet sitting contract, and started to reach out to network with other pet sitters.
I attended a networking lunch with 5-6 local sitters and was very fortunate that one of these women knew a pet sitter in my city that needed help of the Christmas holiday season. Working with another sitter gave me more confidence, helped me learn new techniques and tips, and gave me inspiration. I have been friends with this sitter for the past 3 years and we still support each other when we need additional help.
In my second year of business my husband and I travelled to San Antonio to attend PSI’s annual conference. This was a great experience as we met many other sitters with whom we shared marketing, pet care, and business management tips. We also attended a pet first aid and dog behavior workshop. Attending the conference increased my awareness of the growth of the pet sitting industry and the opportunities that existed to grow my business.