9 things I learnt in my first year as a pet sitter

At this time of year we all like to reflect on the good, the bad, and the ugly of the year just gone.

2022 was the year that I finally made the decision to launch The Pet Sitter Solihull.

I caught Covid in January and whilst off work (I was carer to the elderly) I gave myself a pep talk and an ultimatum. If I didn’t launch The Pet Sitter Solihull now, I never would.

Fast forward 12 months and the ultimatum worked. The business was launched and by August I’d managed to go full time in the business.

So what have I found out during those past 12 months?

1. surrounding yourself with other women in business is inspiring

I have made so many new friends because we all share the same common thing, we are all female entrepreneurs (although I’m not a huge fan of the term). We are all building our businesses and supporting each other. Within the local area there are lots of networking opportunities for women. There are many different types of businesses being built and I feel like I have just scratched the surface.

There are also many different types of pet businesses. We have trainers, groomers, vets. photographers, man trailers, scent workers, cat feeders and walkers. This time last year I knew none of these people, what a difference a year makes!

2. i’m not very good at maintaining a work life balance

When you’re starting a business there is so much energy and excitement and that kept me going for months…until I suddenly realised that I’d not had a day off in weeks.

Paul and I recently made the difficult decision to say goodbye to one of our regular doggy’s that we were walking on a Saturday and Sunday.

It was a tough decision to make, but it does mean that I can now attempt to schedule some family weekends in the diary.

3. it feels good

I don’t want to jump on the mental health train here, but I really can’t remember when I last had that feeling of not wanting to get out of bed and go to work.

Experts say that in order to maintain good mental health you need to:

  • Exercise regularly – YES
  • Enjoy the present – YES
  • Develop relationships – YES
  • Have fun – YES, YES, YES

I am outside everyday, whatever the weather and according to my Fit Bit I walk a fair few miles. I very rarely do a pavement dog walk, instead I head to local areas and get to see wildlife and nature, and if its raining, I get to experience the elements of the great British weather.

I have wonderful relationships with all the pets in my care and their hoomans.

Who wouldn’t have fun playing hide and seek with a group of dogs or playing tug with a strong Spaniel?

4. I have to plan my day around a toilet!

Unfortunately as I’m not a dog I can’t just find a bush, a bin or a lamp post and relieve myself.

5. building a business is a rollercoaster

One minute I’m at the top and the next minute I’m right at the bottom…AND this happens on a daily basis. If I have a great adventure with a dog, or a great customer meeting then I’m right at the top of the rollercoaster. But pop a big poo bag of self doubt on my shoulders and that’s where the rollercoaster goes downhill.

I think I’ve only told Paul once that I wanted to give it all up. He quickly reminded me that I still have to pay the van off so that idea (thankfully) was very quickly scrapped.

6. dare to be different

Right from the start I knew that I wasn’t a 30 minute walk round the block kind of girl. I needed to head off in the van and explore every nook and every cranny of the great outdoors. I started my love for the great outdoors many years ago.

Back in 2015 Paul and I took the children to The Peak District for a walk up to Mam Tor. The walk did not go to plan and we ended up getting incredibly lost. We squeezed our way through barbed wire, trespassed over farm land, scrambled up steep embankments and found ourselves in a disused quarry.

This lead to me finally learning how to read a map and a walking journey that took me all over Great Britain.

A walk round the block will never be entertaining for me, and if I find it boring I’m sure that there are many dogs that find it boring too.

This is why I do adventures not walks.

7. Who knew that i’d love being a white van driver

If I’m not out in fields walking dogs, you’ll find me in my van. The van has been converted so that I can carry up to 5 dogs safely, securely and comfortably. The cages are even painted in my brand colours.

8. my camera roll

My camera roll has more photographs of other people’s pets than photographs of my own pets and children.

The cameras on our phones are amazing and not a day goes by without me taking a picture of someone else’s pet. I have to scroll through a lot of pictures if I want to find any photos of my own family.

9. I love dogs, but i wouldn’t have one

Before you gasp in horror there are a few reasons why I wouldn’t have a dog right now (notice the now part of that sentence).

Firstly we have 3 cats, and although they will tolerate a dog every now and then, I can’t see them sharing their home with one.

Secondly, I spend all day with dogs so I do get my doggy fix.

And finally, dogs need lots of mental and physical exercise and I see the guilt that owners get when they’re out at work all day. They worry about their dog when they should be concentrating on their work.

I would feel this too, I would also feel like a traitor as I would be spending time entertaining and enriching the day of other ‘home alone’ dogs rather than my own.

I’m not saying that I’ll never have a dog, just that right now is not the best time for me.