summer! and, vacation notice…

hurricane season has officially begun and though we are not yet technically in summer – the solstice is on june 21st – summer weather has certainly arrived already! and now begins the long, sweaty, humid haul til october when the weather takes a turn for the better.

so, a few things:

hurricane season policy: if you are booking a sit with me between now and the end of hurricane season (november 30th), please be aware of my hurricane season policy that i cannot take responsibility for your animals should there be an evacuation called while you are away. please have a plan in place with friends, relatives or your vet. i will do what i can to assist in getting your animals to your evacuation caretaker, but i cannot be responsible for evacuating your pets.

for all dog-walking clients: please be advised that as the temperatures get hotter and the humidity increases, i will adjust the walk times for your pups based on their ability to tolerate the heat and your neighborhood environment (i.e., shaded areas, grass as opposed to hot pavement, etc.). if walks are shortened, though, i will spend the remaining time in your shaded yard or indoors playing with them. they will still get exercise and attention after they have had a chance to relieve themselves, but in a way that is safe and healthy for them. some dogs are more sensitive to the heat than others, so this may not affect all clients, but just know i am always going to do what i think is best for your dog to keep them safe and happy.

schedule: i am pretty solidly booked up on sits through the end of june (with the exception of father’s day weekend, where i still have a few openings), but i do still have availability for fourth of july weekend if you are in need. get to me quick, though, as i’m sure it will fill up.

and lastly, vacation: i will be taking my annual summer vacation for three weeks from saturday july 25th through sunday august 16th. i will resume work on monday august 17th. wags by mags will be closed for business during this time. if you were hoping to book with me in this timeframe, feel free to get in touch and i can give you some referrals to other sitters/walkers who can fill in for me while i’m gone. i appreciate my regulars’ flexibility with my need to take a break!

thanks everyone, and happy summer!

cash.me/$wagsbymags

just a quick announcement to say that wags by mags is now accepting squarecash.

i’ve been searching for a simple electronic way to replace the tedious process of clients paying me by check every week/gig, and i found it! now clients can pay quickly and easily via their smartphone, tablet or even computer by sending payment to: https://cash.me/$wagsbymags. and for me, as a business, the service fees are considerably less than paypal or even using a card reader like square. (only 1.5%)

i don’t get anything for signing anyone up – that’s not the motivation here. the motivation for me is that clients can relax about remembering to leave me checks and have a faster, simpler secure way to pay me. and i have a less annoying way to remind them to pay me and can save all those trips to the bank! also the deposits are virtually immediate. no more waiting til payments clear. so high tech!

feels like a win-win situation. so cash.me/$wagsbymags!

mardi gras hours…

first off, big thanks to my new clients for filling all my midday openings so quickly! it’s nice to feel so loved and wanted! my daily walking schedule is now pretty full again, but if you are not an existing client and are looking for dog walks, i have several other dog walkers i regularly refer out to when i am too busy so don’t hesitate to get in touch. i can put you in good hands.

second, and the real reason for this post, is that with carnival season in full swing and the first big weekend of parades approaching, i have a few scheduling notes. my regular daily clients will all be serviced, but i will not be taking on extra walks in the evenings on any parade nights, nor any extra weekend work this weekend or next. this dog walker LOVES carnival and parades so i will not be working during any of them. and that includes fat tuesday itself – i will be taking the entire day and night off to partake in the festivities.

i will be working lundi gras, as needed by my regular clients, til 5pm. and i will resume service on ash wednesday in the late morning.

i hope everyone has a safe and fun carnival!

opening…

just a quick note to put it out there that i do have an opening – in the midday to early afternoon timeframe – for an additional daily walking client in the uptown or midcity areas. so if you or anyone you know is looking for monday – friday daily walks for their dog(s), let me know!

happy new year and carnival!

just wanting to wish everyone a happy new year! and for my new orleans folks, happy carnival!

wags by mags! is moving into its 5th year of existence and i’m so grateful for all my clients – animal and human – and to all my friends and supporters. when i first launched this business, i wasn’t sure what i was getting myself into and had no idea it would still be sustaining me all these years later. but here i am, hundreds of dogs and cats later, still going strong!

so here’s to a wag-filled 2015! make the most of every moment and make every day count. and thank you for the honor of taking care of your animal family members.

back from vacation!

big thanks to all my clients for working with me to arrange my 3 weeks off for a much needed vacation to the woods of michigan! it was lovely and relaxing and rejuvenating and i really needed it.

i am home and ready to get back to work bright and early monday august 18th. get in touch if you haven’t already heard from me if you want to get on my daily dog walking schedule for the fall or if you want to book for cat or dog sitting from now through the new year.

thanks everyone!

interesting pet sitting statistics…

one of the professional organizations i belong to – pet sitters international – does an annual survey of its members they call the “state of the industry” survey. i’ve never shared this information here before but i always find it pretty interesting and it’s helpful to me in gauging how i’m doing compared to the national average. here’s some of the most interesting bits, fyi:

Who are PSI pet sitters?

According to PSI’s 2014 survey, 98.3 percent of its pet-sitting businesses are independently owned—and the majority of businesses are owned by women: 82 percent, with an additional ten percent owned by a female/male team. Ninety-five percent indicated they carry pet-sitter liability insurance and 83 percent carry both liability insurance and bonding.

Additionally, these pet sitters have completed at least some college (90.2 percent), with 34 percent having obtained bachelor’s degrees and 14.8 percent obtaining graduate level degrees.

What pets are they caring for?

The 2014 survey found that PSI pet sitters offer services for a variety of pet species from Chihuahuas to chinchillas. While dogs and cats are the species pet-sitting services most commonly offer services for—96.5 percent and 94.7 percent respectively—more than half of the pet sitters responding to the survey also offer services for birds, fish and cage pets. Eighty-eight percent also indicated they provide pet-sitting services for special-needs pets.

Who is using professional pet sitters?

PSI’s survey found that the pet-sitting client demographic has changed little since the 2011 survey. On average, the typical pet-sitting client is a married couple between the ages of 36-50 (44 percent). Survey respondents indicated there are more married couples without children in the home (44 percent) than couples with children (32 percent) who use their services.

How’s business?

  • The average annual revenue for 2013 was $49,380.
  • The average number of clients was 107.
  • The average number of pet-sitting assignments was 2,201.

And the big question…fees charged? According to the 2014 survey, here is the average duration and fee for the following services:

  • Basic pet care: 32 minutes, $18.67
  • Dog walking: 31 minutes, $18.23
  • Overnight sits: 15 hours, $63.18

i’d like to point out that the national average cost for a half hour basic dog walking visit is approximately $18 and falls right in line with my sliding scale of $15-$20/half hour visit. and my overnight fee of $40-$50/night is a downright bargain! i will assure you though that i have a long way to go to attain that average annual revenue number – i sure wish i was making that much a year with this business!

vacation notice

wags by mags! will take a much-needed vacation to the annual michigan womyn’s music festival in late july through mid august. we will therefore be unavailable for dog walking and/or pet sitting bookings from saturday july 26th through sunday august 17th.

please make a note of these dates if you are looking to book during this time. and thanks for your understanding and support!

new video!

look what my best pal, award-winning author and filmmaker e.e. charlton-trujillo, made for me!! a wags by mags! promotional video!

i love all the action shots of my adorable clients! and yes, i’m a big ole’ dork and i’m nervous in front of a camera – don’t hold it against me!

so, yeah, this is what i do all day. i walk. i love on animals. don’t you wanna hire me?

three years!

i realized the other day that i – and by that i mean, wags by mags, LLC – am celebrating my three year anniversary of dog walking and pet sitting full time! i can’t believe it. my how time flies!

i don’t really have a specific day or even month that i think of as an official start to this business, as it was sort of a rolling process over six months. it all began in december 2010, when i was offered a regular gig walking one dog three times a week by a friend who had started a dog walking business but then had decided not to do it; she was looking to pass off a client to someone else. as i was in desperate need of money at the time, i took it, not thinking much of it other than that it would at least be some steady money coming in for little time commitment while i looked for other work. (this was during a particularly low point in my life after a major relationship break-up and my art and writing businesses had dwindled to next to nothing.)

spicy saying goodbye to me on my last day of walking her

spicy saying goodbye to me on my last day of walking her

well, as it turned out, i fell in love with the dog (spicy, an adorable boxer who i continued to walk until just a few months ago) and i started realizing that maybe this was something i could expand upon, make a go of. by march 2011, i had come up with a clever name, designed a logo, business cards and this website, and i was using social media to put the word out that i was doing this kind of work as well as making good use of craigslist to advertise for free. within a few weeks, i had all kinds of clients! it wasn’t an instant 40 hour work week, but it was one or two regular walking clients (that weren’t even friends! total strangers!) and a whole lot of occasional dog walking and pet sitting (mostly friends and friends of friends), enough to make me feel like i definitely had some momentum going with this pet business idea.

a few months later, around may 2011, as fate would have it, some friends knew another dog walker who was moving to hawaii and was looking to place her favorite clients with someone she could trust. our mutual friends hooked us up and boom, all of a sudden, i had a very full schedule! that month i filed the paperwork to make wags by mags official, a legal LLC, and joined pet sitters international and pet sitters associates, two of the more reputable professional organizations in the field, so i could learn more about my profession and also get liability insurance and bonding. (i’ve remained with both organizations and have learned a lot!)

and the rest, as they say, is history!

a rare shot of millie, one of my longtime dog walking clients, letting me love on her

a rare shot of millie, one of my longtime dog walking clients, letting me love on her

i recap all this to explain why i’ll be celebrating my three year anniversary from now through the spring. while i won’t be throwing any big parties (i don’t have a budget for that kind of thing), i do want to acknowledge it as an accomplishment that i’m proud of. three years in this business is nothing to sneeze at, particularly when you work solo, without any employees. burn out is very real in this line of work when you do it full time. it can get very monotonous, day in, day out, spending all your time alone with animals; it can be extremely physically demanding, walking 5-7 miles/day in every kind of weather from extreme heat/humidity to severe thunderstorms to sleet and sub-freezing temps; and it can be frustratingly time-consuming, as the hours can be nonstop when you pet sit at night and on weekends as well as dog walk during work-week daytime hours. i have definitely struggled over the years to maintain a balance of steady 9-5 dog walking clients with occasional night and weekend pet sitting gigs to supplement my income while still leaving enough time for myself to have a personal life of some sort. it’s not easy trying to maintain friendships and/or a relationship when you constantly have to be working nights and weekends, oftentimes overnight, when everyone else is having downtime and being social.

but i think after three years i’m getting a little better at it. the hardest part is learning how to sometimes say no when clients call. i’m a people pleaser – i always want to make people happy, especially if they are regular clients. but i’m learning to sometimes take time for myself, and i’m blessed that i currently have enough work to be able to occasionally say no. (i’m also blessed that my regular clients understand my need to occasionally say no and they continue to come back to me!)

romeo resting his head on my shoulder while i drive

romeo resting his head on my shoulder while i drive

[this seems a good point to interject that i do again have an opening for a daily dog walking client. i thought i had a new client that was starting up this week, but as it turns out, that fell through. so please spread the word that i could use one mon-fri regular walker or a few clients that together would amount to the same (two or three folks who could use me regularly one to three times a week). midcity, downtown, or uptown preferred.]

yes, this job/business has its downsides. but it’s also the best job in the world. i get to hang out with sweet, adorable dogs and cats all day (and sometimes night). i get to make my own schedule. i work for myself. i work outdoors, not in a stuffy office. i get to ride my scooter all day. i get lots of exercise and get paid to do it! i get to see so much of the city i love, experience so many different neighborhoods and architecture, see how so many different people live. it’s fascinating, really. and i’ve met some really wonderful folks who love their animals so much.

i really am just so grateful to have stumbled upon this life, this work. i had no idea what i was getting into when i started, but i’ve learned a lot along the way and have become a better person through it all. so thank you to every single person who has ever hired me to care for their pet – and there are hundreds of you at this point. without you and your trust, i could not be doing this. i could not be having the life i have now, which, despite its ups and downs, is a pretty fucking good life.

here’s to the last three years! and, i’m looking forward to seeing what this next year will bring.

me and pig the pug being silly.