as of july 12th, i’m happy to report that wags by mags! llc is insured and bonded through pet sitters associates llc.
Monthly Archives: July 2011
i thought it would be fun to share with y’all what a typical workday is like for me and introduce you to some of my regular walking clients. i won’t be using their humans’ names, only the animals’ names, in order to respect my human clients’ privacy.
most days start around 9ish, heading out on the trusty scooter to walk the dogs who get two walks a day. right now, i have one regular and two intermittent twice-a-day households; it can get a little tricky when all three of them need two walks a day, as i try to get them all done before 11am. one is located in the cbd and the other two are uptown, but rather far apart within uptown. so on the days where it’s just the one regular twice-a-day client, i can leave the house a little later and take my time. but when i have two or all three of them to get to, i have to be on the ball and get to the first house by 9:30am. it can get a little hectic. thankfully, it doesn’t happen all that often.
most days, that first house is where millie and lucy live – two beautiful, gentle, sweet greyhounds. before meeting them, i hadn’t had any experience with greyhounds before, but wow. they are just amazing. i love their energy. when i first met them, millie was very skittish and shy; but it only took her a week or so to warm up to me. now they are both super affectionate and always so well-behaved. lucy has recently gone through a minor surgery on one of her toes, and the recuperation has been long and has meant that she’s had to sit out the walks and just go out in her yard. she was so sad seeing millie and i going for walks without her! but the foot is healing up great and we’ve been able to get back to regular walks with just a bandaid on the foot, so lucy is happy again. i really love spending time with them.
some days/weeks, i’m asked to give my cbd dogs, monk and romeo, two walks a day. (their normal walk is an afternoon walk, but sometimes i pick up a morning walk too, depending on their humans’ schedules.) romeo is a belgian tervuren (a kind of belgian shepherd) and monk is a mastiff/great pyrenees mix. they are big, furry dogs with monk being particularly large and intimidating-looking. walking them is like being with celebrity dogs; people stop us everywhere to ask “what kind of dogs are they?” (the #1 question), with stupid questions like “are those lions?” or “are they wolves?” close behind. most folks want to be able to pet them, and, well, that’s not really a good idea. neither of them is truly aggressive, but romeo is kind of a scaredy cat, and monk can be tempermental. he doesn’t like it when people look at him funny. and, well, when you look like monk does, it’s hard, cuz lots of folks stare at him cuz they think he’s really pretty or interesting, but he misinterprets it as a challenge or threat. so he lunges and he barks. and he’s loud. he looks pretty vicious, even though he’s not. i don’t generally have a hard time containing and correcting him – he’s actually really quite submissive and gentle – but the trick is just snapping him out of that high-alert mode, preferably before he’s lunged out at someone on the street. they can sometimes be a handful. but i love them to death. they are both super sweet and loving and really funny. they have great senses of humor, both of them. and are very playful in their home environment. i’d love to be able to go to a dog park or beach or somewhere where they can really run around and play, so i could really see their personalities come out.
and then the third sometimes twice-a-day client is kai, who is my newest client. she’s a cute little pit bull. we are still getting to know one another, but i can tell she’s a sweetheart. just maybe a little stubborn. or testing me to see what she can get away with. nothing a little pupperoni can’t fix, i’m told! i look forward to getting to know her better and getting into a routine with her. she likes to go on long walks on streetcar tracks where she can stop to smell every single thing!
so then by 11ish, i’m trying to make my way to the audubon park area to get to dozer. he’s my adorable french bulldog who is a regular daily walking client. again, a breed i hadn’t had much experience with before, french bulldogs, but that i’m quickly growing to love. dozer loves to go for walks. he loves to stop and sniff everything. and he particularly likes the idea of chasing squirrels in the park. (of course, i don’t let him do this, but he sure would love it!) he’s also really obsessed with lizards. i have seen him throw himself in the air like a projectile after a lizard. it’s really quite a sight! dozer is a sweetie and very well behaved – one of my best walkers.
next, i’m off to the other side of the audubon park area to the home of lucas and lillie. like millie and lucy and kai, lucas and lillie came to me by way of much-beloved new orleans dog walker extraordinaire ally kirk, who recently moved to hawaii. mutual friend katy green of twisted hair salon hooked us up together when ally was getting ready to move, knowing she was looking for someone to take over some of her special clients. and i was just getting started and in need of new clients! so it worked out beautifully for all parties. when i first met lillie, she was also really shy and skittish, didn’t trust me. but it didn’t take long before we were fast friends! and lucas is just a big old teddy bear who likes to walk around with his stuffed toys in his mouth. it’s so adorable. they are really easy and fun to be around.
after lucas and lillie, three days a week i then travel up to the garden district to walk spicy, a beautiful boxer gal. spicy is where it all began, back in december. my friend grey had just hatched the idea for her own dog walking biz and spicy was her first client. but shortly thereafter, grey needed knee surgery and asked if i wanted to take spicy on as an odd job until her surgery was over and she was able to get back to it. at the time severely under-employed, of course i said yes. and, well, the rest is history. spicy taught me that i really enjoyed hanging out with dogs and that maybe, just maybe, this could be a sustainable business for me. when we first met, she was super skittish and shy and scared of just about everything. she remains, after all this time, somewhat skittish. not towards me, but when we are out in the world, on our walks, she is still hesitant and on high alert, jumping at every noise. she has gotten much better – she used to pull so hard my arm would be sore, but with the help of a no-pull harness and some patient work on my part (and i’m sure her owner’s, as well), she’s gotten much better at walking. but we’ve still got a ways to go. nonetheless, i am totally in love with spicy. she’s got a sweet, playful spirit and we have a good rapport.
by this time it’s usually somewhere between 12pm – 1pm. on the days i don’t walk spicy, i get a longer lunch break. on the days i walk her, i have a shorter one. sometimes i manage to go all the way back home to make a sandwich and relax in the a/c for a while. sometimes i just stop in somewhere to get a quick lunch, somewhere in the lower garden district or cbd. occasionally, when i have those longer breaks, i might try to meet up with a friend for lunch or even take in a matinee at the prytania. those days are awesome!
but some days, i pick up a random walk in that time period, and then i get no lunch. (i usually stop and get a granola bar or fruit or something at a convenience store.) one of the random midday clients is one of my favorites – pearl. pearl lives in the irish channel and belongs to two of my good friends. she is the cutest puppy on the planet! another french bulldog, she’s less than a year old and quite aware of her cuteness. she loves to stretch out in the sun and pose for pictures. i usually only get to see her once every other week or so, but i always enjoy doing so. it’s really fun watching her grow up.
after lunch, it’s the morning schedule in reverse for the twice a day dogs. always monk and romeo. sometimes kai. always millie and lucy. and lately, now that it’s summer, it’s often raining or about to be raining, which often thwarts my walking plans. with millie and lucy, it’s easy – they have a yard and i can usually coax them out in it to pee, even though millie is super afraid of thunder. kai also has a yard but i haven’t really had to deal with the rain with her all that much so far; i guess we’ll see. but monk and romeo, living in the cbd, don’t have a yard, so when it rains, i either have to just walk them in the rain or wait it out until it stops, cuz there is no other option. so that can get complicated, especially when also trying to get to millie and lucy and kai. timing can be tricky. (which is why i had to stop servicing algiers point, because i used to have 2pm dogs on the point which really made it complicated!) but so far, it’s always worked out ok.
i am generally done by 3 or 3:30, 4 at the latest, depending on traffic and the rain situation. and whether i have a pet-sit stop that i am also incorporating into my schedule. on the easiest of days, i work 10-3 with a lunch break and life seems pretty grand. on the hardest, i work 9-4 with no lunch break, in the scorching heat and may or may not get drenched on the scooter at some point. those days can kinda suck. but the dogs always make it ok. it all balances out and in general, i’m so happy getting to hang out with dogs and cats for a living! it definitely beats working in an office or sweating it out hustling freelance writing gigs, and it even beats lugging all my art crap all over town trying to sell it. i miss having the time to create stuff, but hopefully i will get to a place where i can manage my time better and not be so exhausted when i’m not working. i think things will be easier in the fall and winter when it’s not so hot.
my afterhours and weekends can also sometimes be hectic, depending on how many pet-sitting gigs i take on at the same time. when i first started, i wasn’t saying no to anyone, and often found myself juggling three or four pet-sits (some dogs, some cats, some both) at the same time. but i quickly realized i really needed to learn how to say no and carve out some downtown for myself on the weekends. and some time to be social with humans! so in the past month, i’ve gotten a lot better about it. i’ve made a rule of only booking two weekends a month and leaving the other two free for fun and relaxation. that might occasionally change, depending who needs me (friends of course get preference) and whether i need to hustle to make extra money (like when i needed new tires for the scooter). but i think in general it’s a good rule to keep, at least while it’s just me without any other help.
speaking of which… i’ve been saying since i started that i want to hire some help. but lately i’ve been giving it a lot of consideration. and i do really want to assemble a team. not necessarily a bunch of other full-time positions – cuz i think i’m pretty far away from being able to fulfill that – but it would be nice to have a few folks i could call on (particularly for pet-sitting gigs) when i get more calls than i can handle by myself. i have lately had to say no to a lot of folks and i hate that. it would be great to be able to keep those folks as customers even if i’m not servicing them myself all the time. keep them in the family, so to speak. but it is hard finding just the right people to trust to bring on board with the business. i’m working on it.
so stay tuned. all this and more coming soon from wags by mags!
just a quick note to let all current and future clients know, i’m now set up to accept paypal payments for my services. i can invoice you via email or you can just initiate a payment yourself and send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org. (i’d appreciate it if you’d throw in 2.9% of your total to cover the fees paypal will charge me, though. thanks!)
this will be helpful for those who are not so great at remembering to write out checks or for those who call me on the fly for emergency/last-minute walks.