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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Petsitting Work for a Fulltimer

John and I have been RV fulltimers and periodic workampers for four years now. We began our journey with two dogs but had to let our fifteen-year-old Aussie Sheppard go just two years into our journey. For more than a year, neither of us wanted to add a new four-legged family member. But as I watched our cavalier King Charles spaniel Gingee become quieter and slower, I decided it was time to return to a family of four.
After several trips to human societies and SPCAs, John wondered if I might not like dog-sitting for other campers and RVers. He wasn't quite ready to expand the family. I latched onto the idea immediately as I was in serious need of an animal fix.
So off to the KOA office I went the very next day. I explained to the manager my qualifications and desire to be a service to other park visitors for the several months that remained of our stay. He thought my plan was a great idea as people were always asking for someone to watch their pets while they took day trips to the surrounding towns and cities. So my dog-sitting service was launched.
I made inexpensive business cards and said that I would work with any interested customer.

Dog-walking Business Card
My dog-walking business card featured our cavalier spaniel Gingee.
Before long, I had calls  from people wanting someone they could trust to watch over their beloved pets. Within the first week I sat Sadie, a shy little cockerpoo, Zeb, a rambunctious six-month old lab and Johnson and Jack, the Jack Russell terrier siblings.
I learned very quickly that handling big dogs can definitely take a toll on the body if one is not extra careful about how she twists and turns. I learned that a frightened dog does best with a direct approach and a kind voice.  Animals that rush to the door threatening to escape as I enter demanded a firm "back" as I quickly pushed inside. All the dogs seemed to respond best to a knelling position, an extended hand and a welcoming respectful tone as I gave them my full attention.
Since my goal for the summer had been improved health with more exercise and better eating (meaning less sugar, salt and carbohydrates), dog walking was great. Not only did I triple my daily walking activities but I had less time to crave or consume the foods that were problematic.
Anytime in the future that John and I stay long-term in a campground, RV resort or park, I'm going to hang out my pet-sitting/walking shingle again. I like doing my small part to assure that animals are respected and loved. The added benefits of increased exercise, meeting great new people and animals and making a little going-out-for-breakfast cash makes dog sitting and dog walking a great fulltimer vocation. Oh yes, and John had a reprieve from expanding our family to four (for a while anyway).
What service are you able to provide to others when you stay at a camping destination for an extended period of time?