We recently caught up with Alison Harper of Barnfield Pet Services who told us more about what a typical day entails for a professional pet sitter.
Alison’s pet sitting service operates in the South-West of England. This service allows pets to stay in the comfort of their own home, with Alison on hand to provide 24/7 care. Pet owners can enjoy their holiday, knowing that their pet can stick to their normal routine and not endure the possible stress of a kennel stay.
The Buddies team came up with some questions for Alison.
What does a normal day entail for you?
‘There’s no such thing as normal day when you work with animals and this very much depends on whether I am working away or looking after a pet at my own home.
A pet sitting working day starts when the animals that I’m caring for wake up. It then depends on what animals I’m caring for. I mainly look after dogs and cats however I have also looked after chickens and plenty of small furries with the occasional exotic too.
Animals are then fed and exercised according to the owner’s instructions with plenty of play, mental stimulation and cuddle times throughout the day.
During quieter times I take the opportunity to further my knowledge with home study. I’m currently studying for a Level 4 Canine Coaching Diploma.
I also find time to keep my social media accounts updated daily and send photos to the owners of the pets I’m taking care of.
At the end of the day, we take time to snuggle and fuss the animals before putting them to bed according to the owner’s instructions.
When I’m at home my day is totally different. I’ll be greeting dog owners when they arrive to use our private hire paddock (my husband does this when I’m away as he works from home), updating admin, book keeping, marketing and social media. The most important thing though when I’m at home is giving my own dogs and cats loads of love and attention!’ Explains Alison.
What is the best thing about the job?
‘I really enjoy being my own boss and the flexibility that running your own business provides.
Something else that I really enjoy too is getting to know the pet owners. It’s especially rewarding when an owner who’s initially worried about leaving their pet writes a lovely review about the care provided and books again for a future holiday.
It also goes without saying that I spend my days surrounded by animals…. what could be better?’ Says Alison.
What is the worst thing about the job?
‘Actually; I’m really lucky, there’s not much to dislike. If I had to select two negatives, they would be sick pets and book keeping.
Luckily it doesn’t happen very often but occasionally a pet may become unwell and need to be seen by a vet. This is awful. I worry so much about the animals in my care, probably far more than I do my own.
As for book keeping, it’s something that needs to be done but I dislike it with a passion. Maths is most definitely not my forte.’ Says Alison.
Any tips for getting into the job?
‘Gain as much knowledge as you can in animal behaviour and body language, especially canine, both in a practical way and through home study if attending college isn’t an option. Ideally attend a Canine First Aid course too.
Having a love of animals, whilst being essential, isn’t enough on its own. Make sure you understand the basics of running a small business, know what information is required by Inland Revenue, have insurance in place and if possible attend any free local courses that are available for start-up business, which also often include a free one to one with a business adviser.
Finally, do your research to make sure there’s a demand for your service.’ Explains Alison.
Alison’s company also offers a wedding chaperone service for pets during your big day. This service enables your pooch to be a part of your big day, whilst ensuring that they are well looked after.
You can find out more about Barnfield and the services they offer here.
A big thank you to Alison for taking the time to talk to us.