At the end of 2012, I made the tough decision to leave a very lucrative job as vice president of sales. I was burned out. I had been in sales my entire working life, and the stress and constant travel had just gotten to be too much. In March of 2013, I decided to do some dog sitting to help pay the bills. Now as 2014 comes to an end, I’m still at it and loving (almost) every minute of it.
How much do I love dog sitting? Let me count the ways.
1. New adventures
I’ve been able to go to a number of places I’d never been before. I’m ashamed to say that this Los Angeles native had never been to many of the iconic and wonderful locations this city has to offer! Some of my now-favorite hiking spots with the dogs were new to me, including Elysian Park, home to Dodgers Stadium and brilliant views of the city; Hahamonga Watershed, which leads you up and over Devil Gates Dam and into the upper Rose Bowl trails; and the zillions of Griffith Park trails, including the Old Zoo, Amir’s Garden, Dantes View, and the Bronson Caves, which served as the Batcave entrance for ’60s TV show Batman. The list goes on!
I’ve known for a while that exercise is the most effective stress reliever for me. With the dogs, I get in an extra workout whether I want to or not. Due to my dog-sitting profile, not to mention my company name, the Active Pack, I tend to get very active dogs. That means everyone hits the trails. The big, the small, the young, the old, the pooped, the energetic — everyone gets out and about.
I never ever ever ever pee alone … ever.
4. Increased patience
Never my strong suit, but when walking four or more dogs at a time, patience is a must. Don’t even get me started on the “accidents” in the house.
I have an extra layer of warmth in the form of dogs whenever I’m sitting or sleeping. I’m always very cozy!
I had no idea yoga pants had such amazing dog-hair-attraction qualities. It’s really fascinating. I think my floor is clean, then I sit on it to put on my shoes, and I get up with enough dog hair on me to knit a sweater.
You know all that hiking? Sometimes you have to pee during a hike, and you are on a hill with no one but the dogs around. I’ve gotten really good at sneaking behind a bush if it is required. A nice big Golden Retriever helps you balance and screens your naked behind. I’m not going to admit I’ve peed in Batman’s cave … I’m just going to suggest it is a possibility.
8. Lessons for my pup
Riggins is an only child and would often show signs of “only child syndrome.” He is still my baby (and he knows it), but he has gotten much better and is now very happy to be a member of a pack. He is actually my go-to babysitter when I have to leave the house and throw a “Riggins is in charge” over my shoulder as I walk out the door.
In fact, just today on our hike we were heading up the hill, and Riggins was falling behind. After calling him a few times, I gave up and just stopped to wait for him (before you start the hate mail, we were at Runyon Canyon, which is a legal leash-free dog park). When he finally came bounding up, he had another hiker and a cute white puppy in tow.
“Your dog was making sure the big dogs down there weren’t hurting my puppy,” the hiker said. “That’s why he didn’t come when you were calling him.”
That’s my sweet boy! Protector of the pack.
9. A tan
From hiking. Sure, I have horrific tan lines in the shape of a tank top and multiple lines on my legs from shorts, crops, and socks, but I’ve never been this tan in my adult life.
I have to vacuum every other day or so. I have now used all of the attachments on my vacuum. It’s very exciting. How many people can say that?
11. Unconditional love
It’s amazing to me how quickly a dog will attach himself to me. Riggins has always been my companion, there for me through thick and thin. Now that feeling is just multiplied by two, or three, or four …
As I continue to hunt for a job that will pay me enough money to survive and allow me to breathe freely, I’m thankful for the ability to do this gig, learn so much, and be this happy!
Read related stories on Dogster:
- 5 Thank-You Gifts Your Dog Sitter or Walker Will Love
- Planning a Vacation? Here’s How to Hire a Good Dog Sitter
- From Sales VP to Dog Sitter: How My Career Is Following the Dogs
- 11 Reasons I Love Being a Dog Sitter
- Why I’m No Longer a High-End Dog Walker
- Let’s Talk: Do You Trust Your Dog Walker?
- 6 Ways to Relieve Repetitive Stress Injury in Dog Walkers
- What to Ask Your Future Dog Walker
- Do You Tip Your Groomer, Dog Walker, or Pet Sitter?
About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.