Today we’d like to introduce you to Brenda Loew.
Brenda, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
The inspiration for 4 Paws Dog Walking & Pet Sitting hit me like a bolt of lightning, a eureka moment, an epiphany. I’d been laid off, downsized and outsourced from five different companies over a twenty year period. I finally learned a very difficult lesson: working for large corporations meant having very little or no control over my career, income or life. A friend suggested I read Spencer Johnson’s best-seller, Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life. The book motivated me to invest in a new career path relying entirely on my own talents and skills. An animal-lover from the day I was born, I embarked on my new journey as a dog walker and pet sitter. I posted low-budget promotional flyers listing my at-home pet care services in pet stores, veterinarian offices, on utility poles and in laundromat bulletin boards. I got some free advertising by teaching a course at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. “How To Start a Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Business” quickly became one of their most popular night classes. Inquiries from pet owners started coming in. Today, I not only book dog walking and cat sitting clients but also routinely accept small caged animal jobs (i.e. ferrets, chinchillas, rats, gerbils, guinea pigs, bearded dragons, tortoises, frogs, birds, etc.) and customers with salt and fresh water fish aquariums. I provide vacation and emergency house watching (house sitting) as an add-on service for my established clients. I am bonded and insured, a member of two trade organizations: Pet Sitters International (PSI) and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitter (NAPPS), passed the Pet First Aid course given by the American Red Cross, earned the title “Certified Professional Pet Sitter” from Pet Sitters International by passing (with high marks) their rigorous exam, and serve as an emergency volunteer with the City of Newton Police Department’s Animal Response Team. My customers with young children love my published picture book, Punk Finds a Forever Home, available on Amazon, which introduces preschoolers to the concepts of animal rescue, animal adoption, veterinary care, and the humane treatment of dogs and cats who are lost, abandoned, unwanted, or have special needs.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
In a few simple ways it was easy transitioning from being a corporate team player to my own boss as a pet care provider. I replaced my office wardrobe with jeans, sweatshirts, baseball caps and running shoes. No more sitting in front of a computer for eight hours. Instead I was walking several healthy miles a day, visiting cute puppies and kittens, dogs and cats so full of innocent spirit. Caring for pets was so much more rewarding. However, the changeover to life as an entrepreneurial self-starter was a lonely and daunting challenge. I was solely responsible for my income and survival. No more automatic electronic paycheck deposits every two weeks. No more calling in sick and getting paid anyway. No more vacation days or personal days. No excuses for “car problems” or bad weather. Suddenly, I had become my own boss, executive assistant, human resources department, IT department, advertising department, customer service representative, bookkeeper, and dispatcher. Whatever the weather, live animals were waiting for me. I had no choice but to make my decision work.
Please tell us about 4 Paws Dog Walking & Pet Sitting.
4 Paws Dog Walking & Pet Sitting proudly and professionally provides custom, loving pet care visits at the pet’s home. I offer a free initial consultation and a “no penalty” cancellation policy. I specialize in leashed, neighborhood dog walks and pets with special needs, including feral cats, older dogs, and dogs with behavioral, physical or medical restrictions. For example, some dogs chase cars, do not like loud noises or are free spirits and cannot run loose at off-leash dog parks. Others cannot attend doggie daycare due to age, aggression, visual or auditory impairments, arthritis or other mobility issues. Some pets are post-surgical and/or need medication or have breed limitations. I do administer medication in pill or liquid form. (I do not offer insulin injections.) When circumstances permit, I will transport a customer’s pet home from the vet’s or daycare. I leave detailed, hand-written notes or send text messages and photos documenting the pet’s activities during visits. I also provide weekend, evening, holiday, vacation, and family emergency pet care visits as well as vacation and emergency house watching (house sitting) — bringing in mail and deliveries, checking electricity, heat, air conditioning, alarm systems/security, watering plants and gardens, etc.– for my established clients. I’ve had puppies, dogs, kittens, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, turtles, and chameleons as my own personal pets and I care for my clients’ pets as if they are my own. The pets know it and their pet parents acknowledge it! I constantly receive emails and texts from my customers thanking me for coming home to happy pets! I was very proud when Angie’s List notified me they were awarding the 2015 Super Service Award to 4 Paws Dog Walking & Pet Sitting because of the large number of “A” reviews submitted by satisfied pet parents. I feel very appreciated and grateful for this work!
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I have always loved animals of all kinds, especially personal family pets. But I bought into the myth that a successful career meant a job in the corporate world for the security of a reliable paycheck and benefits package. If only I had known that being an employee in a large corporation guaranteed absolutely nothing, I would have listened to my inner voice twenty years ago and followed my passion for animals by establishing and growing a successful pet care business of my own!
- Dog Walks (one dog) – $20
- Dog Walks (2 dogs) – $22
- Cat Sitting visits (one cat) – $18
- Cat Sitting visits (2 cats) – $20
- Cat Sitting visits (3 cats) – $22
- Small Caged Pet visits – $20
- House Watch visits – $20
- Address: 1144 Chestnut Street, Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464
- Website: http://4pawsdogwalking.com
- Phone: 617-797-0048 (cell/text)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/4PawsDogWalkingPetSitting/
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/4-paws-dog-walking-and-pet-sitting-newton
- Other: https://www.petsit.com/pet-sitter-newton-ma-4-paws-dog-walking-pet-sitting