A dog with glassesWe are down to the last two letters in Guardian.  A stands to strengthen your ABILITY through on-going training (Pet Related Seminars, Public Lectures, Videos, Volunteer Work, In-House Certification Program, Reading and Internet Resources). As I was thinking about what to write I was taken back to the prehistoric days of pet sitting (19 years ago) when I started. In-home pet sitting as an industry is relatively in its infancy. Boy I wish I would have had the awareness then I have today about this industry. When I started it was believed anyone who loved animals and had animals of their own could get into the in-home pet sitting business. This belief has continued to escalate today. For me I was already in the midst of the business when one day I had a realization. As I was wearing the many different hats of a business owner/pet sitter I was at a client’s house and I realized that I did not have enough knowledge to be caring for other people’s pets. No one I talked to as I setup the business was concerned about how much animal related knowledge one needed (they didn’t realize it either).

I was fairly knowledgeable in caring for animals as the pets we had growing up and the bird and dogs that I had when I started the business taught me a lot. But not enough to be taking care of other people’s pets! Before I got into being a professional I took care of my neighbors and friends pets and on the day of awakening I realized that I had been extremely lucky that nothing had happened to the pets in my care. This was a defining moment in my life and in Guardian Pet Sitters®.

I set out to learn as much as I could about the animals in my care and to also pass this information along to the others working with me. I subscribed to every pet related magazine and journal, went to any seminars I could find in the area (there were very few), and asked many questions of my veterinarian and others in animal related careers. I also found others to work with Guardian Pet Sitters® who worked in pet related careers. I started attending NAPPS conferences. It was at this time that some were awakening to the need for animal related knowledge and the NAPPS conferences were a great place to hear many different speakers on various animal related topics. I attended national and regional meetings NAPPS offered even though they were out of state.

I held seminars for the people working with me and passed on what I learned. We would also have various speakers at our meetings to speak on different aspects of animal husbandry. I flew in a cat specialist from Houston to speak at one of Guardian Pet Sitters® meetings; we had a ferret specialist, canine specialist and many veterinarians teaching us emergency first aid and how to recognize different ailments and what to do in certain situations. A pet sitter needs to have a wide variety of knowledge. A pet sitter needs the knowledge of the veterinarian technician, nutritionist, canine behaviorist, cat behaviorist, and bird specialist etc.  to perform the job.

Out of my own need, I started a group for the DFW pet sitters to help us in getting animal education. I realized that our industry needed knowledgeable pet sitters to be recognized as true professionals.  We even had pet sitters from Austin and Houston who flew in just to attend our meetings. Trying to get the meetings setup was time consuming for me and unfortunately the group did not survive.

However, out of my quest for animal knowledge and how to run an in-home pet sitting company I volunteered and found myself serving on the board of NAPPS (1996 to 1999, co-chair of the NAPPS conferences from 1996 to 1998 and regional director from 1997 to 1999). This experience gave me exposure to many aspects of in home pet sitting and knowledge needed to be the company we are today.

Today we have the wonderful world of the internet and the knowledge we can gain about animals is on-going. You do have to be careful what you read and make sure the people you follow are themselves knowledgeable on the topics they write about.

Today I am still on the pursuit for knowledge for myself and the employees of Guardian Pet Sitters®. Attending conferences and seminars is important for me and the staff and we continue to hold meetings for the pet sitters. We have started an in-house accreditation program, we have speakers who speak on various animal related topics and we encourage our staff to educate themselves.

At Guardian Pet Sitters we believe knowledge about what we do is a key ingredient to quality pet care services. We strengthen our ability through our ongoing training and this helps us provide excellent pet care.