When I was younger – and like many other bright-eyed children before me – I decided that when I grew up, I was going to become a veterinarian.
“I’m going to save aaaaaalll the animals!” I told my parents.
“Uh-huh,” they responded.
“In the world!” I insisted.
“Yes, possum,” they agreed. “But … er, why don’t you come along to the vet with us next time to triple check it’s the right career for you?”
I enthusiastically agreed. After all, our vet clinic was like a tiny oasis for me. All those pets contained in one space? Dream. Come. True.
And so, a few weeks later I shuffled in after my parents and stood, ever so patiently, as they placed our cat, Bob, on the table for our vet to inspect.
Ten-minutes and a scream of horror later (‘Where are they putting that stick, Dad? ARGH!) and I was vowing to never step foot into a vet clinic again, let alone become one of them.
Today, I am an out-and-proud writer who spends her free time learning about animal behaviour and psychology as well as pet wellness. Learning – not doing – because although I have a healthy respect for vets, I discovered long ago that a weak stomach and fear of blood are just two of my flaws.
But this has left me in a bit of a pickle. You see, I love animals. Adore them. Worship the ground they walk/hop/waddle on. But I have a lot of love to give too. And while my two kitties keep me busy and content, I also like to meet and hang out with other pets.
But … how to do that without lurking around the dog park like a weirdo (which, I’m ashamed to admit, I also do)?
Enter my dream job.
Pawshake Pet Sitting
I can’t remember how or where I stumbled across Pawshake, all I can tell you is that it has made my dreams come true.
Pawshake is an Australian pet sitting site that allows you to search for verified pet sitters in your community to take care of your pets. Think of it as a dating site for pet owners and pet sitters to meet and make their perfect match.
“Pawshake was created in 2013 by Dries Coucke and Tanguy Peers, two former eBay and Kijiji senior employees who have harnessed their experience to benefit a global community of pet lovers.” Sarah Gaulness, Community Manager at Pawshake, explains. “They saw a gap in the market for a service that connects pet owners directly with pet walkers and carers, rather than using kennels which can be expensive and cause anxiety for both pets and owners.”
She continues: “It benefits both the sitter and the owner – I was a sitter before I started working for the company, and I love animals but can’t have an animal in my apartment. So it’s the perfect solution for me – I get to interact with animals regularly, while getting paid and becoming part of a wonderful community of pet owners and pet lovers.”
How Pawshake works
Pawshake is free and super easy for owners and pet sitters alike to sign up to (you can even be an owner AND a pet sitter, like moi). Once you’ve signed up, you simply create a profile for you and your pets (this is mine, in case you were interested).
After that, there are two directions to take:
If you’re a pet owner looking for someone to take care of your pets, you can search through pet sitters in your local area and then message them for a chat and an obligation-free meet-and-greet.
If you’re a pet sitter, you sit back and wait for pet owners to reach out to you.
My experience with Pawshake as a pet sitter
In a nutshell? A ++
While I don’t plan on making pet sitting my full-time or even part-time job, I’ve had an awesome experience with my Pawshake animal pals.
The meet-and-greets with the pet parents have been easy – even for a shy, introvert like me – and hanging out with the pets has been SO much fun!
I’ve done a mix of home visits (where I pop in to the pet’s home once or twice a day to feed, play, walk and hang out with them) and overnight stays (where I sleep at the pet’s place and am their live-in minder) and have enjoyed both experiences.
All the pets I’ve minded have been wholeheartedly lovable and well behaved and, thankfully, I haven’t faced any dramas or issues.
I’ve also found that there are a few advantages to using Pawshake:
- There are a range of options for pet owners to choose from, like having someone come to your house, boarding your pet at somebody else’s home or having once, twice (three times a lady) visits each day to your home. Flexibility plus!
- Pawshake is fully insured and offers free premium insurance for your pet and third parties.
- Pawshake handles the money side of things (they take a cut of the fee, which comes out of the pet sitters’ side) so it’s safe and secure … and there’s no awkward exchange of money.
- For pet owners, there’s peace of mind knowing that Pawshake vets the profiles and offers owners the chance to review sitters so there’s total transparency.
- They have 24/7 support for pet owners and pet sitters.
- Pawshake also have their own app that allows you to communicate with your pet sitter/pet parent and share photos, videos and information about your pet.
As a pet sitter, you get to set your rates and manage your bookings (you can choose to reject or accept reservations) so it feels like you’re running your own business.
The only suggestion I would make is to ensure you have a questionnaire prepared for the pet parents to fill out before your booking commences.
Going away can make even the most organised person a bit scatterbrained, so having a standard questionnaire for your pet parents to fill out will guarantee you have all of the must-have info.
Besides that, make sure you turn up with the right attitude! Animals are incredibly intuitive and will know if something is ‘off’. So if you need a bit of time before your pet sitting job commences to become your usual calm and peaceful self, make sure you take it. Every pet deserves a carer that is mindful, calm and loving.
Want to become a Pawshake pet sitter?
Or maybe hire a local Pawshake sitter to care for your pets?
Check them out – and create your profile – at www.pawshake.com.au
And if you’re extra keen to get your first booking (I know I was!) here are three tips from Sarah on how to make your profile stand out from the crowd:
Make sure you write a comprehensive and friendly description of yourself and your experience on your profile.
Include several photos on your profile, and have your face in your main profile picture.
Always respond to all the messages you get from pet owners, even if you can’t take the job.
Organise meet and greets and soon as possible after first contact, so the pet owner and you can see if the pet is the right fit for you.
Send photos of the pet when you are looking after it – owners love their pets and love to see that they are having fun and being cared for.
I hope this has given you a little bit more insight into Pawshake and the pet sitting experience!
Please note: I am not an affiliate for Pawshake and have not been reimbursed for this review. If you have any questions or comments about this review, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org