If you are unfamiliar with the term “Renaissance man,” then John’s journey and experiences will give a vibrant example of the definition given in the dictionary:
John has had great success as a singer & musician (piano, guitar & sax). His work has been showcased with Sports Illustrated, NASCAR, PBS & more. John has toured around the country on these talents as well. However, after growing weary of all the travel, John started another journey. An odyssey, of sorts, into self-exploration & growth & joy. This person, John, is the man that picked up the phone that day--a positive force on the planet, Rover sitter and animal advocate.
Here’s what John had to share…
How did you get started pet sitting or dog walking?
Well, of course, it all started when my fiance Rebecca & I got our first dog, Penny, together over 5 years ago. You might say that my whole life became sitting & walking her!
But Rebecca & I had cared for her family’s dogs & cats for a few years before that. Then I started house sitting just because a friend asked me to. So, that was the origin of me “getting started” with pet sitting & dog walking unofficially. I wasn’t really planning on it but it just happened & I love it!
How long have you been pet sitting or walking with Rover?
I’ve been doing pet sitting & walking with Rover for about 6 months.
For you, what is the best thing about being a pet sitter or walker?
It’s two things:
One, it’s just spending time with the animals. I love that.
Dogs & cats just live in the moment, there’s no thinking about what the plan is for tomorrow or even in 10 minutes, they’re just here now. Being around the animals, that rubs off on me & almost serves as a reminder to be here in the moment & just enjoy life now.
Two, it’s spending time with & getting to know people. I love talking with people, especially fellow animal lovers, & sitting with Rover basically matches you up with people who love animals, so it’s awesome.
Would you tell us about causes or activities you devote your time to or issues you feel passionate about?
I actually work with an organization called PACT for Animals. We provide safe, temporary foster homes for the pets of members of the US military on deployment & for people in the hospital.
Think of this: What would you do if you had to deploy overseas or if you got sick & had no one to take care of your pets? There are so many people serving in the US military who have pets & who have a plan in place for who will care for their pet when they are deployed. But more often than not, as we’ve seen, those plans fall through. When that happens, they’re faced with having to give up their pets to a shelter, where they’ll never see them again. How awful is that?
PACT provides them with foster homes for their pets for 1 month to 2 years! That way, they can be reunited when they come home. We do the same thing for people who are hospitalized & have no one to care for their pet. You know, what if you get sick & no one can care for your pet while you recover?
It’s great knowing that PACT is there to help you keep your pets in those situations. I’m honored to be a part of that!
What's your sitter "super power"?
My sitter super power is simple: I love dogs (& animals in general) & people and it just works.
I consider other dogs part of my family because that’s just how I am. Sure, I send tons of photos, videos, photo collages & training tips to my clients, but those are things I do because that’s what I would want from someone sitting my dogs.
So...maybe my sitter super power is just that I’m a crazy dog lover - like my clients. :)
If you needed a pet sitter or dog walker, what are the top 3 characteristics you would seek out?
How do you recharge after a busy day?
You know, one of my favorite things to do is to just take a walk in nature.
Living here, right next to Philadelphia, I’m really fortunate to have a place called the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge to walk through. Just looking at the birds, the flowers, the trees, hearing the water, all of that just recharges me.
What is your favorite podcast, TV show and/or movie?
I’m a fan of a lot of movies, but my absolute favorite right now is Disney’s Christopher Robin.
Wow, this movie really hit home for me. The whole idea of Christopher Robin losing his way & thinking that working all the time was what he should be doing instead of spending time with his family, that was me.
Even during my music career & before that when I was always trying to start all these businesses & when I went into sales briefly, I used to think that I was working toward some big future where everything would be OK at the expense of spending time with my fiance & friends now.
But as Winnie the Pooh & friends reminded Christopher, what matters is what’s going on today, here & now, & spending time with friends & family. I could go on & on about how incredibly deep & profound this movie was for me, but that would be an entire article of its own! If you haven’t seen it, go watch it, but most importantly, live it! It’s one of those rare movies that actually makes your life better long after the credits roll.
Do you have a favorite story about a dog you have met through Rover?
Every dog I meet through Rover has an incredible story, and it’s this one:
The fact that their pet parents love them so much to use a service like Rover to make sure that they are well cared for. My favorite story is that every dog I meet through Rover is considered part of their family. The details may change for each dog, but what better story is there than that?
What advice would you give to a new sitter or walker?
I would say to be genuine & to always remember that, although giving top quality care to the dogs is the most important part of this whole thing, don’t forget that it’s the PEOPLE who decide to book you or re-book you again.
Send tons of photos, take videos, make the pet parents feel so good about their decision to have you sit their dog! You might be doing an incredible job & their dog may love you, but if the people don’t also know that, they might not book you, which then would mean the dog, you & the pet parents lose.
So send those photos! :)
You’ve had quite a journey through music and sales and travel, would you share some of your “aha!” moments?
You know it’s been an incredible journey so far & I’ve learned so much along the way. But the biggest thing that I’ve realized is my thoughts about success were misguided.
I used to think that learning things was about accumulating more & more knowledge, and that that would be how I would be “successful.” Or I would believe that cultivating some skill would make me “successful” & if I didn’t get that skill then my life was worthless or if I didn’t make $10 million then I’m a failure.
But now I’ve realized that, at least in my experience, success isn’t about accumulating knowledge or skills or money.
It’s recognizing who I really am and just being in the moment now. My life has more & more become being here & now, doing what flows naturally from that, and not always questioning “is this what I want to be or is this what I’m supposed to be doing?”
Living from that place, it’s just so joyful & fulfilling, more so than anything I’ve ever achieved has been! And ultimately living in the now led me to what I’m doing now with Rover & to saying these words right now & to you reading them.
(Another thing I’ll add is I’ve been extremely lucky to have my fiance & soon to be wife this October, Rebecca. She’s the most patient person, to have put up with me & my journey for so long!)
Whoa--John, thank you so much for sharing all of this with me & the Rover Community!
If you’d like to check out John’s Rover profile, you can do so here.
Also, the organization, PACT, that John is a part of and supports care for animals of deployed military personnel or those who may be hospitalized without options for pet care, has a website if you’d like to learn more about their mission or get involved.
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