For this edition of the “Sitter Spotlight,” I spoke with Svenja H., in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Svenja, a native of Germany and moved to North Carolina only about a year and a half ago! She and her husband, who is on active duty with the Army, met while he was stationed in Germany.
It was a joy and a pleasure to speak with Svenja about her transition to living in North Carolina, her dogs, Minnie & Izzy, her plans for the future & some of the great experiences she has had already through Rover!
How did you get started pet sitting or dog walking?
I tried finding a “normal” job, like I was used to having in Germany (so basically a 9-5 office job), because I thought that’s the right thing to do after just moving to another country. I quickly started becoming discouraged and unmotivated after being either denied or not hearing back from employers at all.
I started feeling depressed, as all I did was sitting at home all day long, alone, with no friends or immediate family, So I tried finding a way to at least keep myself busy. That’s when I discovered Rover and I thought I should give it a try. Now a year later I realize it’s the job that I always needed.
I finally understand the saying “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”
How long have you been pet sitting or walking with Rover?
A little over a year I think; it started out really slow for me, as I didn’t really know how to use any type of business advertising tools. Customers were rare at first but when I started seeing it as a business and not a hobby it got big quickly. I’ve been full-time sitting/walking since February this year!
For you, what is the best thing about being a pet sitter or walker?
Seeing how excited the pups are when they realize their other “best friend” has come to visit. Being able to be their highlight during a long work day for their parents and knowing that pet parents feel more at ease about being gone from home!
Would you tell us about causes or activities you devote your time to or issues you feel passionate about?
I volunteer at the shelter as well as serving as a foster-mom for dogs through Three Sisters And A Brother Animal Rescue. The best feeling in the world is knowing you might have just saved a pup’s life by opening your home and heart to it, when otherwise the dog’s time likely would have been over if it wasn’t for the rescue and the foster parents.
Also, I just started school for canine training and behavior so that’s a big part of my life too. I am hoping to be able to apply my training skills to shelter dogs to make them more ‘attractive’ for potential adopters (you know, the cute stuff - like ‘shake paws’ or ‘roll around’ besides the basic commands).
I especially have a thing for all bully breeds, and I am hoping to be able to get rid of their bad stigma when showing potential adopters how great they are!
What's your sitter "super power"?
Thanks to my parents I grew up with always at least one dog around me, it became second nature for me to be around dogs and learn about them. Thanks to that I can adapt to dogs and their needs in an instant. Playful pup? Let’s go wild! Calm cuddler? Let’s cuddle! Anxious and nervous prior shelter-dog? I’ll sit with them as long as it takes until they start feeling less scared. I’m not afraid to take on “difficult” dogs either, I know exactly how to act around all different kinds of dogs and how to get them to be comfortable with me!
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?
It’s funny - after a busy day of walking or sitting I love to actually go from ‘business’ to ‘private’ and walk my own dog! Even after all the steps I walk during the day the walk with my own dog feels different and it actually lets me clear my head after a busy day. Sometimes when I’m still a little stuck in ‘work mode’ and my dog does her business I catch myself opening the Rover app and wanting to mark a ‘pee’ in the report card!
What is your favorite podcast, TV show and/or movie?
I’ve been told that I have a weird sense of humor, and that actually reflects in the shows and movies I watch. I love AMC’s “Preacher” and “American Horror Story” and I enjoy scary movies in general.
But the movie that gets me every single time, no matter how many times I watched it - Marley & Me - I cry EVERY SINGLE TIME!
Do you have a favorite story about a dog you have met through Rover?
Just a few weeks ago on a Friday night at 10 pm, I received an odd request.
The Owner that contacted me said she was an Army vet and had an emergency that morning and blacked out while driving her car.
This led up to her being in the hospital ever since and she was passed out for half the day. She said she had a pitbull (I am a sucker for all things bully anyway) and he's was a 130 lbs chunk of love.
The Owner needed someone to check on him in 30 minutes (so drop in request for 10:30 pm) as this emergency obviously kept her away from him all day and he needed someone to take him out, feed and love on him.
She said she had the key with her & asked if I was willing to come get the key and go take care of her big guy.
All the alarm bells that would usually ring within a sound person’s mind rang (very late, very dark, unknown and 130 lbs heavy dog, unknown area 45 minutes away from my home, me having to drive to the hospital to pick up a key...) and yet, my crazy, dog-loving self packed my husband (for safety reasons), my dog & walking bag and we drove to the hospital 5 minutes after receiving the initial request. Luckily, it was not a scam, as my husband first thought, and it turned out that lady was in dire need of help - so off we went to meet the pup!
My husband was waiting in the car while I - a little nervous about what to expect - opened the door and found was one of the most loving, most cuddly and most compassionate dogs ever!!!
He was obviously confused why his Mom was not home but he was so thankful and happy that he was not forgotten - you could literally see it in his eyes!
He now is one of my regulars and I love him to death!
The lesson in all this? Always be cautious with odd requests and dogs you did not meet yet; if you do not know how to read a dog's body language and you are nervous better let go of it.
But sometimes it is very much worth listening to your gut feelings. While it all seemed a little odd, deep inside I knew, this was someone that really needed help!
What advice would you give to a new sitter or walker?
Be patient. It takes a while to build up clientele.
Always go with your gut, if you get a strange vibe from a dog, listen to it.
Even though it’s hard - decline bookings when you don’t feel comfortable or vice versa. This one is very important but it can be hard realizing that not all dogs are a good fit for you or the other way around! Also prepare to meet a bunch of great people and be appreciative of their trust towards you!
Thank you so much, Svenja! It was so much fun to hear all about your adventures and experiences!
If you’d like to learn more about Svenja, here is a link to her Rover profile!
Svenja is also active on her Facebook and Instagram, promoting her pet sitting services!
For further insights into the foster and rescue work that Three Sisters and A Brother take on, you can check out their Facebook page and website through these links:
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