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  • Writer's pictureLinda

Are you too old to become, or stay, a professional pet sitter?

60's, 70's, 80's, 90's ?

Are you too old to become, or stay, a professional pet sitter?

What makes someone too old to be a professional pet sitter? Is there a magic age that someone must stop? What types of pet sitting can/should someone do if they are a senior citizen?

The bottom line, as in any profession, is to answer the question, "Am I physically and mentally fit enough to do the duties this profession warrants"? It is the same for pet sitting.

But, will clients want an older pet sitter? This is an easy question and I suppose I became aware of the response to this question in different ways through the many years I had a pet sitting business. Clients want sitters that can connect with their pets, be honest, do a good job, and will go the extra mile if need be to care for and protect their pets.

Many times, as a female non-senior citizen, clients would tell me "My dog only likes women sitters. They are afraid of men". Or, "I, as a female client, feel safer with a female sitter in my home than a male". For some then, it is a matter of personal connection and psychological needs, as well as the practicality of needing a pet sitter. Some potential clients would call and ask if I had a male on staff because that is what they needed or preferred, or they'd ask my age. A sitter has to be ready to answer these genuine questions. Of course, there is a limit to the personal questions that can be ask, but I understand the relevance of some of them.

As long as a senior citizen (or anyone for that matter) is in good general health, has mental acuity, good business and people and pet sense, they can be a sitter and a successful one at that.

What are a few things that an older worker has to consider when embarking on such an endeavor, and what type of client might they want to market their services?

Perhaps someone in their 80s who is healthy might know their limits and not want to walk a huge strong german shepherd that has never had any training to walk properly so they are not pulled to the ground. (That could happen to almost anybody of any age, right?) But perhaps a nicely trained dog that is large would work be a good match for them?

Maybe someone of a certain age would advertise that they walk small and medium dogs only, or maybe they will choose to pet sit for only cats because a lot of stamina isn't needed for outdoor weather, hills, large dogs to be walked, etc. So, tailor-making your business to your needs is something to think about as an older worker.

If you are a senior whose had a pet sitting business for some time and wants to slow down a bit, then either stop acquiring new clients so the number of pets in your care is slowly reduced or hire employees or independent contractors to pick up the slack or take on the larger pets on your roster.

Perhaps you might want to step back altogether and just do the management of the business as you bring in a business partner and employees to help with the rest. You can be the main point of contact, handle the management of the business, train and consult, and do the occasional pet sit if you'd like to get your furry fix for the day.

Older workers are great because they have a life's worth of wisdom, business, and customer service sense that can enhance their business.

Some things to think about as you choose to start, or continue on in this field as an older worker:

* What are your strategies for self-care during inclement weather situations - how comfortable are you in navigating things like dog walking on icy sidewalks where falls and hip injuries are possible?

* How will you address concerns with potential clients who might have questions about your physical abilities? They have a right to ask - I think so anyway. For example, as a female, I've had people ask me if I could handle their large dog, or could I walk two or three strong dogs at once. It is a fair question for people of any age.

* Will you want to continue your business full-time or bump it back to part-time?

* What is your personal exercise routine to stay healthy at an advancing age? Do you work out in a gym? Life weights? Jog? Are you keeping fit in order to keep engaging in this profession?

* Why not gather a few other seniors as employees or contractors (see above photo) so people can work in teams of two?

The bottom line to me is if you are healthy and can do the work, if you are vibrant, confident, and love pet sitting, then go for it. At the same time, your body will start giving you signs when you should slow down or stop altogether, and sometimes that starts before you are even a senior, but we all know that aging happens and we have to make adjustments as necessary.

I've met many older pet sitters in my time and some of them have morphed their roles during the many years they've been in business. You don't have to give up a business you love due to your age if you get creative. You have to be honest with yourself too and when it is time to stop, you'll know.

Keep going. Keep growing. Keep pet sitting for as long as you can!


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