The True Adventures of a Free Pet Sitter
We started Dogma, Free neighborhood pet sitting, because we realized we needed something just like it, yet the typical pet care market lacked such a service. We make a middle class income and yet when it came to pet sitting and holidays, we always had issues finding a pet sitter and / or money to pay for a vacation and to pay for pet sitting as well. We started Dogma because we wanted to find people, like us, who wanted to exchange pet sitting. We built the website, invited users and everything is going great, except… nothing is the same anymore.
When we started Dogma, I thought to myself that we could find other people to exchange pet sitting services with and that would be that. It was a selfish motivation. I wanted to get free pet sitting. I never thought I’d experience anything more.
In the last 6 months I have met and gotten to know some amazing people who have helped me see and understand things I never cared about before. Here are three stories that have made my free pet sitting experience a true adventure and emotional roller-coaster ride!
Part One: The Teacher
A lady put a request on Dogma for free pet sitting. I accepted and met up with her and found out that she had been unemployed for over a year and that she was going out of town for a job interview. She had a few dogs and a couple of cats that needed looking after and she told me that if it wasn’t for Dogma she wouldn’t have accepted the job interview. It hit me like a ton of bricks when she said that. I mean… here was a woman who wouldn’t leave her pets to go on a job interview in a different state.
I have a lot of friends in pet rescue and on Facebook they sometimes post Craigslist ads of people leaving their dogs behind when they move to a new place. I had this preconceived notion that not a lot of folks love their pets as much as I do, but when you meet someone face to face who has battled the odds and is still fighting to keep their pets despite all the challenges of life, it opens the mind to the different circumstances and hard choices we all must make. I remember on that day that I had met this lovely lady, I had run so many errands and I was physically exhausted, but driving home that night, my heart was full.
Part Two: The Giver
At the very beginning of Dogma, I was promoting it in dog parks in DC and met quite a lot of interesting folks. One thing I realized early on in this Startup journey was that Users wont sign up until they need the service. The folks who sign up immediately are what I call, “The Givers” because whenever they sign up they reply to our welcome message with, “I am here to help” and truly they are.
One of the earliest members of Dogma had a dog that I pet sat for. They were a great couple and a wonderful family. Recently another member had requested for pet sitting in their area so I sent them an email with the usual formalities asking how they were and if they were available to pet sit. They sent me back a reply to let me know that their dog has passed away from cancer a week prior but that they would be happy to accept the pet sitting request.
How can you be in mourning and still want to help out a perfect stranger? I don’t know, but I am so thankful. I also try hard everyday to be more of a giver.
Part Three: The Retiree
One of our Members is retired and is over 70 years old. She pet sits for free because she loves cats and she has nothing else she would rather be doing. We met up recently and she told me she had made some money off of me. It was very cute. She said she got paid to pet sit for a member in Dogma and she was happy about it. She’s a retiree and has been receiving her retirement check in the mail and had no plans of getting a new job or wanting to get paid, but she was thrilled that a lady she pat sat for free recently contacted her again and asked her to pet sit, but this time wanted to pay her for it. She still pet sits for free and loves to do it, but its nice when other members show their appreciation.
It’s worth noting that this member recently had her cat euthanized. She’s been sad about that, but will not get another cat because she said, “I don’t know when the good Lord will come for me.” I realized that she doesn’t want the cat to be homeless when she passes. It’s the most beautiful and the saddest truth I’ve ever heard.
There are many more stories, experiences and adventures in being a free pet sitter and whether you are a teacher, a giver, a retiree or your own category, you should join. Join, if only, to meet your neighbors and get to know another side of life, love and loyalty and I promise you, when you meet someone who believes in paying-it-forward, it will touch you and change your life.