One-stop shopping for pet care

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Personalized pet care is a highly competitive industry, but Tanya Dawes, owner of Pet Pawsitive, knows that it’s her personalized approach and communication style that helps make her business stand out.

Dawes knows networking is an important part of any new local business so she has worked on building relationships with local vets and animal services, but is mindful not to step on other pet-sitters paws.

“My clients think she’s fantastic,” said Dr. Kristina Bennett, resident veterinarian at the Foster Park Pet Hospital in Belleville. “She’s great with animals and Pet Pawsitive is one of the only pet sitting service that will stay in the client’s home overnight.”

After moving to the Madoc area from the Niagara region in October 2008, Dawes decided that as long as she needed to find work, she might as well start her own business in Hastings County. Dawes took a few business courses and on Oct. 13, 2009, she registered her business as Pet Pawsitive.

Her clients include the average pets like dogs, cats, hamsters and rabbits, but she has also looked after a hairless guinea pig,bearded lizards and a pot-bellied pig.

Because pet sitting can require short visits at different points during the day, Dawes can’t hire someone part-time and guarantee them a certain number of daily minimum hours.  This job is more than just nine to five. Dawes uses a subcontractor to help with some of the dog walking when she can’t be in two places at once.

Her day starts with checking her schedule and cellphone. With more than 200 pet parents and each possibly having more than one pet, every day is different.

Dog walking is the main part of her daily routine, with pet sitting being more sporadic and sometimes includes overnight stays.  Dog walking is Monday to Friday, 52 weeks a year.  If the pet visit involves a feeding, then it’s considered pet sitting.

“I love my job.  I look forward to going to work,even in snowstorm,” said Dawes.

Dawes works anywhere from 65 to 85 hours per week and has put over 100,000 kilometres on the vehicle she bought just 15 months ago. 

“I spend a lot of time in my car,” she laughed.

The first thing most people ask when inquiring about her business is whether she’s insured,which she is.

Potential new clients start with the one-hour meet and greet. This is an opportunity for Dawes to learn about each of the pets, the family and what services and scheduling the family is looking for.

“Getting to know each pet is very important because then I can know if their behaviour is normal or a sign of distress,” said Dawes.

At the end of each walk or visit, Dawes completes a checklist, giving the pet parent a report of how the visit went and what the pet did. 

When it comes to overnight stays, Dawes wants the pet parents to know that she’ll keep coming unless she hears from them.

“If their plane gets delayed or they’re going to be late and have no cell service, they have the peace of mind that their pet will still be cared for.”

Something that surprised Dawes most about her business is that she now can’t live without her cellphone.

“Pet parents can reach me at any time and I can keep updated with any last minute changes,” she said.

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