Having been a Mad Paws Sitter for over two years now, Ilona has the routines, walkies and feeding strategies perfected. It’s no wonder she has a 5 star rating, almost 200 fantastic reviews and 25 repeat clients who book with her time and time again! We caught up with Ilona to find out what makes her such a big hit with the pooches!
I’d heard about Uber and AirBnB; my interest was first in how the system worked. My background is business information systems so I was curious about how pet sitting would work in a partially virtual world. I read Mad Paws’ insurance coverage and how sitters were paid and realised that I would be protected if anything went wrong and paid for my work, so I signed up to see how it might work out. I wasn’t expecting much. It’s turned into a very pleasurable way of life for us.
Meeting all the dogs of course. Next would be the looks on the dogs faces when they realise that there is a walk every day. It’s as if they are thinking “what, again?! but we went yesterday!”. Once they are regulars know the routine, I do not get to sleep in; I have expectations to fulfil! What is particular about being a Mad Paws Sitter is that I don’t have to worry about the administrative support system, which once things got going for me, really was important.
Platypus. Fascinating creatures that have adapted to the Australian creek environment. Of course, I’d need a creek and so many other things. My second choice would be otters. There are places, such as Washington State, where otters nest under peoples houses, that would be a treat. But, being pragmatic, dogs are my first choice, they are connected to us and have evolved with us in a way that is special.
Communicate with your clients. Once there is a stream of bookings coming in it is important to keep on top of the flow of messages. Be frank with your clients too. When a client arrives, focus attention on the dogs and respond to them.
The owners can see that the dogs are happy to see me when they come back or I encounter them when they are walking with their owners. Also, ironically, it’s because the dogs don’t always want to leave! They are happy to see their owners, but think that leaving isn’t necessary. Quite a few dogs I’ve sat think we, that is, them, their owners and us, should live together as one big happy pack. The most extreme was Zac (RIP) who used to stand in the kitchen and look down the hall at his parents at the front door, not giving any indication that he wanted to leave and he wouldn’t mind if they stayed too. Yet his owners took him to work with them and he had a very good life with his family. He just wanted it all.
A modest income with enormous social rewards and lots of dogs.
A memorable behaviour is that everyone has to do the circuit of the yard when they first arrive, exploring and covering scents.
Sweetest pair of dogs would be the two Rottweilers that have stayed. They are also a very handy height to pat while I am standing.
There are several who check that their leash is in place every time we walk past it on the porch; as if to say “Yep, leash is there, walking can happen any time, I’m ready.”
The oldies are always a pleasure. When they are on repeat visits they have everything sussed out and settle in to their favourite spot quickly.
Walkies! Early morning walks with a pack of dogs is a great way to start the day. I feel kind of naked if I’m walking without at least one dog.
Lily (sister to Zac) deserves special mention. I have to be careful in what order I get ready for walkies. If I put my shoes on too early, or pick up the leash before I am ready to go, she starts barking in anticipation. She is definitely the chattiest dog. I always know when her mum arrives to drop her off because Lily comes straight through to my office at the back of the house to tell me.
Feeding is fun. Inevitably whatever is in someone else’s bowl is far better than whatever is in their own bowl. We have a room separation strategy that is executed at speed so that everyone finishes at about the same time, the doors are opened, and the bowl polishing commences.