Just a dog-walker, or “compassionate companion-animal care”

couple of boxer breed dogs walking outside on the green grassRecently, a friend told me about her dream of leaving her corporate job and finding a way to make a living doing what she loves — in her case, caring for people’s pets. She already had a name picked out, “Caring Hearts Dog-Walking” and was thinking about how many of her elderly neighbors might want her to walk their dogs.

After we chatted for a while, she realized that she wouldn’t be able to make much of a living if all she did was get paid to walk dogs. Sure, she would be more reliable than the kid down the block, but her neighbors won’t be willing to pay more than $15/hour for her services.

I reminded her that she had just completed her certificate in dog massage and had experience with special-needs pets, and encouraged her to think of herself as a trained professional who brought a range of skills to each companion animal. She isn’t just a dog walker; she provides services that support the pets her clients love.

She decided she would have an informational interview with a friend of hers who is a veterinarian, to find out how she could best support people whose pets were recovering from an illness or injury, medically frail or just old and in need of special TLC. How could she enable people to keep their pets who otherwise would have not been able to provide the support their pets need?

By focusing on where she can offer the most value, she builds a business on clients who would never consider using anyone else for their pet care. She becomes competition-proof, because she offers a level of service that people who see themselves merely as dog walkers never think to provide.

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