My Story

Dan MacDonald as a child with his dog

I have been in the pet sitting business since 1998. The premise came out of the love for four legged creatures. I owned pets beginning in the 1960’s when I lived in Manhattan. My dog was given away as soon as my sister was born. Apparently Wendy was growling at her and my parents decided to give her away.

We moved to New Jersey in 1969, and to help with the transition (I wasn't a big fan of leaving Manhattan) I was awarded with a dog (yellow lab) and my sister, a cat.

“I loved my dog with all my heart and soul”. My father used to run 4-5 miles a day with her and she was a great companion. When she died, luckily I wasn’t there to witness her dramatic heartattack. I was in Ohio at the time, yet I knew that Midge was on her last legs, and who was to say how much longer she had on this earth. I never fully grieved for her, yet when I see this yellow lab belonging to a customer, Nancy Haigwood, my eyes begin to tear. I had a great time taking care of her dog Calvin.

Our Cat Jenny was a Persian Angora. We actually got her for free up in Cape Cod. The little girl who was giving away the kittens made a remark to my sister saying “you don’t want that one, she bites”. Jenny was undoubtedly the one she wanted to keep. The kitten would jump up on my lap and I would massage her until she would become so relaxed that she would actually fall off. I remember times when she would take her paws and kneed them into my tummy. My dad, a practicing psychiatrist in New York, came to the conclusion that she did this out of her ancestry, and was pushing down “the tall grass”. I learned later that it was something kittens do when they are nursing.

After graduating from college and embarking on a career in Ultrasound, I decided to take a job working in a veterinarian hospital. I wasn’t given too much responsibility, outside of cleaning cages and walking dogs briefly. The Vet was a bit strict and instructed all kennel workers that each dog was to be walked for 5 minutes, MAXIMUM. I couldn’t believe it, for every living creature needs more exercise than that. When I spoke up, I was quickly reminded of who I was and who he was, and I better follow his instructions. Needless to say, I didn’t last too long at that position.

My mom was always telling me that I should be doing something with animals. Professinal pet sitting hadn't started back in the 1980's. I wanted to incorporate my love for critters, but was unsure how to make a busines out of it. It wasn’t until many years later that my sister put the bug in my ear. She told me that pet sitting was a huge industry in San Francisco and New York. “You’re so good with animals, why don’t you look into it?” Well, I did. I read as many books as I could get ahold of, talked with other pet sitters, mentored, etc. I contacted Pet Sitters International and National Association of Professional Pet Sitters that provided me with information on how to obtain my license, bond and insurance, and they were also there if I had any questions. The R & D took about 4 months, and I was really excited to get going. Around July 15th, I contacted Robert at Whisker Watchers, an organization I mentored with, and asked him if there was anything else I needed to do before opening. Robert said, “looks like you have everything you need” and I opened soon after.

During the first few months, I held a part time job, yet started getting calls on my answering machine. I was starting to confirm appointments and eventually had to give up my temporary job. The business grew very fast and I started getting recommended by my clients to their friends. To this date, I’ve booked over a thousand accounts and it still continues to grow. Out of all the things I have done in my life, I can’t recall anything that I have enjoyed doing more. My enthusiasm for the business stirred my independent contractors that were employed in conjunction with my service. I hired about 15, some have worked out, many didn't achieve the requirements for the position and were let go. I have very high standards. I don't require much, just a willingness to learn, perform the job all the way through, and leave a good impression, so that the customer will continue to contact us for future visits.