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Side Gig Thursdays: Teresa Keel, Dog Walker & Sitter

Posted By Jim On 01/24/2013 @ 7:15 am In Personal Finance | No Comments

One of my favorite shows, that unfortunately was cancelled, was called How to Make it in America [3] and one of the side characters had a job walking dogs. I always wondered if it was something that could really sustain someone (it took place in New York City and I’m sure dog walkers are well compensated in NYC) and was happy to get to ask Teresa Keel about her side gig [4] as a dog walker and sitter.

By day, she’s an executive assistant. By night, she’s a dog walker for about five and a half hours a week including dog sitting, and she banks nearly $500 a month caring for basically two dogs a month. Now, after hearing this, I remembered a story about my friend who was paying close to $40 a day for a dog walker (it was a puppy and the little guy needed to go out often in the beginning) and I remembered how lucrative a side gig that could be.

Anyway, enough about me, let’s hear a little about dog walking as a side gig.

What is your day job?
I am an executive assistant.

What is your side gig?
My side gig is dog walking/dog sitting.

How many hours a week/month does this gig take?
This job takes 5.5 hours a week. I dog sit for two large mastiffs 5 days per week, for 30 minutes per day. I take one terrier puppy to a local dog park 3 days a week, for 60 minutes a day.

How do you find new clients?
I find new clients either by referral, or by using one of two websites: care.com or sittercity.com.

How much does it make each month?
I make $480 per month on this side gig.

Why’d you decide to start a dog walking/sitting service in the first place?
I decided to start a dog walking/sitting business because I love animals, and I saw that there was a need for this service (locally). I also thought it would be a good source of extra income.

How did you start doing your side business?
I started my side business by posting an ad on care.com and on sittercity.com. You can search for jobs in your immediate area.

Do you have a plan to try to turn it into your full time gig?
I do not plan on making this a full time gig.

What resources did you rely on in starting the business?
There really aren’t any resources to rely on, except for references (which I had from past/occasional dog walking gigs).

Any funny or otherwise entertaining stories from dog walking/sitting?
No funny stories really, but I do get a kick out of taking the dogs to a dog park. It really makes them happy, and it makes me laugh – because they wrestle, run around, etc.

Do you have any advice for people looking to start something on the side?
Advice: Be persistent. You may be turned down by potential clients, and you may not know why. Don’t focus on that – just keep applying to other jobs until you are successful.

Advice: Treat clients animals as you would your own. Treat the cleint’s homes and belongings as if they were your own. Always be honest and up front with clients. Always report any concerns about the animals (or their environment) to the clients.

I hope you enjoyed our chat with Teresa and learned a little about dog walking as a side gig, as always, if you know someone who would make for a good profile/interview for Side Gig Thursdays, please let me know!


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[4] side gig: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/tag/side-gig-thursdays

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