The Dog Walking Sisters of Bristol

Author picture Ralf

In our second installment of Pawshake sitter stories, we get to meet Rebecca, one of our top sitters in Bristol. Locally known as The Dog Walking Sisters she and her family have dedicated themselves to making dogs and their owners happy. Read her story and get some really great tips on what makes for a successful meet-n-greet and the fine art of learning to say “No”.

How did you find Pawshake and why did you decide to register as a pet sitter?

After I finished uni I didn't want to pursue work in my study subject. I met somebody who did dog sitting for a living. I Googled “Dog Sitters UK” and Pawshake popped right up. I also signed up with several other dog sitting sites but receive most of my clients from you.

Do you have pets of your own? If so, how are they behaving around other pets you care for?

I have three dogs: a Collie, a Chihuahua who both seem to enjoy the company of my guest dogs and an elderly Shih Tzu who couldn't be bothered.

What is special about the city of Bristol? What do you like most about being a pet sitter there?

Bristol is very pet friendly. It seems that every second or third house has a dog or cat. I really like being outside a lot so becoming a sitter was perfect.

© Rebecca Shipley

The Dog Walking Sisters

You have so far completed an impressive 160 bookings, several with pet owners that have booked you multiple times. Why do you think pet owners choose you again?

Sometimes my mom and my sister help with the pet sitting and we have become known as the crazy dog family. The owners really seem to like our family business approach to pet sitting and my sister and I have been called by the locals as the Dog Walking Sisters. Talking about it right now I actually realize I quite like it and might use it as my profile name [Laughs].

If you were to describe the job as a Pawshake sitter in 3 words, which words would you choose?

Fun, rewarding, outdoors

How do you think pet owners feel about hiring a pet sitter on the Internet? Are they cautious, enthusiastic, etc.?

Most people I’ll meet have become more comfortable with booking a pet sitter over the Internet. Two years ago people were more bewildered.

My best practices

What do you tell your clients during the meet and greet and what do you look for when "interviewing" them?

I'm pretty strict in my vetting and only take neutered pets. Dogs need to be friendly with people and other dogs, and good off lead. I also ask about any medicinal or dietary requirements. I always ask for emergency contact numbers. I don't accept dogs that need to sleep in the bed because it would make my own dog's jealous. Plus there would be no room left for me in my own bed [Laughs].

What are your best tips for new pet sitters who wanted to be as successful as you?

Vet the client thoroughly. Make sure you suit each other and that it's a really good fit. Don't accept a pet just so you get a booking but only if it is really a successful match. Always have good communications with the pet owner and send regular updates, photos, and videos. Don’t be afraid to say no to a potential client if it just doesn't feel right. Saying no is a very sensitive issue and you have to make sure that you don't make them feel like you were judging them or their pet. I recommend practicing with your friends on how to say No without it sounding judgmental.

© Rebecca Shipley

Do you have a heartwarming or funny story that came out of your many bookings?

My very first Pawshake clients became really close family friends. We watched their family grow from having only one dog to getting a second puppy and then finally their first child. I really like the aspect of becoming part of people's lives by being a pet sitter.

Do you have any feedback or comments for Pawshake? 

I'm very happy to be part of Pawshake and without you, I wouldn't be where I am today - one of the top 5 sitters in Bristol. 

Pet sitting and Coronavirus

We ask that all pet owner and sitters follow these simple preventative measures to keep yourself and your community safe:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Drink lots of fluids.
  • If you have concerns about your health or any symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects or surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

The Pawshake team is staying current on all news about the virus and we continue to operate as usual. We recommend and get our own updates from these authoritative sources The UK Kennel Club, the National Health Service (NHS)UK Government Coronavirus page, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

If you have any questions about your reservation, about Pawshake or about Pawshake and the coronavirus, our customer service is there for you.