This is Day 2 of our 15-part Professional Pet Sitter Series.
On the surface, it may appear that our profession has us only forming strong bonds with the precious pets in our care.
While this is certainly a fact, many in our industry develop strong and meaningful friendships with the human client, too.
This is the case with today’s spotlight on Anthony Mucci, of Daily Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Fair Warning: Have a box of tissues close by for this one.
The Personal Side of Pet Sitting
When I started my pet sitting business back in 2008, it was all about the pets. I never gave much thought to the wonderful cast of characters that I would meet along my journey.
I have had the pleasure of meeting an author, a New York play and screen writer, a professional opera singer, an actress, professional athletes, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs along with many fascinating people from around the world.
Many stand out in my mind but this story is about a particular English woman named Genevieve.
My pet sitting business was pretty new and I had recently acquired a client in an old part of town known as Sailboat Bend. The dog was Benjie and he was a wiry Jack Russell terrier. He was somewhat unstable and spent more time jumping rather than walking.
Upon returning from my walk with Benjie, I found a note on the windshield of my car. I could tell it was written by and elderly person. The note read
“Dear Sir if you have a moment would you kindly stop by my residence. There is a matter that I would like to discuss with you.”
It was signed ‘Genevieve’ and her address was written at the bottom.
My first thought was “some old bird is going to yell at me because Benjie pooped on her lawn.” I hesitated for a moment and then walked down to her house.
She lived in a quaint light blue cottage with gingerbread trim around the front peak. I unlatched the gate and knocked on the front door.
After what seemed like an eternity the door opened about 2 inches. “Oh you came. I wasn’t sure you would” she said to me in a surprised tone.
She opened the door the rest of the way and introduced herself as Genevieve. She invited me in and offered me a seat. She was dressed as if she were going out for the day. Later I found out that this was her normal daily attire.
I glanced around and it felt like I had stepped back in time. The cottage was furnished in a Victorian motif. Everything was old but in impeccable condition. It was June and the cottage was very hot. There was an oscillating fan on a table and every now and then I would catch a bit of the breeze.
Genevieve started to speak and for the first time I noticed that she had a British accent.
She cleared her throat “I have been watching you walking that scoundrel of a dog from down the way and I wanted to inquire if you are for hire?”
“Yes, of course” I replied “do you have a dog?”
Genevieve smiled warmly “yes, his name is Harry. I named him after Prince Harry. I will fetch him but beware he can be a bit of a bugger around gents.”
She excused herself and came back carrying the cutest little Westie. Harry was adorable and warmed up to me immediately.
Genevieve went on to tell me that her legs could no longer take her past the house next door and that Harry needed a proper walk. Since she was on a “widow’s pension” her finances only allowed for 2 days per week. She thought Tuesday and Friday morning would be best.
Weeks turned into years and our friendship grew.
Genevieve insisted that I call her Jenny. That is what the people she fancied called her. She called me Antony (no h).
Jenny shared stories of her husband, how they met, their life together and his slow painful death from “that bugging cancer.” They had one daughter who sadly passed on as well.
Jenny didn’t have a computer or television; she could not afford cable and never turned on the air conditioner. Her connection to the outside world was a little radio that sat on the end table next to the oscillating fan.
She would often ask “Antony what is going on in the world that would be of interest to me?”
I looked forward to Tuesday’s and Friday’s just as much as Jenny & Harry. She wanted Harry walked in the morning before it got too hot. I would usually stay and extra 10 or 15 minutes to visit with Jenny.
Every Christmas Jenny would give me a card with a crisp $5.00 bill inside and a note thanking me for caring for Harry.
Sadly this past summer Harry’s heath surpassed Jenny’s and it was time for him to cross over the rainbow bridge. Jenny asked if I would accompany her to the veterinarian’s office.
We drove in silence. Jenny held Harry on her lap gently petting his head.
We went into the room together. Jenny placed Harry’s little stuffed teddy bear between his front legs. She stayed for the first sedation shot but she did not have it in her to stay until the end. She didn’t want death to be her last memory of her precious boy.
I stayed with Harry until the end. He passed peacefully.
Jenny phoned me in early December and invited me over for high tea. When I arrived Jenny suggested we sit in the parlor. She had pulled out her best china tea cups and had a plate of biscuits on the coffee table. We drank tea and reminisced about Harry.
As I was leaving Jenny handed me a card. I didn’t open it until I got home. Enclosed were a crisp $5.00 bill and a heartfelt note thanking me for taking care of Harry.
She went on to thank me for being a kind soul and befriending an old lady.
Truth be told, the pleasure was all mine.
Over To You
Read More: Click 15 Professional Pet Sitters and Their Stories for all the featured pet professionals in our series.
I was in tears the first time I read this story, and am still choked up reading it again.
What I love most about Anthony’s story is how it shows we are not merely a hired hand to pour food in a bowl and let the dog out.
The impact of hiring a professional reaches much farther.
Imagine how Genevieve’s days would have been different had she just had a friend or relative pop over to walk Harry.
The professional pet sitter is an extraordinary person, full of complete love and care for all creatures.
Tell us, which human client has had a profound impact on you, your life, or your business? Who do you have a strong connection with? Was the friendship a complete surprise? What have you learned and taken from this relationship in your world?