Columbus, Ohio USA
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Doggie Business is all about friendship
By W. David Hall
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Lisa Mallett (Left) and Sylvia Burch pose with
two happy clients in Goodale Park.
Even the most dedicated pet owner may not have enough time to walk her dog during lunch or he may get called out of town suddenly, thus leaving the cat to fend for itself overnight.
If you find yourself in these situations, don't despair. Lisa Mallett and Sylvia Burch, co-owners of Doggie Business, an insured, professional dog walking and pet sitting service, are two animal-lovers in town willing to work with your pet in your neighborhood, providing both company and recreation at a very reasonable cost.
Doggie Business focuses on pet care through walking and pet sitting. Walks can be schedule for 30 minutes or an hour and take place in areas familiar to the dog. Each walk is designed to give the dog exercise, social time with other people and dogs, and training on how to be street smart. For convenience, Lisa and Sylvia will go to the client's residence and walk the dog in the client's neighborhood.
"We focus on a safe and pleasurable walk," said Sylvia. "We teach street safety such as sitting at corners before crossing and not chasing after everything that moves. We also carry first aid kits on every walk."
Pet sitting can include overnight stays. Lisa and Sylvia will feed the pet, provide social interaction, and take care of any other pet needs, such as medication. They will also care for the client's residence, doing such tasks as collecting mail, taking out trash, and watching the house.
These services are available to any dog of any age or breed, as well as other pets. "We have worked with a variety of dogs, including just about every breed considered dangerous, such as Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. We have helped get country dogs accustomed to city life. We have even worked with puppies as young as 13 to 15 weeks old. In general, we take care of their pets as soon as the client needs us," Lisa said.
Pets will be cared for in all types of weather, also. "Even in a light drizzle, we will take the dogs out. We'll just towel them off when we get back. In truly bad weather, we will at least make sure they get a chance to relieve themselves and then we will play and interact with the pet inside."
Rates for the dog walking service begin at $10 for one pet per half hour, with a added fee of $2 for each additional pet. An hour walk begins at $16, with an added fee of $4 for each additional pet. Pet sitting begins at $11, with an overnight stay costing $80. The initial consultation is free.
"We keep our rates affordable and reasonable so that we can attract clients of a wide economic range," Lisa said. "Because of this, we have been able to attract many young professionals just starting out."
Client comfort doesn't stop at the rates. Lisa and Sylvia do an extensive pet profile at the first meeting, asking owners about each pet's personality, obedience training, social interactions with children and other animals, and the like. This time also allows the pet and the owner to get to know Lisa and Sylvia as well.
"When people first call us about our services, many times they are nervous," Sylvia said. "They ask about rates, of course, and then about what we do. Rarely will they ask if we are insured, which is probably the first question people should be asking. The initial consultation is about the pet but also about teaching people about our services."
Once a pet becomes a client, Lisa and Sylvia work with the owner to make sure everything runs smoothly. "We stay within the neighborhood where the pet is familiar," said Lisa. "We also use the commands that the owners use to remain consistent."
For Doggie Business, Lisa and Sylvia go beyond just their years of personal experience with pets. They do extensive research on different breeds of dogs and their temperaments, work with certified master trainer Allison Armbrister of Bulls-eye Dog Training, and plan to take a course on pet CPR this fall. Every aspect of the business is done by Lisa and Sylvia, ranging from scheduling and paperwork to development of their Web site www.doggiebusiness.com. They are also members of the Pet Sitters Associates, LLC, a national organization that provides, among other things, a code of ethics and insurance for pet sitters, according to the website www.petsitllc.com. For Lisa and Sylvia, however, the focus is always on what is best for the animals.
"All of this is out of love and respect for the pets," said Lisa.
Lisa and Sylvia are life partners who met in January 2000. After going to college, both women wanted to combine their love for dogs with their desire to be self-employed. That led to the creation of Doggie Business. "Both of us love dogs, had them when we were younger, and, although we have three cats, we both missed having dogs in our lives. That was a big reason for Doggie Business," said Sylvia, 25, who graduated from OSU in 2001 with a sociology and women's studies double major.
In 2002, Lisa, 29, graduated from OSU with a BA in philosophy. She had dabbled in business before and chalks up her pioneering spirit to her parents. Her mother owned a day care center; her father was a self-employed carpenter.
"We both have worked office jobs," said Lisa, "where we stayed indoors all day and never saw sunlight. Now we are doing what we love, we meet new pets and new people, we are outside all the time, and we learn about many neighborhoods in Columbus."
Lisa and Sylvia are also excited to be a young business in Columbus at a time when Ohio is experiencing a "brain drain" of its college graduates, according to Lisa.
"We have been in Columbus for a long time and keeping our roots here is very important," Lisa said.
They are also very proud of the way they conduct business. The animal waste bags they use are 100% biodegradable, for example, and they walk, bike, or use public transportation to get to each clients' residence whenever possible. Plus, because most of the work is done on the street or at a client's residence, there is no need for office space, thus keeping the rates low.
"We are easygoing, friendly, and very conscientious about each pet we take care of," said Sylvia. As a business, she added, "we try to take a unique approach to dog walking and pet sitting."
For more information, contact Lisa and Sylvia by phoning (614) 218-1305, sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org or logging on to www.doggiebusiness.com.
©2005 Short North Gazette, Columbus, Ohio. All rights reserved.