When I decided to go freelance and work from home a few months back, as I've mentioned before, I signed up to become a dog-sitter on DogBuddy.
I created a profile, thought we'd probably end up with one dog for a weekend in a few months' time and didn't give my listing any further support or thought.
After a couple of days, we had our first booking. Three months later, we're dozens of dogs in and have very few days over the spring where we're not watching a dog or two. I'm writing this with a five year old whippet called Max sleeping soundly next to me on the sofa. His breathing is soft and quiet. He's making little snuffling noises.
I have a horrible feeling he might have peed on my staircase just a few moments ago.
I spent the morning of Valentine's Day 2016 walking around my local park with a friend and her dog and we both talked about how brilliant it would be to dog-sit full time... and how amazing it would be to have partners that were up before 11am with breakfast ready and waiting on Valentine's Day, but alas we trudged through the mud together, picked up after our dogs and contemplated the infinite glamour of our lives.
Whilst PR and writing are still both very much my main game, it's incredible now to have the freedom to take on new clients of the four-legged variety. What started as a brief idea for a bit of canine company whilst I work from home is gradually becoming a part time job with a solid client base.
Before I went freelance, Sherlock spent every single day at dog care, from 7am to 7pm. The lady who looked after him was an angel and one of the kindest, most reliable and dog-adoring women I've ever met, and when we picked him up after his last full day, we bombarded her with gifts before leaving as quickly as we could before the sadness hit. Because the trust you instil in someone to watch a child is no small thing, and in a dog-owner's eyes, leaving your pet behind is no different. Sherlock still stays with her when we leave town, and charges straight into her house without looking back at his hapless owners who spend hours declaring their unwavering love for him, massaging his neck and buying special doggy cookies for him. Little traitor.
It's my goal to be that person for my dog-owning clients (reliable, warm, a pillar of trust etc... not expressing my adoration, massaging their necks and buying them special doggy cookies. Though in PR sometimes you have to go to similar lengths to show the love for your clients. I jest, of course.), to give them the peace of mind that their dogs get all the love and home comforts that they would in their own house.
There are of course down sides of having strange dogs in your home on the regular. The barking, the occasional accidents on cream carpets and four strong dogs pulling you along on a lead, but all that stuff is par for the course when you're a dog person. You don't mind if three Golden Retriever puppies come hurtling in with a plant pot from outside and scatter soil across the living room floor. You don't mind diligently serving up six different breakfasts or your favourite skinny jeans being coated in a thin layer of white fur.
You don't mind, because the feeling of a shy, restless dog settling down and leaning into your legs for a sleep is magical. Gaining the trust of a homesick rescue dog, seeing two dogs who have never met before curled up asleep together and the morning joy of seeing a bunch of wriggling bodies shimmying with delight that you're there and that it's a brand new day are all small moments of utter satisfaction.
I've adored dogs since I was a baby. My first word was the name of my grandparents' dog and I spent my teens tearing around with Collies at dog shows... home doesn't feel quite right without a dog pottering around and so from now on I'll be blogging about our dog-sitting adventures as well as the pregnancy entries.
Once the Norfolk Terrier stops running off with my laptop charger.