"Seven years of working in the travel and hospitality industry have strongly shaped my work philosophy. It created a passion for customer service!" Petra Mann, owner of Flying Dog Pet Care
3 images above, from top: Grady, Ginger, and a few of my 22 fish in their underwater garden
My History With Animals
By the time I could walk the gravitational pull I felt toward animals had become evident. I would always be found wherever the critters were. Fortunately for me, my nanny family, with whom I spent the majority of my time, always owned a dog. Jessica, Sam, and Chico, wonderful big black dogs (two of them were Newfoundlands) were built-in nanny assistants and may well have imprinted me with a life-long love for animals.
Then there were my relatives' farms. Vacation time could never come soon enough. It meant helping out on the farms, which was my idea of paradise. Horses, cattle, goats, ducks, geese, chickens, rabbits, cats, and dogs everyday and all day long! At eight years old I voluntarily tackled the “toughest” jobs, such as grooming the calves and taking them for walks (yep, that's right) as I felt that an entire day in the shed was completely unfit for them. Turning semi-feral felines into purring lap kittens, nursing the sick ones back to health when they were plagued by a cold and needed their eyes cleansed several times a day, and making sure that the runt of the litter got his fair share of milk would take first priority on my daily to-do list. But also bringing in the hay-bales, harvesting crops, feeding time, and cleaning the sheds never felt like work but was my understanding of having a great time as I was doing what I loved most – care for animals. Much of my time that I didn't get to spend in the company of animals I would study textbooks about animal behavior, anatomy, breeds, species, history and evolution, natural habitats of wild animals, etc. In retrospect, it seems somewhat surprising that I didn't turn out a biologist.
However, I did found my own little animal kingdom as soon as the opportunity arose. I adopted two kittens and two puppies, and tended a
55 gallon tropical freshwater fish tank with a variety of live plants. Cats Ginger and Grady were as cool as a cucumber, always down for a belly rub or a man-powered ride in a laundry basket (the faster the better!), while Jaeger and Truman pretty much took center stage, being an exceedingly energetic and assertive herding and hunting breed (Catahoula Leopard Dog X) with a strong demand for mental stimulation. Watching them brim with enthusiasm when they were challenged with working tasks was pure joy to me! To provide them with the best care that I could, I decided to complete a 4 month dog trainer program and earn the Canine Good Citizen certificate with both dogs - a wonderful experience that further strengthened our bond. I was heartbroken when, after 7 years, I needed to part with my beloved animal family because of the unforeseen need to move back to Europe. 5 years later, my heart still skips a beat whenever I spot a Catahoula
How I came to Petsitting
Seven years of working in the travel and hospitality industry have strongly shaped my work philosophy. It created a passion for customer service! This passion combined with a string of life-changing events at last radically altered my perception about my computer-bound work in Graphic Design. In a nutshell, I began to crave working more closely with people - and animals. Petsitting was the natural choice. What had sprouted as a part-time job during my studies turned out to be much more than a wonderful offset
to my time spent in front of a screen and over books. I find it greatly rewarding to know that I'm making a contribution to people's life quality by doing what I love. I personally cannot imagine life without animals and wish for everyone to experience the unique and priceless enrichment an animal can bring to one's life. Doing my part to enable people to share their life with a pet despite a busy work schedule and/or frequent travel and without being plagued by feelings of guilt about their pet's well-being, is one major driving factor that made me decide to build upon my modest beginnings as a pet sitter. And then there is the sincere joy I experience throughout my interactions with the animals in my care.
My Specific Expertise and Qualifications
A four month long dog trainer certification program with Denver Dog Works (completed in 2007) provided me with extensive opportunities to work with a great diversity of breeds and temperaments. This allowed me to further hone my ability to creatively individualize basic obedience training in accordance with each dog's specific needs. Training methods were based on positive reinforcement and negative punishment, which means wanted behaviors are rewarded and rewards will be removed in response to unwanted behavior. For instance, the dog will receive verbal praise and a treat for coming when called but not receive attention for jumping up.
I also learned to perform canine first aid and proper administration of medication, including injections, during the certification program.
My many years of animal companionship and study of animal behavior, in both theory and practice, have shaped and fine-tuned my sensibility for animal body language as well as as breed and species specific needs and, of course, the often vast personality differences. This is not only relevant when bonding with an animal and/or training it, but is crucial in the ability to predict potential hazards, and recognize abnormalities, which might indicate a health problem. My experience allows me to respond quickly and appropriately, to help ensure your pet's safety.
Through my working experience on small family run farms I learned to expertly and lovingly care not only for pets but also for livestock (who have become pets too!), with careful attention to detail.
Training fun: Jaeger gives me a high five, while Truman is (impatiently) waiting for his release signal.