Our next Client Spotlight is highlighting Natassia Eaton and her team at Mickey & Friends Dog Walks and Playdates LLC! Located in Fairfax, VA --- Natassia services customers in the VA/DC/MD metro area. Mickey & Friends prides themselves on providing the best customer service, value, quality and availability which is evident based on their countless 5-Star Reviews! Check out Mickey & Friends' website and be sure to Like them on Facebook as well!

What caused you to get into pet sitting/dog walking?

I decided to leave my dreadful office job to be at home for my dog, Mickey the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and my husband who I never saw due to our conflicting work schedules. Moving to bustling Northern Virginia from a small town in North Carolina was an adjustment that was made easier by my pup, who allowed me to meet all of my neighbors with dogs. I've always been a dog lover and while I was applying for new jobs I decided to start dog boarding in my apartment and dog walking to keep busy back in January of 2016. It turns out I'm in the perfect location for this and was able to go full-time right from the start due to all of the connections my dog helped me make.

What is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting/dog walking business?

I never knew this dream job actually had the potential to pay the bills and even exceed my previous salary (especially living in expensive Fairfax County) and I never in a million years envisioned I would own my own legitimate business and be doing what I love at 25. There are so many fulfilling parts of this job, the number one being working with dogs every single day, of course! But also being in the DC metro area I know many people dread their commutes into work, and I am fortunate to have enough business to keep me very busy working within just a one mile walking service radius. It makes me so happy to know I'm providing a much-needed and appreciated service for these hard-working, busy people, and I'm able to provide personal care, exercise and socialization outlets for so many adorable and lovable dogs on a daily basis.

What is the most challenging?

This job isn't as easy as people may think. Physically it is pretty taxing when you're out walking for several hours straight, especially in extreme weather conditions which is not uncommon in DC. Emotionally it is difficult losing a client when they pass away, move or you part ways for other reasons. I get very attached to each of my clients and all of their unique personalities make each one irreplaceable and unforgettable. Finally the biggest challenge would be how mentally exhausting it can be especially when you pride yourself on being available to your clients nearly every hour of the day. Working from home, means I'm pretty much always on call and receive last-minute requests all the time due to my flexibility and being located nearby to all of my clients. I really don't mind most of the time, but it's not uncommon in this business to go several weeks to months without a single day off because I'm either taking care of another dog besides my own or meeting new clients. On top of that with how accessible my business is via technology, there almost isn't a single day that goes by that I'm not scheduling, invoicing, communicating with clients, and updating my website and social media profiles unless I'm away on vacation. I'm still learning to set aside some personal time for myself and my family by delegating more walking clients and appointments to my contractor.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

I would love to hire a few more walkers whom I can trust and will provide the same level of service and commitment as myself and my current contractor. There's such a huge need for pet care providers in this area, that even though there are a lot of competitors, I feel the general dog walking community is friendly and respectful of each other's coverage area and it's nice to know a few personally to have as backups since I can only do so much currently. Maybe in 5 years I will be financially ready to expand into having a small doggy daycare facility since that service has been requested a lot recently by new clients. Currently, I'm only able to host up to 3 small guest dogs at a time, so I unfortunately have to refer a lot of potential clients to my competitors nearby.

What has TTP changed the most about how you run your business?

The best thing about Time to Pet is how affordable it is! I'm saving so much money by only paying $15 per month instead of 15% of every single booking, which is what I was paying during my first 10 months of business under a big online and national pet care service provider. I love how customizable the technology is to fit my needs and my client's needs. We all love the new report card feature and how the developers continue to update the program and make it even more user-friendly for the staff and the clients. I would recommend Time to Pet to any pet care company.