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Love dogs? Here's how to turn that passion into a successful side gig

(BPT) - Most people would like to follow their life’s passions when exploring ways to supplement their incomes, but it can be hard to find those meaningful outlets — and earn any income at the same time. For one dog lover in Stratford, Connecticut, her tremendous love and affection for the dogs in her life led her to a side job she hadn’t anticipated.

Five years ago, Monica Kolbusz was coping with the anxiety, distress and considerable expense of caring for her beloved Pomeranian, Sheila. Her dog was battling lung cancer, Lyme disease and a tumor on her paw. They were in and out of the vet's office for countless appointments, surgeries, a special prescription diet and medication. While the vet bills piled up and she continued to spend more time and energy providing the love and attention her aging furry family member needed, her friend came up with a great suggestion. She said that maybe Kolbusz could use her years of experience caring for dogs to become a dog sitter, to earn some cash to help pay for Sheila’s mounting medical expenses.

Kolbusz decided it was a great idea to use her love for and experience with special needs dogs to work part-time, on her own schedule. She signed up to become a dog sitter on Rover.com, a network of over 300,000 dog walkers and sitters across 32,000 U.S. cities for both dogs and cats. Before long, she became sought after by clients for her ability to care for dogs who needed special attention, including senior dogs, dogs with medical needs and even puppies — because they demand a lot from their humans, including plenty of attention and exercise. Some clients needed help with boarding pets while they were away on vacation, while others wanted someone to come into their home to provide daily walks, short visits for feeding and attention, or hours of care per day. For busy people who can’t always give their furry companions as much attention as they would like, Rover is a trusted solution that helps match pet parents with experienced and dedicated walkers or sitters in their area. And for Kolbusz, it meant setting her own flexible schedule as well as her own rates. The extra income Kolbusz receives by providing services on Rover allows her to financially be able to adopt rescue dogs that have medical needs or require a special diet without having the stress of not being able to care for them.

Before long, Kolbusz realized that being a dog sitter was very satisfying, since she was able to use her genuine love for dogs in a way that really helped their human families. She began to expand her home-based work to include volunteering at a rescue agency, so she could foster dogs along with her own canine companions and the Rover clients’ dogs that she was caring for — which provided a bonus she didn't expect.

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Caring for clients' dogs in her home, along with her current rescued Pomeranians named Jimmy Choo and Misiu, also helped to socialize the rescue dogs she was fostering. Having the experience of being around other dogs as they were receiving expert care and attention from Kolbusz helped the entire household learn how to get along well. This work continues to build her own confidence in the skill, talent and passion she has for helping senior and special needs dogs to thrive. One of the unexpected benefits she found through her work as a dog sitter was rescuing dogs, like her current Pomeranian, which is something she plans to continue to do as she gets future furry family members.

Sitters on Rover include a wide range of individuals who love dogs and cats, ranging from college students and stay-at-home parents to retirees and more. Many, like Kolbusz, specialize in a particular area or type of care clients may need for their pets.

If you want to explore a part-time opportunity where you can share your love of animals, check out Rover.com/become-a-sitter/.

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