Remember Rose, the attorney from the hit movie, In Her Shoes? She ditched an unhappy job for a happy one working with dogs. This heartwarming film inspired me, and probably millions of other dog lovers, to think about a career working with animals. After all, aside from the obvious benefits, the pet industry is a booming field, one estimated to generate $58 billion in 2014. More than half of the households in the U.S.A. share their home with a dog. So how do you tap into these pawsome opportunities? Would caring for your best friend be your best job?
To get the inside scoop on what it takes to work with dogs, I turned to the award-winning expert, Camilla Gray-Nelson, widely known in the animal world as the "Dog Talk Diva." With 10,000+ hours spent training dogs since 1989 and over 50 years experience with animals, she is the author of the bestseller, "Lipstick and the Leash," and the founder of Dairydell, northern California's favorite doggy dude ranch and training center. On a historic dairy farm in Sonoma County, Camilla and her husband, Kurt Nelson, transformed their working ranch into a haven complete with a fresh water swimming pool, sheep to herd, modern boarding and training facilities. The cows may still be there, but now canines rule.
My first question to the Dog Talk Diva:
Sarah: What kind of background do you need to work at Dairydell? What if someone has never officially worked with dogs before?
DogTalkDiva: "We hire Personality first, and Experience second. Our company culture revolves around positivity. EVERY one of our hires must show superior positive attitude and work ethic, however. Without that (friendly personality, team player, positive and cooperative, hard worker when no one's looking), it would not matter HOW much dog experience or how much customer service expertise they had."
She shared an example with me; a real job listing for a Front Office Position at Dairydell.
Sarah: Is there anything you would love to see on a resume? Some quality that would trigger an instant HIRE?
Exciting company in Petaluma is seeking an experienced, smiling Customer Service professional to welcome clients in our front office on weekends as well as part-time during the week.
Average 15 - 25 hrs/week.
Dairydell Canine is Petaluma's premier Dog Boarding and Training facility. We pride ourselves on "treating every client as a friend and every dog as our own" and seek to hire only individuals that mirror that dedication. We are proud to offer dogs the finest in boarding and training, fresh country air, room to run and lots to do, see and learn.
This is a position for the fun of working. It is part-time with no benefits other than being with a great team and the satisfaction of giving dog owners unparalleled service and peace of mind.
Applicant must be DETAIL-ORIENTED. They must LOVE PEOPLE and enjoy helping them, by providing excellent customer service. They must be comfortable around all breeds and sizes of dogs, take pride in their work, be flexible and able to keep a smile on their face regardless of circumstances.
DogTalkDiva: For kennel positions, I like to see dog or horse experience. Of course, being raised on a farm with animals would be a slam-dunk. I find the horse people really get the animal mind and understand that all animals are inherently dangerous while at the same time make unparalleled companions.
Sarah: What rates an instant turn-down?
DogTalkDiva: Sandy Sourpusses, Shy Sallys, Bitter Bettys, Pushy Pattys , Debbie Downers and Gossipy Gladyses need not apply.
Camilla Gray-Nelson and Kurt Nelson, Dairydell's innovative founders.
Jumping for joy!
Canines versus cows in the northern California countryside.
Not everybody is lucky enough to live near Petaluma, California. So let's look at some other creative ways to work with your best furry friends. And don't forget to check out AOL Jobs, which often features great jobs at popular companies like Petco.
Kimpton Hotels are famous for genuine, heartfelt care and comfort -- and that includes their VIP (Very Important Pets.) These boutique hotels are loaded with individuality and personality, especially when it comes to their Directors of Pet Relations:
Our Directors of Pet Relations welcome guests with an enthusiastic wag, make suggestions on local pet-friendly hot spots, and often host the complimentary evening wine hour. Despite their need for scratching behind the ears and a tendency to drool, these star employees work hard to make sure that each guest feels extra loved.
If you have a passion for the hospitality industry and a love for dogs, working at a Kimpton Hotel as a Concierge or Front Desk Manager might be a great career for you.
This well-researched travel site is a bone-nanza of information including lists and reviews of dog-friendly hotels and travel services around the country. Search to see what's in your neighborhood.
"What better way is there to make money than watching adorable pups in your own home? DogVacay hosts from across the US and Canada have told us hosting pups has helped them spend more time with their families, enjoy a more fulfilling retirement and even save up to travel. Hosting on DogVacay really is a low stress way to do what you love." This hot Los Angeles based startup is known as the "Airbnb for Dogs."
Monica Michelle is a legend in the San Francisco Bay area, thanks to her patience and creativity with two of the toughest subjects to photograph: babies and dogs! Monica is so talented, she's always booked months in advance. Although she already has a Pug Mascot/Assistant, other pet photographers might need your help. Bring your passion for photography plus your calming way with creatures.
Are you a good writer? Do you have proofreading or editing skills? One of the hottest topics for self-publishing just happens to be dogs. There are experienced pet authors who have "gone indie" and been successful on Kindle and other ebook platforms. Dog lovers who want the story of their pup in print often use Blurb. Check out freelancer sites like elance.com and see who's searching for writing and publishing skills.
Here's a sample of a job post on elance.com last year: Article Writer for Dog Blog
* Excellent English Writing Skills
* A Love and Knowledge of dogs
* A Love and Knowledge on dog training and obedience
* Write in an entertaining and relaxed manner to engage the reading audience.
We're looking for an Article Writer to generate high-quality written content for our business.
Article Writing, Content Writing, English, English Spelling, Blogging
Article and Content Required for 20 articles for Dog Training Site. First and foremost we are looking for someone that is passionate about dogs and dog training and THEN a writer.
Five Top Resources
One of the smartest ways to pursue a dog-related career is to immerse yourself in the industry. Join an organization for canine professionals; take courses and gain certifications; attend conferences; participate in social media. Woof-of-Mouth is still the Number One method for hearing about new jobs. Here are some Top Resources:
The International Association of Canine Professionals Founded in 1999, the IACP was established to develop and promote the highest standards of professional and business practice among canine professionals. The IACP has grown to include professionals from all over the globe--encompassing every facet of the dog world. Note: Search for professionals in your area. Do they have a job for you?
The AKC (The American Kennel Club) Founded in 1884, the American Kennel Club has long been the nation's leading not-for-profit organization devoted to the study, breeding, exhibiting, and advancement of purebred dogs. A major force on the international dog scene, the AKC operates the world's largest purebred-dog registry, affiliated with U.S. dog clubs, and approves and regulates dog events annually. Check out the AKC Employment page, and sign up for their Woofipedia app.
"We help dog professionals succeed. Ready to take your dog training, dog walking, pet sitting, dog daycare, or dog boarding business to the next level? Need help starting a new dog-related business?" Check out Dogtec.org.
National Association of Professional Pet Sitters NAPPS is the ultimate source for pet sitters who want to take their business to new levels and for pet parents looking for trustworthy care for their pets when they are away from home. NAPPS IS the only non-profit national organization for pet sitters. We are member-run and member-driven, responding and adapting to your needs.
Therapy Dogs International Therapy Dogs International (TDI®), founded in 1976, is a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating, testing and registration of therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers for the purpose of visiting nursing homes, hospitals, other institutions and wherever else therapy dogs are needed. While this organization is volunteer, working with this group may provide significant experience which could ultimately lead to a satisfying career.
Bonus: Don't forget Pinterest and Instagram for connecting with other dog professionals and fellow furry fans. Check out our Pinterest dog love TrendistSF.