Professional Pet Sitter Magazine_Winter 2015

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Dialing In Your Website to be Mobile-Device Friendly Which Optional Coverages Are Right For You? Tracking Key Business Metrics Reading Dogs’ Body Language

2016 Education & Networking Forum Highlights

Join us March 11-13, 2016 at the NAPPS Annual Conference in Orlando! Take a few minutes and review the preliminary schedule of events. Make the investment in yourself and attend. Friday, March 11, 2016 9 – 9:30 am President’s Message - Yvette Gonzales, As You Wish Pet Sitters 9:30 – 10:30 am Keynote Address 10:30 – 10:45 am Micro Session: How to Get Your Cat Clients to Be Your BFFs Speaker: Pat O’Shea, Kitten Sittin’ Pet Sitting Service 10:45 – 11:45 am Work Happy: Cultivating Happiness-Inducing Management and Customer Service Skills Speaker: Isabel Alvarez Arata, The Wag Pack: Dog Walking & Pet Sitting in NoVA 11:45 am – 12 pm Biennial State of the Professional Pet Sitting Industry Report -Sherry Suhosky 12 – 1 pm Networking Lunch with 2nd Chance 4 Pets Speaker: Amy Shever, 2nd Chance 4 Pets 1 – 2 pm A Guide to Onboarding or Transitioning Over to Employees Speaker: Jessica Dwyer, Whiskers At Home L.L.C. – Professional Cat Pet Sitting 2– 2:15 pm Micro Session: Insurance Q&A Speaker: David Pearsall, Business Insurers of the Carolinas 2:30 – 3:30 pm How to Be the Top Dog in a Crowded Market Speaker: Jamie Migdal, FetchFind 3:30 – 4:30 pm Trademarks, Domain Names and Other Intellectual Property Law Considerations Speakers: Terry Sanks, Beusse Wolter Sanks & Maire, P.A. and Kevin Wimberly, Beusse Wolter Sanks & Maire, P.A. Saturday, March 12, 2016 8:30 – 9:30 am Positive & Profitable: Your Business on Social Media Speaker: Michele Lawson 9:30 – 10:30 am Pets & Tech: Put The Power In Your Hands

Speaker: Victoria Elena Nones, SIT 10:30 – 11:30 am Marketing Strategies for Pet Sitters Speaker: Mike Linville, Black Dog Marketing 11:30 am – 12 pm Micro Session: Pet First Aid Speaker: Arden Moore, Pet First Aid 4U 12 – 1 pm Networking Lunch with Presentation: Pros Have Great Handling Skills and Make Good Equipment Decisions Speaker: Kelly Chludzinski, CATCH Canine Trainers Academy 1 – 2 pm Insurance for the Professional Pet Sitter Speaker: David Pearsall, Business Insurers of the Carolinas 2 – 2:15 pm Micro Session: Pet Parents 2:15 – 3:15 pm Hiring Panel Speakers: Terry Haas, Christina Keough and Becky O’Neil 3:15 – 4:15 pm 101 Thrifty but Tasteful Ways to Recognize Your Clients Speaker: Jonann Wild, Priority Pet Services 4:30 – 6 pm CATCH Canine Certificate Program (additional fee) Speaker: Kelly Chludzinski, CATCH Canine Trainers Academy Sunday, March 13, 2016 7– 8:30 am CATCH Canine Certificate Program (additional fee) Speaker: Kelly Chludzinski, CATCH Canine Trainers Academy 9 – 10 am Reduce the Poopy Pawprint – “Doo” the Right Thing Speaker: Jennifer Blaese, Loft 312 Inc. 10 – 11:30 am 4 SEO Essential Elements to an Effective Website Speaker: Josh Cary, PetSittingOlogy 11:30 am – 12:30 pm Putting Your Conference Experience to Action or Implement a Plan Speaker: Niki Tudge

INSIDE WINTER 2015 PROFESSIONAL PET SITTER COVER: Flying Duchess is the 2016 Business of the Year Photo by Shannon Echlin Photography

Media Mewsings............................................... 4 President’s Message......................................... 5


TIPS OF THE TRADE Mobile Device-Friendly Websites....................... 7 Cold Weather Tips............................................. 8 Labor Laws on Overnight Stays......................... 9



BUSINESS Understanding Business Metrics.................... 10 Optional Insurance Coverages........................ 12 Learning to Read D-O-G................................. 14



The mission of the Professional Pet Sitter is to provide tools for members to enhance their business, help them expand their knowledge of professional pet sitting, and communicate association news and events. Copyright 2015. The Professional Pet Sitter is published four times a year in March, June, September and December by NAPPS Headquarters: 1120 Rt. 73, Suite 200, Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054. Periodical mailing privilege pending at Mt. Laurel, NJ and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: send change of address to the Professional Pet Sitter c/o NAPPS Headquarters, 1120 Rt. 73, Suite 200, Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054. The Professional Pet Sitter is free to National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, Inc. members. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. Editorial offices: 1120 Rt. 73, Suite 200, Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054

FEATURES Business of the Year: Flying Duchess.............. 16 Popular Animal Phrases................................. 19 Sizing Up Cat Treats....................................... 20

CONNECT WITH NAPPS About Your Association................................... 22 NAPPS Chat Message Board.......................... 23 NAPPS Member Benefits............................... 25 NAPPS in the News........................................ 26

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National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, Inc. 1120 Rt. 73, Suite 200 Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054 Phone: (856) 439-0324 • Fax: (856) 439-0525 Email: •

Like us Follow us @TheNAPPS Join us @National Association of Professional Pet Sitters 3


Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015


By Arden Moore

Arden Moore, Executive Editor Cathe Delaney, Managing Editor

Like Dog, Like You

Making the Doggone Right Choices


uch has been spotlighted about how some people look like their dogs. But ohn madenow a bad in adecision. recent national The 16-year-old survey, here’s boy a new bought twist: some personalities marijuana between from an undercover person and dog cop. seem As atoresult, mesh John moreisthan living weat realized. the Illinois Youth Center The Natural (IYC) Chicago, Balance Canine a juvenile Personality detention facility Study,for conducted the next by sixNatural months.Balance John is not Pet aFoods hardened in conjunction criminal. withAnd LearndipityData maybe if he hadn’t Insights, been caught polledthis 1,015 early people in thewith game, dogs. heItmight turns still out that be on the Americans streets, perhaps love dogs now who stealing are often to buying just likelarger them. quantities Hereofare marijuana—maybe the key findings from eventhis cocaine study:or crack. 1. People choose dogs who act just But landing like them. in IYCAismajority perhapsofthe self-identified best thing that could have extroverts happened — 66 to John percent and— thereport other 12-17-year-olds having likeextroverted him. They’redogs. receiving And, there the is discipline, training, a 65 percent counseling, chanceeducation that introverts and programs they’ll will adopt need tointroverted reinvent themselves dogs. In once they’ve completed addition, theirif stay, you are viaaachoosy program called Lifetime Bonds. eater, your dog is three times Createdmore by Best likelyFriends to be aSafe picky Humane, eater this program targets as well. youth And, whoif have you identify been involved in illegal activities. yourselfEach as a week, lifelong a group learner, of dog handlers andthere theirisdogs a 72visit percent the teens. chance The teams yourteach dog will thebe young goodmen at the proper way to approach learning a dog, new a few tricks commands even into and a chance to socialize his senior withyears. the dog. By receiving the immediate 2. gratification Dogs displayofcomplex a happy wagging tail, friendly lick on emotions, the hand, just or like the roll-over we do. The request for a belly rub, survey theseconfirms youngsters whatbegin manyto realize— sometimes for of the us have first time suspected: in theirdogs lives—that kindness begets experience kindness. many Andemotions that setsthat the stage for profound are behavioral commonchange. in people. Let’s Best Friends say you’re Safehurt Humane or late National comingDirector Cynthia Bathurst home.believes About 90 Lifetime percentBonds of dogis an integral component parentsofbelieve the program their dogs in that are it aims to stopworried violenceabout in itsthem. tracksAnd, before 79 it has a chance to grow percent further. of people “Safereported Humane” that gives these young they men believe knowledge theirand dogs skills canthey can use to positive feeladvantage embarrassment, for the dogs whilethey 83 and their friends percent or familyare members certain that encounter they in the streets, especially have seen dogstheir viewed dogs assmile. ‘fighting dogs,’” she says. 3. Dogs strongly influence the emotions of their pet parents. Changing Beliefs Nearly 80Ispercent The First of people Step The young reported men that couldthey hardly believe waittheir for the bell to ring, signaling dogs consciously it’s time forand the actively Lifetime Bonds program, or, attempt as they call to comfort it, “Dog-Play them. And, Time.” The group breaks 55 percent into five indicated smallerthat groups their and begins each dogs session lookbyatlearning them withhow loving to approach a friendly dog. eyes One that bycommunicate one, the boysdeep, take turns holding out the caring backs emotion. of their Andhands finally,for52the dogs to sniff, thenpercent gently stated pettingthat thetheir dogsdogs on the side. Then the boysarehold abletreats to accurately in their sense hand while asking the dogs whentothey sit and are sad. lie down, then give the treats—and give and receive more love. After 20 Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015


On a personal note, I share my home — and heart — with a pair of senior active dogs named minutes, Chipper and the groups Cleo. Even switch though to new I qualified handlerstoand dogs. be an AARP member, I share my dogs’ youthful attitude All the andparticipants desire to explore are anxious new places. to spend What time do you with share Rou,inthe common pit bull.with Oneyour boy dog? commented on howToRou learn resembled more about his this American canineStaffordshire personality terrier. study, Itplease was surprising visit the Natural to hearBalance him referwebsite: to his dog with the official breed title. “That’s because we’ve Natural seen all Balance these different has also guys launched fight and a new we know ‘Natural whoCharacters’ the best ones website are,” he showcasing says. the unique Andpersonalities this offers the of dogs perfect andsegue cats to across talk about the U.S. dogfighting. Pet parents “Docan youupload think the theirdogs ownlike furry fighting?” charactersasks there, Triptow. too. nMost of the boys nod. “Do you think the dogs like being stroked?” All the

Please send all letters to the editor: Letters should include your name, address, and daytime telephone Letters may edited with Safe Humane, call number. 312-409-4790. Forebemore for length or clarity. Submissions may be mailed information on Best Friends, visit their Web site at or emailed as a word document. n

Professional Pet Sitter is published quarterly by the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS), a nonprofit organization, and is available through membership subscription. No portion of the magazine may be reprinted without the written consent of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. The letters and advertisements contained in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the association. NAPPS is not liable for validity or correctness of any claim, express or implied, made in advertisements or writings of this magazine.


...if you don’t like getting hurt and the dog doesn’t like getting hurt, do you really think the into a situation like fighting where they most certainly will get hurt?

NAPPS Headquarters 1120 Rt. 73, Suite 200 Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054 Phone: (856) 439-0324 Fax: (856) 439-0525 Email: Cathe Delaney Administrative Director Cocee Baker Administrative Assistant

boys nod. “Do you like the feeling of being hurt when someone hits you?” All the boys shake their head. “Do you think dogs like the feeling of being hurt, like when another dog bites them?” Tentative shakes all around. “So think about it—if you don’t like getting hurt and the dog doesn’t like getting hurt, do you really think the dogs like going into a situation like fighting where they most certainly will get hurt?” Definite head shakes all around. The teens have only participated in the Lifetime Bonds program for two months, but already, changes in thought, attitude and behavior are evident. Nikki Robinson, Assistant Superintendent/Programs IYC Chicago, observes the boys not only look forward to the sessions because they’re enjoyable, but that they really “get” why the program is important.

How You Can Help Best Friends Safe Humane relies on donations and in-kind services from local businesses and individuals. If you’d like to make a donation to the Safe Humane Lifetime Bonds program, send a check payable to: Safe Humane P.O. Box 7342 Chicago, IL 60680-7342. If you’d like to learn more about volunteer opportunities


Caitlin O’Brien Meeting and Exhibits Manager Caitlin McWilliams Public Relations Business Insurers of the Carolinas PO Box 2536, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2536 Phone: (800) 962-4611 ext. 224 For Dishonesty Bond and/or General Liability Insurance The National Group Insurance Exchange 3210 Doolittle Dr., Northbrook, IL 60062 Phone: (800) 955-0418 Fax: (847) 559-9499 Email: Contact: Alan Leafman For Dental and Health Insurance For pet sitting questions contact:


By Yvette Gonzales, President

It’s Time to Take Ownership Because It’s Your Association

How many of us truly understand this? I admit, when I first invested in my membership to NAPPS, I didn’t understand this but, as time went on I learned about everything NAPPS had to offer. First, there’s all the helpful forms, the affiliates that offer their discounted services to NAPPS members and all the information that’s absolutely packed on our website. Business Insurers of the Carolinas kept my business and clients safe. And NAPPS University Certification program took my knowledge to a new level. Both were credible marketing tools that my clients appreciated. Then there were the incredible education/mentorship tools that were just there for the taking: the Mentorship Teleconferences, the Education & Networking Forum and most importantly, the NAPPS Committees. Why committees? Because this is where we have the opportunity to form our Association. Through committee work, we come into contact with amazing business owners who have passion, integrity and vision. We share our ideas to make our Association better for each member who comes after us. Some may say, “Well, I’ve volunteered for other things in my life and no one appreciated me” or “It became overwhelming” or “It wasn’t a positive experience.” So, why would a NAPPS committee be any different? Because you can make a difference! Each of our committee chairs understand what it’s like to run a business and also be a volunteer. They value your time and your effort and want volunteerism to be a positive experience. Your opinions and ideas are of value to the Association. The Chairs hear your ideas and take them to the Board of Directors who are also business owners/volunteers just like you. The Board listens to your idea and votes to implement it or not based upon the resources the Association has. This very simple process should speak to you and say, “I can make a difference!” NAPPS is like no other association and during the recent Board of Director’s meeting in Denver, the Board voted to revise our Mission Statement to read: “The only National non-profit professional pet sitting association dedicated to setting the industry standard and championing the welfare of animals.” Our new Mission Statement should speak to each of you and remind you that you are involved with a non-profit and that this is your Association. Many of the items the Board voted on in September were ideas that originated from a committee level suggestion. Do you realize that from your input and participation, NAPPS looks for new partners and affiliates, it creates new programs and even new sub-committees? The Education and Networking Forum program is put together based upon feedback we receive from the membership. I do not know of any other professional association that dedicates this much effort into listening to its’ members. Effectively, when you chose to invest in a NAPPS membership, you chose to help shape the future of this association what a rewarding benefit and NAPPS values and celebrates those of you who have chosen to take ownership in your association. So I’m asking, who will you be in 2016? The active entrepreneur member who dedicates time and effort to making this Association your own or will you choose to be the absentee owner member who chooses to allow others to run their association and then doesn’t see the benefits that there for the taking? I urge you to choose Ownership in 2016! Kindest regards,

Yvette Gonzales Dedicated NAPPS Volunteer and President


Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015

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By Therese Kopiwoda

Dialing In Your Website to be Mobile-Device Friendly


opefully by now, you’ve heard that Google is including mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal in its search algorithm. Websites that are optimized for Smartphones, iPads, tablets and other mobile devices will generally rank higher in Google searches than websites that are not. This is definitely the case when it comes to searches done on mobile devices, and may also affect those done on desktop computers. Google made this change because so many of us are using our mobile devices more than our desktop computers. The idea is to make our mobile experience more meaningful by showing us websites that are easier to use. Here are some of the criteria Google uses to determine if a website is mobile-friendly: • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash. • Uses text that is readable without zooming. • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom. • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped.

Verifying Your Site is Mobile Friendly It’s important to note that even if you can see your website on a mobile device, that does not necessarily mean it is mobile-friendly. To find out if your website complies with the Google standards, use their free mobile-friendly test ( But, even if Google says your website is mobile-friendly. you may still have some work to do in order to make sure your visitors are getting what they need. In the past, we designed websites for desktop computers and could count on them showing up fairly the same on various browsers. With mobile devices, this isn’t always the case. If not done carefully, a mobile website can seem disjointed and downright confusing. When you’re designing (or redesigning) your website, it’s extremely important to pay attention to how your

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So how does your website stack up? Do the Google mobile friendly test and make sure they approve. Then go take a good look at your mobile website. Be sure people can readily see what you do, where you do it, and how to get in touch with you. content appears on mobile as well as desktop. Even when using something like a WordPress responsive theme, you need to ensure the right information shows up in the right places. A lot goes into making a website an effective lead-generating tool, but one of the first things that needs to happen is to catch your visitors’ attention. You only have a few seconds to do that, so it’s important to answer their main questions as soon as they land on your website. You don’t want to force them to scroll or go to a different page. There’s not a lot of room to work with in the small view people will see when they first get to your website though, so make the most of it! Be concise and confirm for them they found what they’re looking for. Let them know: • In a few words, what services you offer. • The geographical area where you offer those services. • How to contact you.

Make Your Site Easy To Navigate I see a lot of professional pet sitter websites that look great on desktop, but when viewed on mobile, the only way to see this crucial information is to scroll down the page or go to a different page. I can’t stress enough how important it is


to immediately show visitors this information, as a way to confirm they have found what they are looking for. If people have to hunt for it, there is a very real possibility they may move on to your competitor’s website that has it prominently displayed. So how does your website stack up? Do the Google mobile-friendly test and make sure they approve. Then go take a good look at your mobile website. Be sure people can readily see what you do, where you do it, and how to get in touch with you. You’ll make it easier for them and your phone just might start ringing more often! n Therese Kopiwoda has worked in online community/ social media since the early 1990s and calls on her experience to help other small business owners grow their online presence. She works primarily with owners of pet businesses as a WordPress web designer and social media consultant. She owned her own pet sitting business for 10 years, and is the founder and former owner of PetsitUSA, which she sold in 2012. Therese has been interviewed for several news articles, and has spoken at conferences, including SXSW and the former Cyber Sitters United. Contact her through her website, or find her on Twitter or Periscope with the username @kopiwoda.

Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015


By Joyce Rheal

Preparing You and Clients’ Pets for Wintery Conditions


lived in Alaska for two years and like you, know not all dogs are arctic breeds who can survive in that harsh winter condition. The dogs under my care in Alaska were required to have covering for their feet because their paws could freeze to the ice, which can cause damage. I knew sled dog owners who brought their sled dogs inside when it hit zero and below to keep them warm over the winter. They could tell how cold it was by the number of dogs piled on the bed for warmth with their people. I share this as a way to illustrate the importance of being prepared for winter conditions. Please encourage pet parents to bring their animals in during the winter, including their cats. If they can’t bring them in, encourage them to provide proper shelter that is out of the wind and bedding, even for their cats. Even though dogs are descendants of wild wolves, wolves have adapted to these bitter cold conditions, but our domestic dogs have adapted to living indoors with us. As pet professionals, please ensure your clients’ pets are well cared for and out of the winter conditions. If they provided outdoor shelter for pets, check the bedding to ensure it is dry and that the pets have plenty of it available to them. Also, ensure that the water is not frozen in their bowls and that the water is clean for them to drink. Last year, when I watered my chickens, I checked on them many times during the day, pouring hot water on top of the existing water to keep it from freezing. This year, I plan on getting an electric bowl to place their water in to keep it from freezing.

Provide Clean Water for Outdoor Animals When I lived in Colorado, I had a heated bird bath in the winter and it was fascinating to watch the variety of wild animals coming to drink heated fresh water. If your clients have put out water for feral cats and other animals, help keep that water from freezing. Speaking of water, I had a client who decided she wanted the heat completely off while she was on vacation for a few weeks. Yes, she left her little dog home. Each visit, I turned the heat back on because the little dog was shivering cold. Good thing I did because shortly after turning the heat back on, the temperatures dropped below zero a few days later. Her waterlines would have frozen. Take care for the dogs’ paws this winter. Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015

Some dogs won’t put up being fitted with dog boots on their feet. So, for these dogs, consider dabbing petroleum jelly on their feet to help protect the paws during walks. Remember to wipe off the petroleum jelly when you return from those walks. Do your best to protect the paws form getting cut by ice or the salt while out on a walk. Rinse the paws in warm water to remove ice pellets and other ice melting products. Never use hot water as you can accidentally send the body into shock.

Major Winter Threat to Pets: Hypothermia Pets have fur coats, but they can suffer from the extremes of winter and develop hypothermia. According to PetMD, “Hypothermia is a medical condition that is characterized by an abnormally low body temperature. It has three phases: mild, moderate, and severe. Mild hypothermia is classified as a body temperature of 90 - 99°F (or 32 - 35°C), moderate hypothermia at 82 - 90°F (28 - 32°C), and severe hypothermia is any temperature less than 82°F (28°C). Hypothermia occurs when an animal’s body is no longer able to maintain normal temperature, causing a depression of the central nervous system (CNS). It may also affect heart and blood flow (cardiovascular), breathing (respiratory), and the immune system. An irregular heartbeat, trouble breathing, and impaired consciousness to the point of coma may result.” Early signs of hypothermia: strong shivering, pale skin color and lethargy. The causes of hyperthermia are long time exposure to the cold, wet fur and skin, submersion in cold water for, and shock. And remember: pets can suffer from frostbite. The first places that frostbite appears are on the tip of the tail, ears, scrotum and footpads. Pets suffering from frostbite who are not treated by a veterinarian promptly can go into a coma and even die.

Keep Current On Pet First Aid Training Hopefully as a professional pet sitter, you have completed a pet first aid course that trains you what to do in extreme weather conditions to protect pets under your care. Remember to usher the affected


pet immediately into a warm room and wrap them in a warm blanket. If you don’t have access to a warm blanket, wrap a hot water bottle in a towel and place against the pet’s abdomen. Do not place the hot water bottle directly on the pet because you risk burning his skin. If the pet is conscious, give them warm fluids to drink. Check his body temperature every 10 minutes to be sure he is warming up. Once his body temperature is above 100 degrees, remove the water bottle to avoid overheating. Most importantly, get this pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible for professional medical treatment. To prevent hypothermia, avoid walking on what appears to be frozen lakes, because they may not be completely frozen and you and the pet may slip into the icy water. Also, avoid the pet under your care to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. Young puppies, senior dogs and those with low body fat percentages, recovering from anesthesia and certain medical conditions are most vulnerable to being exposed to cold temperatures. Winter can be a wonderful season to be out in about walking dogs and taking care of pets, if precautions are taken to protect the pets while outdoors. Don’t forget to properly dress yourself for winter. Wear layers and keep your feet, head, throat, and hands protected. If you walk dogs at night, remember to sport coats with reflective strips so drivers can more easily see you. And, if possible, attach the dog to a leash also with reflective tape. For those of you with pet sitting companies in warm climates, don’t forget to wear sunglasses and continue to use sunscreen. Have a wonderful winter, everyone! n Joyce Rheal is based in Southern Illinois and is a nationally certified pet care consultant, trainer, and the author of Preparing Your Pets for Emergencies and Disasters.


By Joette White

Re-Evaluating Overnight Care New labor laws may impact this pet sitting service. (Editor’s Note: NAPPS member Joette White, president of Park Cities Pet Sitter, wants to alert fellow NAPPS members about changes in federal labor laws. Like many of you, she wrestles with how to pay for staff who stay overnight in order to provide night care for clients’ pets. This is her open letter to you and we welcome your feedback.)

Dear Pet Sitting Colleagues: I wanted to make you aware of a significant change Park Cities Pet Sitter will be making to the price of our overnight services, and why we have chosen to do so. Effective immediately, PCPSI’s rate for overnight services will increase to $125 per night, including a 20- to 30-minute dinner visit. This is a significant increase to our previous overnight rate, and is significantly more than what many of you currently charge for the same service.

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We have chosen to make this price increase due to U.S. Department of Labor laws that went into effect at the beginning of 2015 that pertain to the Home Health Care industry. As many of you are aware, pet sitting does not have its own industry lobbying groups or have labor laws that specifically address — by name — our types of service. However, most labor attorneys will compare our services to those provided by the Home Health Care industry since that is the industry whose services most closely resemble ours. One thing that the Department of Labor is very clear about in its most recently enacted labor laws is the fact that sleeping hours must be paid at minimum wage or above. This clarification means that most pet sitting business nationwide are currently not in compliance with the Department of Labor laws in how they are compensating their staff for overnight services. Park Cities Pet Sitter has decided to proactively change our client and sitter rates for overnight services so that we are compliant with current labor laws. We felt that this was the right decision for our staff, our business and our industry. In order for the pet sitting industry to evolve and improve, we must collectively do everything we can to present ourselves as professionally as possible. In this instance, we felt that a proactive change, instead of one driven by future Department of Labor audits of our industry’s practices is the right thing to do. We wrote this letter to educate you about this issue, in the case that you were unaware of the laws that govern overnight services and compensation for sleeping hours. We hope you will choose to make a similar change to your overnight rates in an effort to promote more professional practices in the pet sitting industry. Best regards, Joette White Joette White is an active NAPPS member and president of Park Cities Pet Sitter, Inc. that has provided personalized pet care in the Dallas area since 1992. The company’s motto is: “We take care of the family you leave behind.” To learn more, please visit


Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015


Knowing and Using Your Key Business Metrics: Cost of Goods Sold How much better would you feel about your business if you knew the decisions you were making about client pricing and labor costs were the correct ones? Many professional pet sitting business owners begin their businesses with a passion for animals, but little knowledge of how to read and use accounting financials. Some of these owners will be successful despite not being aware of the key metrics that are critical to running a profitable business. But many others will unfortunately overpay their staff or not charge enough for their services simply because they are not aware of what the healthy levels for some of these key metrics are.


s a business consultant, I have seen pet sitting industry business owners of all sizes struggle with crucial decisions like: • How much should I be paying my staff? • How do I know if I am paying my staff too much? • How do I know if I can afford to give a staff member a raise? • How much should I be paying myself? • How do I know if I am charging enough for my services? • How do I know if I can afford to hire an administrative person to help me? All of those questions can be quite easy to answer — but only if you are using your accounting financials when making these decisions, and only if your accounting financials are detailed enough in the right places to provide the information you need. In order to properly answer these crucial questions, it is vital that business owners have a basic understanding of their accounting financials, or have someone they trust who can assist them with reading their financials, so that they can figure out the proper calculations for key metrics like their Cost of Goods Sold and their Gross Margin. And then once the calculations are made, how does one determine whether these percentages are healthy or not for a pet sitting company? That is what we will determine here. But, first things first.

Identifying Accounting Categories In order for your accounting financials to be of great use to you, attention must first be placed on the different accounting categories used for Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015

recording all of your business activities. On Page 11, I have posted two different profit and loss statements for the same hypothetical company that show the exact information, but one profit and loss statement is much better than the other. The difference between the two profit and loss statements shown here are the level of detail and the placement of key pieces of staff wage information. Let’s concentrate on the most important key metric for a pet sitting company: Cost of Goods Sold. Cost of Goods Sold for a pet sitting company is the cost of paying the person who actually performed the pet sitting visit, plus any taxes associated with paying that person, and any workman’s compensation fees associated with having that person perform the visit. For the pet sitting industry, we do not want to include any administrative staff or the wages for any other person in the company who may receive compensation in that calculation. That means that if a pet sitting company does have a scheduler, or a marketing person it pays pay part-time, or the owner pays themselves wages from the company that are not directly related to a pet sitting visit — then they should not be included in the Cost of Goods Sold calculation. All non-pet sitting visit wages should be categorized as an Expense under Business Administration or another similarly named category. Cost of Goods Sold for a pet sitting company should only reflect the costs associated directly with providing the actual visit to a client(s). If your profit and loss statement looks a lot more like the one shown on the left on Page 11, your first step should be to speak to your bookkeeper or accountant


and ask them to change how and where they are reflecting the wages that are paid to your various staff members so that they will show up like they do on the Profit and Loss Statement on the right on Page 11. Ask that only wages directly associated with performing a pet sitting visit be shown as part of the Cost of Goods Sold category. In addition, if you (the business owner) are performing pet sitting visits in addition to other staff people, I would recommend paying yourself the same wage that you would pay a staff person performing that visit. But also break out your owner pet sitting wages as its own line item, separate from your staff people’s pet sitting wages on your accounting financials. Why do I recommend this? For two reasons: 1. If your company grows, eventually you as the business owner will stop performing regular pet sitting visits and will have to pay someone else to perform the pet sitting visits that you used to do. So it is best to pay yourself exactly what you would pay a staff person for pet sitting so when that time comes the owner’s pet sitting labor cost is not over or under inflated. 2. By clearly breaking out the owner’s pet sitting wages from other staff’s pet sitting wages, you can easily see how much of your income is coming from pet sitting and much of it — if any — is coming as a result of performing “business administration” related duties from running the business. Having the clarity about where your income is truly coming from, as an owner, is incredibly helpful when making the decision to stop performing pet sitting visits.

By Erin Fenstermaker

Calculating Cost of Goods Sold

Not Detailed Enough Profit and Loss Statement (abbreviated) Income Service Revenue Total Income

Detailed Profit and Loss Statement (abbreviated)

12,000.00 $12,000.00

Income Service Revenue Total Income

12,000.00 Once the accounting $12,000.00 financials have all wages categorized in the detailed Cost of Goods Sold Cost of Goods Sold fashion and in the correct Cost of Labor 7950 Cost of Labor location as shown in the Total Cost of Goods Sold $7,950.00 Pet Sitters 3,000.00 above example on the right, it becomes very easy Gross Profit $4,050.00 Payroll taxes 600.00 to calculate a true Cost Owner Labor - Pet Sitting 2,000.00 of Goods Sold. Using the Owner Labor - Pet Sitting Payroll Taxes 400.00 financials on the right, the Expenses Workman's Compensation 150.00 business shown is paying Overhead Expenses 2635.00 Total Cost of Labor $6,150.00 $6,150 in wages, for $12,000 in service revenue. If you Total Expenses $ 2,635.00 Total Cost of Goods Sold $6,150.00 divide $6,150 into $12,000, Net Operating Income $ 1,415.00 Gross Profit $5,850.00 that comes out to 51.25 percent — which is your Cost Erin Fenstermaker of Goods Sold. This means Expenses Business Administration what is left over — your Owner Wages (non pet sitting) 500.00 Gross Margin (Profit) is 48.75 Owner Wages Payroll Taxes (non pet sitting) 100.00 percent. In my experience Administrative Staff Labor 1000.00 from having viewed the Administrative Staff Payroll Taxes 200.00 profit and loss statements of Overhead Expenses many pet-sitting businesses, Telecommunications 525.00 those that have a Cost of Technology Costs 130.00 Goods Sold percentage Professional Fees 150.00 between 47 to 55 percent Insurance Expense 400.00 are the healthiest and most Sales and Marketing Expenses 1000.00 profitable businesses. Those Credit Card Processing Expense 255.00 businesses that have a Cost Office Supplies 175.00 of Goods Sold higher than Total Expenses $ 4,435.00 55 percent tend to have Net Operating Income $ 1,415.00 periodic cash flow issues and don’t have very much money in their business bank EXAMPLE TWO: If your calculation showed a will make you a better businessperson, and make accounts. 51.25 percent Cost of Goods Sold percentage like that decision-making significantly easier. Don’t just Once you have calculated your Cost of Goods of the hypothetical company in the original example, go on what your gut says when it comes to client Sold as described above, what should you do with that indicates that your business is most likely priced pricing and staff wages. You have clear data in that information? Here are a couple of examples appropriately and the wages paid staff are fair and your profit and loss statement that will tell you of how knowing that information helps make your healthy. My recommendation would be to keep doing what to do, if you choose to use it. n business decisions easier: what you are doing. And, if a pet sitter deserves a EXAMPLE ONE: If your calculation showed a 62 wage increase, you can afford to give a small one. I Erin Fenstermaker is a small business consultant percent Cost of Goods Sold, that indicates you are would also recommend looking at your profit and loss specializing in the pet industry. A certified dog trainer, either paying your staff too much, not charging your statements monthly to calculate your COGS and make Erin was also a part-time pet sitter for seven years while clients enough for your services or a combination sure it is staying within this healthy range. working full-time as a small business chief operating of both. My recommendation would be to plan a Calculating your Cost of Goods Sold, and officer. Erin’s ability to collaborate with business owners future price increase and not give raises when that keeping it in a healthy percentage range is on developing strategic plans, and then assisting in their price increase is implemented. I would also review the most important metric for your pet sitting implementation, is what makes her an asset to her clients. what specific service types you may be paying your business. It does not require that you become She considers herself an accountability partner to her staff more on than you should, and potentially alter a whiz at accounting. It simply means that you clients — many of whom admit they have a lot of ideas, those splits. I would also hold off on giving anyone should be mindful of how key wage information but have difficulty turning their ideas into reality. With her raises until your Cost of Goods Sold calculation is is gathered and broken out on your accounting direct manner and ability to break complex issues into back in a healthier 47 to 55 percent range. This may financials, and it means that you should prioritize workable pieces, she loves assisting pet industry businesses take a year or more to plan for and correct, but it is monitoring this metric on a monthly basis. of all sizes reach their fullest potential. Learn more at essential to do in order to have a viable business. Knowing your Cost of Goods Sold information


Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015


Which Optional Coverages Are Right For You? Okay, it’s that dreaded time of year again to renew your NAPPS Liability Insurance. The Business Insurers envelope has been sitting on your desk or kitchen counter for several weeks along with all the other mail you wished you never received. You finally open it up to see the renewal application and may say to yourself, “Why do I have to complete this application again?” You then glance at the application and see all the various options, pick up the phone and call, or jump on you computer and send an email, and announce, “I want the same thing I had last year.”


ound familiar? As most of you know, we are required by the insurance company to submit renewal applications every year. But many wonder why. The best one word answer is: change. Even though you may have been in business for many years, your business is still subject to change, and your exposures increase and decrease based on changes in your business. What may have been great insurance coverage for your business when you started, or even last year, may not be the coverage you need now. For example, consider the professional pet sitter who had taken care of all of her clients for many years, but now her son has come home from college and begun working in the business. Is he covered under her policy? Or, how about the sitter who had never brought any pets to her personal home, but was recently asked by her largest paying client to care for his aging dog at her home while his family goes on a week-long vacation? The best way to protect against these changes in your business and to make sure you are covered correctly BEFORE you have a claim is to annually review your individual coverage by completing an updated application. In an effort to give all members a better understanding of all the optional coverages, I would like to take this opportunity to go through each of the various coverage options and allow you to determine your needs for your individual business.

Individual or Standard Let’s begin by looking at the difference between the two liability policies offered: Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015

Individual or Standard. The Individual policy is for those businesses classified as sole proprietorships, and is specifically designed to insure one individual. It also includes coverage for their spouse or domestic partner. If you have no employees or independent contractors working in your business, you would qualify for the Individual Liability policy. However, if your business is classified as anything other than a sole proprietorship, you would need to take out the Standard Liability policy, which provides coverage for you, your spouse/domestic partner, as well as all employees and independent contractors who work for you. Under the NAPPS Standard policy, your basic liability rate is determined by your gross income, as this is how the insurance carrier determines your exposure each year.

Mandatory: Care, Custody, and Control The mandatory Care, Custody and Control option provides coverage for the pets in your care. The company mandates this coverage, as this is where pet sitters incur the majority of their claims. Please note: pets are covered regardless of fault under the coverage form, (up to the limit you choose when you take out the policy, $10,000 - $200,000). Coverage is provided wherever you go with them, including in your vehicle, to the park, to the veterinary clinic and other places. The only place pets would not be covered is when they are taken to your personal residence, your employee’s personal residence, and/or your independent contractor’s or volunteers personal residence for daycare or overnight boarding. You would need a


separate endorsement (In Your Home Pet Care) to cover this exposure. What some members fail to realize is that the Care, Custody and Control form under the NAPPS Liability policy also covers your client’s personal property while in your care. When your client(s) gives you the keys to their home for a week while they go on vacation, all of their belongings are now in your care, custody and control. Under most unendorsed general liability policies, personal property in your care, custody and control is excluded. Most insurers would deny all personal property claims under the care, custody and control exclusion for such scenarios as: • You neglected to crate the client’s dog and the dog chewed up the sofa. • You accidentally left a heat lamp turned on and it caused fire damage to the furnishings in the home. • You didn’t turn off a faucet completely and the client’s home suffered water damage. All of these scenarios have occurred over the years, and fortunately, the NAPPS Liability policy does provide coverage up to the limit chosen when the policy is taken out ($10,000 - $200,000). It is recommended that you carefully consider the clients’ homes you are sitting for (do they have really nice, expensive furnishings?), and the number of pets in the home, ($10,000 may not be enough to cover all veterinary medical expenses, especially if multiple pets are injured) when determining the appropriate limit for your business.

Coverage for Pet Grooming Many of you provide services over and above what many would consider professional pet sitting. Some may offer massage, some baths, while others will give haircuts and trim nails. Under the NAPPS policy, you do not need the Pet Grooming optional endorsement if you are bathing pets, brushing them or performing massage therapy. The Pet Grooming endorsement is only required if you are cutting or styling hair and/or clipping nails. When this coverage is elected, the Pet Groomers Professional Liability form is attached to your general liability policy, which provides additional coverage for wrongful acts caused by rendering or failure to render pet grooming professional services. For example, if you were

By David Pearsall, CIC, CWCA

CanStock Photo

to be sued for a bad haircut or for causing injury to the pet due to cutting the nails too short, or cutting the ear with the shears.

Coverage for In Your Home Pet Care The In Your Home Pet Care Endorsement covers your business if you provide overnight pet boarding or pet daycare in your home. It also includes coverage if you take in an occasional special needs pet into your home for the night. If you opt for this coverage, this endorsement extends your care, custody and control coverage to cover all personal residences, including your home, as well as the homes of your employees, independent contractors and/or volunteers. It provides coverage for caring for up to 10 pets at a time, during the day or overnight at your personal residence. However, please be aware that the endorsement does not provide coverage for your own personal pets, or for the contents of your personal residence(s). Please also note that you must follow all laws in your state/area regarding operating a boarding facility or daycare.

Coverage for Housesitting

When this coverage is elected, the Pet Groomers Professional Liability form is attached to your general liability policy, which provides additional coverage for wrongful acts caused by rendering or failure to render pet grooming professional services. For example, if you were to be sued for a bad haircut or for causing injury to the pet due to cutting the nails too short, or cutting the ear with the shears.

Do you take care of clients’ homes when there are no pets in the household? Do you pick up


mail, water plants, turn on and off lights/alarms or other housesitting services when no pets are in the home? If so, you will need the Housesitting optional endorsement. This coverage option was created after our insurance carrier denied a number of claims where damage occurred at the client’s home, but the client did not have any pets in the home. The NAPPS Liability policy is designed specifically for pet sitters, not house sitters or concierge services, so the insurer limits the amount of housesitting to no more than 45 percent of your annual receipts. If you are performing housesitting services only and perform no pet sitting, or if you are running a concierge service, cleaning service or other service outside of pet sitting, you do not qualify for NAPPS Liability policy, and will need to look elsewhere for coverage. n David Pearsall, CIC, CWCA, is vice-president/co-owner of Business Insurers of the Carolinas, a multi-line commercial insurance agency specializing in insurance for pet service professionals since 1995. He is a licensed insurance agent in all 50 states and has held the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation and the Certified Workers Compensation Advisor (CWA) designation since 2002. David can be reached at 1-800-962-4611, ext. #214, or via email at Professional Pet Sitter ¡ Winter 2015


Learning to Read D-O-G Accurately interpreting a dog’s body language can keep you safe. One of the most common behavioral issues I work on is leash reactivity. It is a common misconception that when a dog is unruly on leash (barking and lunging at other dogs) that the dog is aggressive. In this column, I would explain the difference between reactivity and aggression. These two terms are not interchangeable and have very different meanings. If your dogs are exhibiting any reactive or aggressive behaviors, please contact a professional dog trainer for assistance.

Defining Reactivity Reactivity is easiest defined as an overreaction to a stimulus. The most common form of reactivity I work with is leash reactivity. Leash reactivity is when a dog is exhibiting a set of inappropriate behaviors while on leash. Dogs can be leash reactive towards a variety of stimuli, but the most likely scenario is when they see another dog or person. The most frequent over reactive behaviors are barking and lunging. When you see a dog you are not familiar with and he is barking and lunging, it is natural to think he is being aggressive, but that is not typically the case. There are many different Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015

the source of the reactivity based on close scrutiny of the dog’s body language.

The A-B-Cs of Aggression

Aggression is best defined as intent to do harm. When a dog is truly aggressive, he will do harm if given the opportunity. Aggression, like reactivity, has different causes. The most common form of dog aggression I deal with is fear based, but aggression can be derived from dominance, territorial and possession to name a few. Aggression and reactivity, to the average person, can look very similar. Therefore, it is hard to determine whether the dog is a danger or not. It is best to let a professional dog trainer make the determination and create a rehabilitation plan. If you think your dog is aggressive, you should not only contact a professional, but you should also take detailed notes of the scenario in which the dog became aggressive. That information will be extremely beneficial to the professional helping you. It is also a good idea to consult with your veterinarian as well. Some medications can cause aggression and some medications may be needed to help the dog work through the aggression. Please note that safety always comes first. If you have an aggressive dog and a small child in the home, then it may be a better idea CanStock Photo to rehome the dog. If you are able to attempt to work through the aggression, causes of reactivity. Yes, aggression is one of you will need to come up with a management plan them, but the majority of cases I see stem from with your trainer. fear, excitement and even dominance. Please note that any breed is capable of When a dog is fearful, he will put on a large becoming aggressive. In fact, I have personally display of behaviors in an attempt to deter the dog worked with many different breeds that exhibited or person from coming close to him. When a dog is aggression, and guess what? Less than one overly excited when he sees another dog or person percent were pit bulls. while on leash, he can become frustrated that he cannot freely go over to meet them. So, as you can How Possession Turns Into see, when another dog on leash is barking and Resource Guarding lunging at you or your dog, he is not necessarily When a dog is being possessive over an aggressive. If you are in that situation, it is best object, space or person, it is called resource to play it safe by changing or moving across the guarding. Resource guarding is defined as when a street. A trained dog professional can determine dog controls access to food, objects, people and/or


By Colleen Dermott

locations that are important to him. I have seen dogs from a variety of backgrounds become resource guarders. One word of caution: Do not yell or use physical punishment when your dog is exhibiting resource guarding. There reasons are: 1. You never want to correct your dog for giving you warnings. 2. Yelling and doing physical corrections are viewed as aggressive and challenging to your dog. These actions can cause his guarding behavior to increase. Please consult a trained professional to assist you in working through this issue. In some situations, resource guarding can be mild, but other times, it can be severe. Resource guarding frequently becomes worse when it is not addressed. If your dog is showing mild signs, this is the best time to work through the issue before it becomes a safety concern.

Be Watchful for Warning Signs Dogs have a variety of warning signs they show before they bite. Some of the warnings are obvious like growling, snapping, barking and baring teeth. Others are less obvious like hard eyes, whale eye, frozen/stiff body and closed mouth. When you see any of these warning signs, it is critical that you DO NOT correct your dog. If you discipline your dog when he displays warning signs then you are teaching your dog that it is not good to warn you. We want our dogs to warn us before they bite. Ask a professional to help you work on the situation that is causing your dog to offer warnings instead of correcting them for warning. I cannot stress that point enough! For example, let’s say Jane was pushing around Sally on the playground. Sally said to Jane: “Stop it. I don’t like that (warning).” Jane doesn’t listen to Sally’s warning so Sally pushes Jane to the ground (inappropriate action). Would you punish Sally for telling Jane to stop it? That is the same as correcting your dog for giving warning signs. Instead, you want to teach Sally a more appropriate option when Jane isn’t listening to her.

Colleen Dermott

Please note that any breed is capable of becoming aggressive. In fact, I have personally worked with many different breeds that exhibited aggression, and guess what? Less than one percent were pit bulls. This is what a professional trainer can help you with your dog.

Explaining Bite Inhibition Bite inhibition is a big topic, but I am going to focus on bite inhibition as it pertains to warning signs and aggression. Adult dogs have control of how much pressure that put onto another being. If your dog snaps at you and you quickly pull your hand away, you may think that the dog was going to bite you and that you pulled your hand away in time. The reality is that our response time is much slower than our dogs, so most likely the dog did not have any intention of making contact with your skin. When I am evaluating the level of aggression in dogs, I always ask for details on the injuries the other person or dog incurred. If an adult dog bit a person, but didn’t draw blood then that tells me that the dog did not have intention to do harm and was warning that person. If a dog left puncture


wounds on another dog, then that tells me that there was intention to do harm. Keep in mind that if a dog or person ignores the warning signs from a dog, then the warning signs will increase in intensity. If a dog’s warning signs are ignored then his fight or flight instinct kicks in. Once fight or flight kicks in, the dog can cause more intense injuries because he feels his safety is in jeopardy. A dog who bites when in fight or flight is not necessarily aggressive, as he is just attempting to protect himself from a perceived threat. n Colleen Dermott is a certified professional dog trainer and a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She and her husband, Ian operate Dog Tranquility, LLC, a company in Burke, VA that offers a variety of pet services, including wilderness walks and even cat behavior consultations. The Dermotts became members of NAPPS in 2015. To learn more, please visit Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015

NAPPS 2016 Business Carol Corera and her Flying Duchess team By Arden Moore bring out the best in Toronto’s pets.

Business of the Year Perks The NAPPS Business of the Year Award is presented to a member who has demonstrated outstanding business practices and vision in maintaining and growing their business. The honor includes: • Complimentary participation in the 2016 Education and Networking Forum in Orlando, Fla. (inclusive of registration, lodging, and transportation). • Professionally prepared customized public relations press release to local media by the national NAPPS office. • The Flying Duchess company logo displayed on the NAPPS website for one year. • Recognition of Flying Duchess company during the 2016 Education and Networking Forum. • Indefinite use of the “NAPPS Pet Sitting Business of the Year 2016” logo.

NAPPS President Yvette Gonzales, who serves on the nominating committee, says, “It was great to see so many worthy submissions, but Carol’s well-thought out application package in addition to her many client nominations helped make a tough decision easier for the committee.” Corera, a former elementary school teacher, has traveled to many places, but regards herself as a loyal Torontonian. She lives there with her husband, Kintoo and their sons, Zephyr and Brinley, as well as her 10-yearold calico cat, Nuka, who she adopted as a stray kitten during travels to Kuwait. “Nuka has been my constant companion through all my ups and downs and in many ways, she is like my first kid,” says Corera. “I can relate to pet parents who want that extra care and service and give thanks, in part, to Nuka because she has taught me so much.” When Corera returned to Toronto, she discovered it was very challenging to find a full-time teaching position. She also realized that there was a shortage of quality pet sitting services in this Canadian city. That inspired her to start Flying Duchess Professional Pet Sitting in 2009. One of her first business moves was to join NAPPS. “NAPPS has been my lifesaver when I needed to be kept afloat,” says Corera. “I am grateful to have the support, mentorship and guidance that NAPPS has provided me over the years.” Flying Duchess is insured, bonded and committed to fulfilling its motto: “Providing stress-free service one pet at a time.” And committed to pet health and

Shannon Echlin Photography


s a professional pet sitter, Carol Corera exemplifies what it means to demonstrate grace under pressure — especially when facing two major life situations. She gave birth to her second son, a baby named Brinly, on Oct. 21 and two days later, she submitted the comprehensive application deadline before the strike of midnight for the prestigious NAPPS 2016 Business of the Year. Going above and beyond to meet the needs of pets in the Toronto area is standard operating procedure for Corera and her Flying Duchess Professional Pet Sitters team. Although she is grateful to earn the prestigious NAPPS Business of the Year honors, Corera is quick to salute her staff, clients and advisers. “Flying Duchess is not simply me, but it is backed by a team effort,” she says. “It is our dedicated pet sitters who are willing to keep learning, our very loyal repeat clients who keep organically spreading the word for us, and the systematized processes we have in place that help keep things running and operating. We also appreciate our advisers Kintoo Yong, Evita Machevin and Matthieu Machevin, who have helped bring Flying Duchess to where it is today.”

Meet Carol Corera’s family: (from left) son, Zephyr, cat, Nuka, husband, Kintoo and newborn son, Brinley. Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015



As part of the requirements in the application process to be considered for 2016 NAPPS Business of the Year honors, pet sitters had to include comments from clients. More than a dozen satisfied Flying Duchess clients willingly submitted statements. Here is a sampling: • “The Flying Duchess pet sitter was confident and knowledgeable about caring for a diabetic cat. I love the fact that I received daily messages while I was away. The sitter described each of my two cats’ personalities to a tee. I returned home to two happy and healthy cats.” — Ann Atkinson • “I was able to be on a worry-free vacation while my pets were looked after. I am happy with the level of service they provide and I am a repeat customer.” – Robin Chow • “Having Flying Duchess care for my pet while I’m away is always a huge weight off my shoulders. I know that the team members are smart, savvy, caring pet lovers who inspire every confidence that they’ll take great care of my cat.” — Sam Maglio • “”We feel secure while away. We return to find our pets content. The daily reports from Flying Duchess staff are truthful, comforting and thorough.” — Brent Vickar

safety, Corera is a certified pet first aid instructor who conducts pet first aid and safety training to her team. One of the pet sitters, Alyssa Rice, is studying to become a veterinarian and regards this job as ideal while she is in school. “Carol has been a great role model to help me grow as a professional pet sitter,” says Rice. “Flying Duchess stands out for many reasons. We are all first-aid certified, have a passion for animals, and have gone through a training period to make sure we know what to do in any situation that might arise.” The majority of the Flying Duchess business comes from those on vacation or taking business trips. The Flying Duchess team includes 16 pet sitters and two office employees. The staff primarily caters to cats and dogs, but also have experience caring for snakes, sugar gliders, birds, bunnies and pocket pets. Declan Williams, a pet sitter on staff, says, “Carol has taught me a lot about the role that owner’s peace of mind plays in their pet’s happiness.”

“Flying Duchess provides a premium level of service. The automated voiceto-text technology used to provide updates adds a level of comfort while I am away from my pets.” In addition, Flying Duchess uses Instagram to provide private pet photos for clients and social media to communicate community events and topics of interest to their clients. Its website is also mobile friendly, making it convenient for clients to access while traveling. Corera gives thanks to her husband, Kintoo, for providing her with savvy business feedback, and her sister, Evita, who visited her during Corera’s final month of pregnancy. “Without my sister’s help, I would not have been able to complete the questionnaire and send it in on time to NAPPS,” says Corera. And, what’s Corera’s parting message to fellow NAPPS members? Invest the time to complete the Business of the Year application — it’s worth it. Gonzales echoes this message. “While we understand it takes a great deal of effort to put the submission package together, the exposure and the prestige of being named NAPPS Business of the Year is something a business is able to use in marketing campaigns and for client acquisition not just next year, but the years in the future,” says Gonzales, who owns As You Wish Pet Sitters. “I strongly encourage businesses of any size to participate in our Business of the Year program, and challenge you to set yourself apart from the competition.” n


Clients Appreciate the Voice Mails To alleviate stress felt by many clients who travel, Flying Duchess offers a toll-free virtual voice mailbox service. At the end of each visit, a Flying Duchess pet sitter records a detailed audio message about the pets that owners can listen to toll-free no matter where they are in the world. “Our voice mails are more personal than a written email,” says Corera. “Our goal is to make our clients feel at ease when they hear the sitter’s voice — and sometimes, the meows or barks of their pets in the background. Equally important is for our sitters to be very transparent. If they have to cut short a visit due to traffic or a need to go to a medication visit, they let the client know and also let them know that they will spend extra time with the pets during the next visit.” Client Alison Munro appreciates this voice mail service and adds,

• • • • •

Location: Toronto, Ontario Established: 2009 Staff: 18 Owner Carol Corera is a certified pet first aid instructor. Mission statement: “Providing stress-free service one pet at a time.” • Innovative service: provide clients with daily voice reports from pet sitters that are accessible internationally. • Website:


Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015

BE A VOLUNTEER Your association needs your dedication, enthusiasm and ingenuity to continue to provide the best possible programs and services. Committee members work together to accomplish the goals of the association, while growing it into the most powerful non-profit in the in-home pet sitting industry. We need your help to continue to provide the best possible programs and services. Continuing Education Points for participation will be awarded depending on your placement. Your project leader will provide more information. Specifically, we seek volunteers in these areas: SOCIAL MEDIA SUB-COMMITTEE

The Social Media Sub-Committee is responsible for creating guidelines for NAPPS social media content and posting frequency, as well as continuously providing supplemental content for NAPPS social media platforms. Enthusiastic volunteers are needed to build this sub-committee from the ground up. If you have a knack for posting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube or Periscope we want you! If you don’t have experience, but stay up to date on all things pet or pet sitting we want you! If you want to be an integral part of YOUR association we want you! Monthly Meeting Dates: 3rd Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. ET Monthly Meeting Dates: 3rd Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. ET


Have you learned a thing or two about pet care over the years? Do you have any tips, tricks or techniques to share? Do you have the desire to share your knowledge, pet passion, information? Do you like to brainstorm, collaborate, write, research? If you’ve answered YES to even one of the above — please join us for our upcoming meeting. Invest just one hour and check us out. Thanks for considering joining Pet Parent Resources. Also, this committee is seeking a Chair and Co-Chair. Monthly Meeting Dates: 2nd Wednesday of each month at 3:30 p.m. ET


Feed your entrepreneurial spirit by joining the NAPPS Marketing Committee! We are working on social media, the web site, and developing creative strategies for the overall marketing of NAPPS and its committees. The Marketing Committee also has several working teams: Emergency Planning, Animal Welfare and Law, and Presents for Pets. Helpful skill sets include: • Marketing • Public Relations • Administrative • Writing • Proof Reading • Editing • Research • Strategic Planning • Creativity • Graphic Design • Also, the Committee is seeking a Chair and Co-Chair. Monthly Meeting Dates: 3rd Wednesday of each month at 3:30 p.m. ET


The Membership Committee is hard at work, making an impact n our industry and our organization. We want you to join the fun! Membership Committee volunteers connect with new members, current members and potential members in the effort to promote our organization, answer questions and expand NAPPS’ reach amongst professional pet sitters everywhere. We are looking for enthusiastic and outgoing volunteers who are dedicated to improving the NAPPS experience and bringing our membership together. The time commitment varies depending on the project. Monthly Meeting Dates: 2nd Thursday of each month at 3:30 p.m. ET


The Member Benefits Committee is currently seeking a Host for our Mentoring Teleconferences. Mentoring Teleconferences are scheduled on the third Tuesday of each month at 8 p.m. ET. What’s involved? • Hosts provide general instructions at the beginning of the calls, introduce the speaker and moderate questions during the Q&A portion of the conference. • Hosts take care of some behind-thescenes duties, including recording the conference so it is available to members in the NAPPS Mentoring Teleconference archive. Why do it? • Networking opportunity with an industry expert, as well as other NAPPS members. • This is a great way to volunteer for your association with a small time commitment.

Please contact NAPPS Headquarters, Cathe Delaney at 856-793-0905 or if you are interested in becoming a NAPPS volunteer.

Holy Cow! It’s the Cat’s Meow!

Author Boze Hadleigh lets the cat out of the bag by explaining the origins of popular animal phrases and sayings.


By Arden Moore • Hush puppies: In the period of poverty following the Civil War in the South, mothers often served up bits of fried corn batter to quiet the hungry cries of children and dogs. They often said, “Hush, child” or “Hush, puppy.” The cornmeal morsels were also tossed by hunters to quiet down noisy dogs. • Straight from the horse’s mouth: In the olden days, a horse was comparatively as expensive as a car is today and one did not want to overspend on a horse with the possibility of having not much work left in it. The chief method of gauging a horse’s age was to examine his teeth and see how much they had worn and how far the gum line had receded. • Piggy bank: Piggy evolved from pygg, the name of a clay once widely used in Britain to make kitchen earthenware items. People often used to store money in kitchen jars and pots made of pygg and later piggy banks. That’s why they are not referred to as a doggy bank or kitty bank. • Lame duck president: A lame duck is someone unable to fend for himself — like, literally, a lame duck. But it is most often used in reference to a lameduck president, one whose term of office is nearly at an end — as well as his influence. The first people called lame ducks were 17th century members of the London Stock Exchange who couldn’t pay their debts and so lost their seats and reputations.

id you ever wonder how phrases like “straight from the horse’s mouth” and “lame duck president” originated? For answers, we turn to the world’s wordsmith expert Boze Hadleigh. In his latest book, Holy Cow! Doggerel, catnaps, scapegoats, foxtrots and horse feathers – splendid animal words and phrases, Hadleigh has the answers. And many will surprise you. But first a little bio background on Hadleigh. The man is proficient in five languages: English, Spanish, French, German and Italian…and probably not necessarily in that order. He also is a prolific writer, having authored more than 15 books and written articles for more than 100 leading publications. And, he is a man who doesn’t like to stay in one place with homes in Beverly Hills, Calif. and Sydney, Australia plus many road trips during the calendar year. In his travels, he has met many famous people and even earned this praise for his book by the iconic Doris Day, actress and founder/ president of The Doris Day Animal League. On the first page of the Holy Cow! book, she declares: “If animals could read, they’d love this!” In this book, Hadleigh offers these explanations behind these popular sayings: • Holy cow: This expression soared in popularity in the 1960s because of TV’s twice-weekly Batman series in which Robin, the Boy Wonder, habitually blurted out “holy” exclamations. Hadleigh notes that in India, cows are held in high esteem and revered as holy cows. • Cat’s meow: Also referred to as the cat’s pajamas, this phrase surfaced in the 1920s when pajamas were a fairly new women’s fashion item. In 1922, the New York Times described an unknown woman strolling Fifth Avenue dressed in yellow silk pajamas in tandem with four pet cats similarly dressed. The media crafted popular catch phrases of “the cat’s pajamas” and “the cat’s meow” to mean A-1, the best of the best and tip-top.

Horseradish Origin And Hadleigh’s dogged research discovered another word origin puzzlement. It turns out that horseradish, now a popular condiment, has nothing to do with horses or radishes. It’s more of an English mistranslation for this German plant that grew along the coastline. Meer (German for the word, sea) was confused with the English mare (a female horse). n Arden Moore, editor of the NAPPS digital magazine, also hosts the Oh Behave Show each week on Pet Life Radio. Catch the complete Oh Behave Show episode featuring author Boze Hadleigh by clicking here: www.petliferadio. com/behaveep273.html.


Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015

Sizing Up Cat Treats


Know the calorie counts of products to keep from exceeding 20 percent of a cat’s daily diet.

t’s almost a mantra in any discuss of pet obesity and healthy eating. We should limit treats to no more than 20 percent of our cats’ daily diet. Some nutritionists advise lowering the limit even more to 10 percent. But how do we determine the calories in our cat’s favorite treat? Perhaps the manufacturer doesn’t list calories on its packaging. The result can be that, if we give our cat a handful of treats, he can quickly reach that 20 percent limit. Here’s how: A typical adult cat who weighs 8 to 10 pounds needs only 160 to 250 calories a day, says nutritionist Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, Ph.D., at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and president-elect of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. At that lower limit, a cat could reach the 20 percent treat threshold by consuming 16 Temptations or 11 Pounce soft-moist treats. “All those nice tendery, morselly things are what cats really like, so people tend to get a little overly rambunctious in offering them,” Dr. Wakshlag says. “If the cat likes it, they keep feeding it.” Occasional human treats also can add up. According to the USDA, a single ounce of chunk light tuna packed in oil, intended for people, contains 56 calories when drained.

Calorie counts may be required on the labels of pet food soon as a result of a recommendation from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). While the organization has no regulatory powers, states usually follow and mandate its recommendations. Treats were not included in the first round of recommendations, but Stan Cook, chair of the AAFCO Pet Food Committee, expects them to be added shortly. What’s an owner to do? “I think if you’re going to use a treat, why not use one that at least has some sort of health benefit,” Dr. Wakshlag says. “Take dental treats, for example. At least they’re going to clean their teeth.” His black domestic shorthaired cat, Kermit, gets no pet treats because he is too plump and has been on a weight-loss regimen, Dr. Wakshlag says. On rare occasions, Kermit’s entreaties are answered. Dr. Wakshlag explains, “We basically go and put more food in his bowl. Some weight loss is better than no weight loss.” Many manufacturers state their recommendation for daily treats on their packaging. When the information on calories wasn’t included, we asked the companies, and customer service representatives had the information immediately available. In the case of manufacturers’ listing calories in kcals, the metric unit of measurement is essentially the same as calories and we used that. The message in all the numbers and evocations of tasty treats: Less is more for many cats. Break the treats into smaller pieces or go ahead and

Less is More – Break Treats Into Smaller Pieces If you want to compare the calories in treats to the daily calories that your cat requires, this chart can help. It also — as a cautionary note – lists the number of treats it would take to reach the daily 20 percent limit on treats that experts advise. We made the calculations based on a hypothetical 8-pound cat who consumes 180 calories daily and a 10-pound cat who consumes 200 calories daily.

Photo by Arden Moore

Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015


People Treats Add Up, Too

make it into a game so they are burning a few calories to get those tasty morsels. When manufacturers are exercising responsibility in their recommendations, we have to do the same and limit treats to our pets, despite their pleas. It’s too easy to reach the 20 percent column in the following chart and risk the health threats to our cats, from cancer to osteoarthritis and diabetes that accompany obesity. n This article was reprinted with permission from Cat Watch magazine.

20 % Daily Calories for TREAT NAME CALs/TREAT 8-LB CAT 10-LB CAT BLUE Kitty Yums Tasty beef recipe




BLUE Wilderness chicken & trout, soft-moist




Feline Greenies Pill Pocket treats




Feline Greenies Dental treats, tuna




Purina Whisker Lickin’s Crunchy tuna flavor




Meow Mix Irresistibles Tuna & shrimp crunchy




Natural Balance Perfect Bites, rabbit




Pounce Cat Treats Chicken flavor moist




Pounce Cat Treats Crunchy tuna flavor




Pro Plan Savory Bites With real chicken




Purina Whisker Lickin’s Soft & chicken flavor




Temptations Treats For Cats, all flavors




Wellness Kitties Tasty Crunchy Cat Treats, Salmon & cranberries




Zuke’s Natural Purrz Savory salmon




If you slip your cat an occasional sardine or piece of chicken, those aren’t free of calories. Here are some calorie counts of some human foods: • A drained small sardine canned in oil: 25 calories • A cubic inch of drained canned mackerel: 25 calories • One ounce of skinless, boneless grilled chicken breast: 43 calories • Once ounce of breast meet from a rotisserie chicken: 39 calories

IStock Photo


Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015

ABOUT YOUR ASSOCIATION Meet the NAPPS 2016 Board of Directors President Yvette Gonzales As You Wish, LLC Highlands Ranch, CO

Director Tiffany Hammer Manson Dallas Professional Pet Care Dallas, TX

Past President Sherry L. Suhosky Animal Aunts 4 Pets Placitas, NM

Director Flavia Berti Equipaws Pet Services, LLC Miami, FL

President Elect Jessica Abernathy Professional Pet Sitter, Inc. Riverwoods, IL

Director Isabel Alvarez Arata The Wag Pack Alexandria, VA

Secretary - Treasurer Cyndy Lippert Whiskers & Wags Professional Pet Sitting, LLC Killingworth, CT

Director Marc Wolf Wolf’s Pet Sitting & Services Golden, CO

Remember, NAPPS is the only National non-profit pet sitting association for members, by members.



The only National non-profit professional pet sitting association dedicated to setting the industry standard and championing the welfare of animals.

To be the most respected authority in professional pet sitting.

Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015


WHAT’S NEW ON NAPPS CHAT MESSAGE BOARD WHAT ARE THE BEST QUESTIONS TO ASK CLIENTS? One of the many benefits of NAPPS membership is the ability to network with fellow pet sitters from around the country when you need advice or support. Check out some of the recent conversations in the NAPPS chat room and be sure to participate even if you don’t have a question of your own. Other members might benefit when you share your experience! (Editor’s Note: Responses have been edited for clarity and space concerns. Check NAPPS Chat Message Board for the full responses.)

QUESTION FOR NAPPS MEMBERS I am just starting my business as a pet sitter and dog walker. What contract worked best for all of you? Is there a set of questions you ask at your initial “meet and greet”? I know what I think should be asked, but do not want to miss anything, and again, I am not sure all of the important questions will be covered in a form contract. I appreciate input. Michelle, Kibbles-n-Cuddles Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Services

RESPONSES Michelle, Ask things that you would want a sitter to ask you. When I started thinking on what to ask, I asked myself just that. Also, plan ahead to expect the unexpected. For example, asking a pet owner where the shut off valve for the water is may not seem like a big thing, but that’s when the unexpected happens and a pipe bursts. Yes, I ask where all the utility shut offs are, just to plan for the unexpected. I’ve had a few customers not know where their utility shut offs are. Being more rural here in Montana, I also check gates, and fences. I ask how the pet reacts to wildlife, or livestock. As I said, think from the point of view of being a pet owner who wants the pet sitter to be alerted about the pet, house and property. I hope this helps. Sky, Sky Care

Hi Michelle, I can relate to what Sky said about being in a rural area. I learned the hard way about gates when a Missouri Fox Trotter, who had never been left, pulled the bolt out of the gate in his corral, and took off for eight hours. I got to know all the neighbors real well. After that, I ALWAYS ask the owners about gates, and check them myself. I definitely ask about reactions to thunderstorms, as they are many in this mountainous area. Also, ask if there will be anyone else coming in the house (housekeepers, etc.) and if they are expecting any packages. Rusty, Fur Feathers and Fins Pet Care

I’ve also asked for phone numbers for their plumber, electrician and pool service in case anything happens while they are away -- especially those who are going away for two to three weeks. I took care of horses and cows for a customer. The hose end broke on the hose that brings water to the pasture. I had to go to hardware store for supplies. I now bring basic tools with me so I don’t have to rummage through their sheds to find basic tools. Grateful for this chat board and all the great ideas from everyone! Sharon, Surrounded by Pets LLC

In regards to your questionnaire, be sure to take a thorough veterinary and behavioral history of ALL animals. In regards to your contract, a template is a good place to start, but you want your contract to reflect your unique set of values, wants and needs. Sit down and really reflect on the issues you see as important. Take your time writing them down. I encourage you to seek the advice of at least one, and preferably more than one contract law attorney. An excellent place to look for legal assistance would be your local Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) chapter. These folks have been there and done that and you can frequently receive assistance free or at a very reasonable fee that will fit your budget. Bob, Bob’s Pet Sitting


I have provided a generic version of my Meet & Greet questionnaire – please see the spreadsheet available for members to use on Page 24. I made this questionnaire and it is based off everything I wanted someone knowing about my pets and from life experiences (like when I didn’t know a client’s door auto locked whenever you used it or when I didn’t know a specific sink didn’t actually drain). Then I talked to two veterinarians I had worked with to come up with a questionnaire and contract about vetting. I also recommend leaving a list of the area’s emergency veterinary clinics (address, phone, days and hours of operation) at each client’s house and have them highlight the one they have used or prefer. I’ve never needed it, but it seems like a good idea. I hope this helps and I am more than willing to email you my questionnaire if you would like. Nikki, Moxie’s Pet Services (Editor’s note: Much thanks, Nikki, for sharing this detailed and helpful questionnaire with our NAPPS members!)

Bob, I am so glad you mentioned SCORE for business mentorship! SCORE is a non-profit made up of retired business people with a passion for supporting other entrepreneurs. In my experience, SCORE provides mentorship for free and both in-person and online seminars for very low cost. The one I attended for ‘starting-yourown business’ was approximately $30. I have accessed mentors in both eastern and western Massachusetts over the last year. Their help has been invaluable and allowed me to feel/be more autonomous in this process so that I›m not bugging my pet parents with as many questions! I leave each session with a list of things to do and we go over the progress the next time. Both mentors I›ve worked with were great listeners, good humored and seemed very knowledgeable about start-ups, including social media. In conclusion, SCORE continues to be a great, very low-cost resource for me. If you like, check out their website to see what›s available near you. Adriene, Happy Cats Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015


Courtesy of Nikki of Moxie’s Pet Service

Days: ___________________________ Time frame: _____________________ Referred by: _____________________ Pricing: _________________________

Client Information Name: Address: Phone #'s:

Emails: Emergency Contact Info: Relation to you:

Do they have a key or entry to the home?

Veterinary Information Name of hospital: Phone #: Address:

Locations of:

Cleaning Suppies: Vacuum: Broom & dust pan: Pet food: Emergency Kit: Garbage Inside: Outside: Spare/Hidden Key: Mail box: Litter boxes:

Security Information

Location of key pad: Pin #: Password: Anyone authorized to be in your home while you are gone:


Television Instructions: Wifi Login Info:


Garbage day: Stopping mail/packages?: Gardener or Cleaning crew info: Watering plants: Feeding fish: Brand of litter: Things we should know (i.e. neighbors that are or aren't friendly, doors that automatically lock, sinks or toilets that don't work, etc.):

Pet Information Name: Breed: Medications: Supplements: Food brand: Feeding: Allergies: Special Needs (i.e. medical, behavioral, training techniques):

DOB: Sex:


Name: Breed: Medications: Supplements: Food brand: Feeding: Allergies: Special Needs (i.e. medical, behavioral, training techniques):

DOB: Sex:


Name: Breed: Medications: Supplements: Food brand: Feeding: Allergies: Special Needs (i.e. medical, behavioral, training techniques):

DOB: Sex:


Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015



Emergency Planning NAPPS has been in the forefront of pet emergency planning. Both natural and man-made emergencies have made it clear that pet owners and pet professionals need to have a plan in case of an unforeseen tragedy. NAPPS has created emergency plans for both pet owners and pet sitters. • Download a copy of the Emergency Planning Guide for Pet Sitters today, so that you will be prepared. • Also, encourage your customers to go the NAPPS Home Page and download the Emergency Planning Guide for Pet Owners. • A shorter quick reference is also provided for pet owners and is a great promotional tool for the individual pet sitter. • Emergency Planning emergency wallet ID cards are available to identify emergency pet guardian and emergency veterinarian contacts.


Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015

NA P P S IN THE NE WS NAPPS PR EFFORTS Your association has an active public relations and marketing campaign that raises the visibility of NAPPS and its programs, and establishes NAPPS as the authority in professional pet sitting. Each month, the NAPPS PR team provides regular story ideas to national media outlets designed to increase awareness of the organization and the entire profession. The press room, located on our website, houses a library of all the recent releases that have generated lots of media interest. PR efforts have surpassed many milestones! • NAPPS gained more than 350 new followers on Facebook, bringing our total number of “likes” to over 4,240. • NAPPS increased its social media presence by reaching 1.5 million people in just six months...this was an average of reaching 250,000 social media users each month. • NAPPS gained more than 1,000 new followers on Twitter, bringing our total number of Twitter followers to almost 5,520 as of November, 2015. • NAPPS is helping to increase awareness of pet safety and caring for animals during extreme weather conditions through shareable content like digital media and infographics. n

4 places to find a pet sitter online

That’s the NAPPS Advantage

Do you have it?

Dog day care: How to find the best fit for your pup Professional Pet Sitter · Winter 2015


Looking for the Perfect Holiday Gift? Look no further — give the GIFT of NAPPS Membership Since 1989, NAPPS has been providing education and resources to professional pet sitters. We are the ONLY non-profit national organization for professional pet sitters and the ONLY non-profit national organization for pet parents. NAPPS Members are able to “gift” memberships to clients for only $10 per year. To purchase a “gift” membership, visit the Give a Gift Membership link in the Member Area Features Section. You are able to “gift” as many memberships as you would like — one for each of your clients.

Why not give your clients the “gift” of educational opportunities and resources which will benefit them throughout the year? Exclusive benefits offered to NAPPS Pet Parent Members:  A “welcome kit” which includes [1] tote bag with NAPPS logo, [1] car magnet, [1] chip clip and [1] pet first aid kit  Virtual library of informative articles  FREE quarterly Pet Parent teleconference with special guest speakers to discuss Pet-Related Topics  Emergency Preparedness Documents  Pet Parent Message Board  Quarterly e-Newsletter  Coupons and Discounts  And much more!