A teenager named Madison who I mentor is a huge animal lover. In fact, she’s the kind of 15-year-old that begs her parents to take in virtually any stray dog or cat off the street.
Madison’s love of all things four-legged, flying or feathered led her to apply for – and earn – a position as a zoo aide this summer. I’m super proud of her. And Madison’s passion for animals will no doubt serve her well when she goes to college to study veterinarian medicine and one day becomes a veterinarian.
While many of us adults love animals too, the vast majority of us will never go to school for that. But that doesn’t mean you can earn a buck as an animal lover – something I was recently reminded of when I learned about a unique opportunity for animal enthusiasts to make money.
The concept is incredibly simple: basically, you act as an overnight dog-sitter/caretaker, bringing a pooch into your own home, while the pet’s owner is traveling on business or for leisure purposes.
How can you do this? Through a company called DogVacay, which offers a community of individuals willing to play hosts to dogs – and provide a loving home – while the dogs’ owners are away for a few days or perhaps even a few weeks.
Some people providing doggie-boarding services via DogVacay are making $1,000 a month. Others are just supplementing their income and earning a few extra bucks here and there.
Rates at DogVacay start at $15 a day. But you get to set your own price in terms of your nightly charge for boarding a dog. The average price on DogVacay is $28 per night.
So if someone was taking a 7-day vacation this summer and paid you that $28 a night to take care of their pet, you could earn nearly $200. It’s like the Walmart cashback program, but in reverse – where you’re getting the rollbacks right into your pocket!
An Idea Born Out of Necessity
Aaron Hirschhorn and his wife Karine started DogVacay in March 2012, when the couple wanted to go on their honeymoon, but they didn’t want to put their dog in a kennel.
Their situation led them to come up with the idea of doing a test-run of home dog boarding out of their apartment, and they boarded 100 dogs in under a year.
Fast-forward a little more than a year later, and the Hirschhorn’s business idea has exploded. It now attracts hosts nationwide. All told, more than 90,000 doggie nights have been booked through DogVacay since the company’s 2012 launch.
But not just anyone can become a DogVacay host.
You have to complete an extensive online application, which is manually reviewed and approved by DogVacay.
The company says it has a highly selective host-vetting process, designed to make sure that only the best hosts are chosen. They also try to match up the right dogs with the hosts best suited to care for them.
Still, it’s not like you have to be a vet-in-training or an full-fledged animal rights activist to qualify. But it is essential that you actually have a love of dogs. After all, you’re going to be taking care of someone else’s baby – even though it is a four-legged member of the family.
People who sign up with DogVacay can also earn added credentials, if desired, by completing phone interviews and web trainings or by providing references and professional certifications such as pet first aid, CPR and medical boarding.
DogVacay currently has 10,000 hosts, and the service has paid out more than $2 million to its hosts since launching last year.
Finally, in case you were wondering: there is insurance protection for those involved.
DogVacay’s complimentary insurance covers guest dogs and the host’s resident dogs for the unlikely veterinary emergency. The company also has a Premium Insurance plan that provides professional grade protection for their most serious hosts. Check out DogVacay’s insurance detail page for complete information.
As for Madison, my teenage mentee, right now she may be a bit too young to board other people’s dogs full-time for an extended period — though she actually does very well with her own dog, Snowflake, an adorable white Bichon Frise.
But when Madison goes off to college — she currently has Cornell’s vet school in mind — I know where I’ll be pointing her to earn some extra bucks every summer when she’s free.