Gigging: It’s a dog’s life.

“How did I get here?” I moaned as Bailey licked my face. R

My dog, Bailey. Compared to other dogs he really is a saint.

It was the day after Christmas. I was horribly sick with the flu. My ankle was swollen from following down the stairs. I was watching four dogs that did not get along. One had just bitten me when breaking up a dog fight. I felt like I was in an episode of Bridget Jone’s Diary except Hugh Grant looked positively selfless compared to the guy I was dating. The day after Christmas…lying on the floor…surrounded by dogs…crying my eyes out.

Welcome to the world of gigging.

Gigging – when one hustles for incidental work to make a living.

In today’s economy, people are finding themselves supplementing their income or “gigging” to pay the rent. I found myself in just such a position after being let go from my job three weeks earlier. I gave myself a little pity party before drawing up a plan to create income while looking for long-term employment. After trying a number of avenues (each one its own adventure) I ended up focussing on Rover, AirBnB, and AirBnB Experience for short-term income. I will talk about Rover and cover the other experiences in follow-up posts.


Rover is a dog and cat care App that connects owners to sitters. It is fairly easy to sign up. You just fill out a form, get a background check, and have them verify your identity. Congratulations, you are now an official animal care provider. You can set up your own account preferences on dog boarding, drop-in visits, or doggie day care. You set your prices, how many animals you will take, and what days you will work. You have control over your business. Doggie Day Care earns between $30 – $50 dollars, boarding is $40 – $60, and drop-ins are usually about $20. Unless it is the holidays when prices can double.

Rover provides a LOT of material on how be successful, none of which I read. I set up my account to allow 4 dog boarding and 4 drop-in visits per day. Surely I can watch four dogs at one time. My own dog is not that hard (I now realize my dog is a saint). How hard can three or four more be? Drop-in visits will be easy; I water and feed the cat then sit there for 25 minutes and read a book. Easy money.

I opened my profile and within days was fully booked. Everyone was looking for long-term boarding as they prepared for the holidays. I snuggled down with my dog while visions of dollar signs danced through my head.

I will let you in on little a secret. People who wait until the last minute to secure animal care are not the best owners…and neither are their animals. The first dog was sweet and confirmed my belief that this was going to be easy. The second dog started “marking” my walls and furniture. The third dog barked so much that neighbors complained, and the forth was not house broken. The cats were almost as bad. For the next three weeks it was a steady stream of cleaning up dog sh**, cat vomit, and breaking up fights while sick with the flu. It will be a holiday season not soon forgotten.

In the end, I made Rover work for me. I learned to treat dog care clients with the same ruthlessness as on-line dating. I screen clients more thoroughly and said no if there were any red flags. I quickly found a dog owner who wanted steady doggie day care. Another owner needed to board his dog for business trips. Both were older, well-trained dogs that fit easily into my daily life and became part of my family.

Bottom line, Rover is great if you start slow, vet your customers, and establish a regular clientele. If you want to dog walk, use Rover On Demand as a way to access customers that you can covert to the Drop-In model. With the right dogs it really can be easy.


  1. Sorry if I chuckle😜. That was our business for 12.5 years. We never had less than 4 dogs and as much as 27 one night. We averaged 7 every day all those years. I watched many people do the math in their head a decide this was a quick cash opportunity. I eventually boarded those dogs too. Animal Care is a skill especially when it involves paying clients with strange dogs. We were great at our business but some of the things you mention….and it can and will occasionally be worse (peeing on your mattress/down comforter, explosive diarrhea all over the sofa and dog injury that has you at the vet at 2am are just a few) eventually caused us to give it up permanently. Good Luck. It definitely has some great perks. If you need tips let me know.


    • Brian,

      You were the KING of dog watching! I remember how crazy it would get, but desperate times called for desperate measures and yes, I needed some quick cash. I lived through it and learned some lessons. Turns out I am great with seniors who need special accommodations but are lower in energy. I now have just a few special needs dogs that are quickly becoming part of the family.
      PS….No exploding dog diarrhea but I did have an exploding long-haired cat diarrhea moment.


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