June 25, 2005
Section: Arizona Living


Maura J. Halpern, The Arizona Republic

Six months ago, Lisa Kolp’s relationship with Christy, her black Pomeranian, and Blossom, a pint-size Chihuahua, helped make her dream come true.


With inspiration from her four-legged family members, the 20-year-old launched a professional pet-sitting business, Pick of the Litter Pet Sitting.

Kolp, who lives in Scottsdale with her husband and the two dogs, quit her commercial real estate job in January. She took a leap of faith and a large chunk of her savings to start the business.

“At first, I was completely discouraged,” said Kolp, with a content Blossom sleeping on her lap. “But I needed to leave my schedule open for that first client to come along, and my husband never let me give up.”

Her original marketing plan didn’t raise her optimism. After sending 300 fliers to households in Scottsdale, she received only one phone call. Kolp decided to post an ad on a free, city-specific online listing and message-board service, and clients started coming out of the woodwork. She also took an exam and received a certification license from the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.

By Memorial Day, she had a steady schedule of clients.

The summer months are busiest for professional pet-sitters because of vacations and the fact that boarding pets sometimes causes guilt for animal lovers, who are also hesitant to impose the responsibility on friends.

“Some animals do well at kennels; it can be like going to camp,” said Kay Calzolari, operations director for Pet Sitters International, a for-profit educational organization for professional pet-sitters. “But for some pets, it can be traumatic. Animals are creatures of habit and when their routine is interrupted, they don’t enjoy it.”

This reason is at the core of why the professional pet business is taking off.

“People consider their pets children and we always want the best for them,” Calzolari said. “This often means not taking them out of their familiar surroundings.”

PSI estimates people in the United States spend more than $30 billion each year on their pets. In addition to food and vaccinations, professional pet-sitting makes up a portion of the expenses.

Kolp can’t imagine life without Blossom and Christy, who can usually smell other pets on her when she returns home from jobs. Her business caters to clients’ needs, which range from daily visits to live-in stays at homes.

She’s getting ready for a three-week stay at a Scottsdale home to watch a Shih Tzu, and in August, she’ll watch a dog, cat and three desert tortoises in one home.

“I really feel blessed because a lot of my friends have no idea what they want to do,” Kolp said. “Now that I’m getting to do this, it has just reiterated my love for animals. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

For information on Pick of the Litter Pet Sitting, call (480) 296-4171 or e-mail

Reach the reporter at (602) 444-8671.