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Nina turned her love of animals into a business after a brush with death

Guest article by Nina

My love of animals began at an early age and as I reached maturity I was always searching for ways in which I could utilise my passion.

It was not however, until my early thirties that I decided the path in which I would embark.  Dogs of various breeds and sizes had always been a fixture in our house and dog psychology had always been of great interest to me.  I had neither the brains nor temperament to become a vet, so when I was accepted by Whipsnade Wild Animal Park to conduct a study of wolves in captivity, I felt that I had taken my first steps into a job of my choice.

Life however, has a funny way of turning your world upside down however and when my husband was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and some 5 months later I suffered a brain haemorrhage our lives were to change forever.

A near death experience taught me that life was short

My near death experience, had taught me that life was indeed short and that every waking moment should count.  My dream of working with animals was stronger than ever and my hobby of caring for friends and neighbours pets while they were away, seemed an enticing way to make a living.

I had seen firsthand, the travel trauma experienced by cats on their way to a cattery and the woe begotten look on a dog’s face, as they were waved goodbye by their owners, as they were lead into kennels and so it was, that Nina’s Nannies for pets was born.

I cannot pretend that it was as easy venture.  Pet sitting in nineties, although an established profession in the United States, was fairly unheard of in this country.  People were not so keen to invite a stranger into their home, be it on a visiting or live in basis!  Within months however, as our reputation grew, so did our business clientele. 

What started out as a husband and wife partnership, has now evolved into a limited company.  We act as an agency, but have a wonderful team of retired professionals who travel up and down the country providing a live in service for our clients.  It is not a job for the feint hearted, since we work a seven day week, every day of the year and such is the demand for our service,e that we are about to launch our franchise partnerships. 

Pet sitting is strictly a job for animal lovers

Pet sitting is strictly a job for dedicated animal lovers. Work does not stop on a Friday evening, to be returned to on Monday morning and there are no rest breaks to replenish our batteries! When the phone rings at 10 p.m. on a Sunday evening and its poor Granny who has forgotten her hip operation and is being hospitalised the following day, now panicking about little Kitty, sitting blissfully unaware in front of a roaring fire.

Oh and there is always Gertie the Guinea Pig, who has just been violently attacked by Roger the Rabbit, who has happily shared her enclosure for the previous 2 years. Why have they chosen the first day of your site to act out the Gunfight at the O.K. Coral!

It is a job that we do gladly, despite the responsibility and I hope that by franchising our business, we are taking a step towards seeing this industry regulated.  We are proud to be the only pet sitting company working with an on line training company to who offer two weeks experience with the RSPCA and an on line training course leading to accreditation or, the opportunity to continue the course to achieve a diploma. 

It is another venture that we are facing with gusto, despite my husband’s disability and I hope that our achievement helps to spur other people into achieving their dream. 

We are always looking for retired professionals to join our pet sitting team, feel free to contact us at ninasnanniesforpets.co.uk 


Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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  1. Julie C

    January 2, 2012

    What foresight you had in the nineties, as an animal lover myself I know how difficult it is to leave your pets in the care of others. I have two westies aged 15yrs and 6yrs, my parents have always cared for them if I was away, but since the death of my father my mum has her own dog and can only manage my older dog. We take drive holidays to France so Sasha can come with us, but if we wanted to go further afield we would not put her in kennels and therefore we don’t go away. I think what you have estabilished is brilliant, we live in Cheshire so we are out of your catchment area totally. Well done.

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