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With the holiday season creating chaos in everyone’s schedule, Milwaukee area pet owners have come to rely on a popular dog-sitting service for assistance with caring for their pets.

Rover.com dog

Photo by Wendy Welsh

Founded in 2011, Rover describes itself as “the nation’s largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.” The service operates through both website and mobile app platforms, allowing pet owners to locate individuals in their communities who are able to provide various services — such as dog walking and pet sitting (both in the sitter’s home and the pet owner’s, depending on the preference of both). A key feature of the company is the ability for pet owners to browse the profiles of available sitters, as well as have conversations with them directly prior to booking to answer any questions they may have or provide specific instructions for the care of their dog.

Rose Kolupar, of New Berlin, has previously used the service for her dogs and had great results — particularly with high-energy dog, Zoe.

“We were looking for someone who loved dogs and would care for ours as if they were their own. Our dog Zoe doesn’t get along well with other dogs, and people are often turned off by her boundless energy,” Kolupar said. “The girl who came to watch our pups was absolutely amazing with both of our dogs, but especially with Zoe. She sent us pictures throughout the weekend, along with updates. We felt like our dogs had as good a weekend as we did!”

Sarah Marfurt, of Watertown, also relies on Rover for help with the needs of her new puppy.

“I found Rover online and tried it out. They have been great! Our dog walker is reliable and professional. I love the updates that I get from them daily,” Marfurt said.

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Wendy Welsh, of Milwaukee, has been a Rover sitter for three years now. After being involved with various animal rescue groups as a foster parent, she began looking for additional opportunities that would allow her family (which includes her husband, two daughters and a nine-year-old Shih Tzu named JJ) to experience having additional dogs in the home.

Rover.com dog

Photo by Wendy Welsh

“I love (our dog) JJ — we rescued him about 3 1/2 years ago. Watching him come out of his shell and show his true personality was one of the most fun things to experience as a family.  But he is an older dog and grouchy sometimes. He doesn’t kiss, and he is just now starting to want pets and love — but only on his own terms,” Welsh said. “Rover lets us experience dogs that are totally different than JJ. We’ve been able to watch so many different types and ages of dogs. My kids know just about every breed of dog. And when I forget which dogs we have watched, they remember every single name and personality. Rather than get a second dog who will annoy JJ all of the time, this lets us ‘have’ many different dogs!”

The flexibility that Rover allows compliments Welsh’s schedule very well, she currently works part-time at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee’s College of Nursing. Welsh primarily focuses her services on both day and overnight pet sitting. While she tries to only “have” one dog at a time, she does occasionally make exceptions. Welsh estimates she has roughly six or seven regular clients that contact her for services.

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Rover’s growth in recent years has resulted in a surge of pet sitters available. As the service allows each individual sitter to set their own fees, many individuals view this as an opportunity to make a little extra money by opening their home to a dog for a few days. Welsh agrees that being a dog sitter does have some financial benefits, but noted that her family’s enjoyment of dogs is what drives her to continue offering services.

“After a while, these dogs aren’t strangers. They’re part of our family — it’s just that we see them once in awhile,” Welsh said.

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