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People & Pets

Pet sitter snuggler

4/1/2020

When Abby Strong gets up in the morning, she pours herself a cup of coffee, awaiting her morning pick-me-up. It’s not only the caffeine that gives her a jolt, but it’s the plopping of three cats on her lap who eagerly anticipate their morning cuddle session.

Her three rescued cats, Luke, 13, Cole, 13, and Lucy, 5, provide Strong with furry companionship. Due to her love of animals, Strong recently opened her own fulltime pet-sitting business.

She grew up with dogs at home, including a German wirehair, which her dad took hunting. Then, at age 18, she brought home a kitten.

“Ever since then, I fell in love with cats,” she says.

After college, she became a nanny. Her passion with kids and animals took her one step further, and she began volunteering with the Animal Rescue League. There, she assists with programs in the Des Moines Schools and preschools, educating kids about animal safety.
She instructs children to ask the owner — and the animal — if it’s OK to pet them. She also facilitates ARL children’s camps.

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“I’m very passionate about animal welfare and talking about the importance of helping care for animals until they are adopted by forever families,” she says.

Because of her love of animals, Strong finally took the plunge to become a full-time pet sitter.

“I wanted to do it for years,” she says. “I decided to just go for it. I wasn’t sure what to expect.”

Her business, Auntie Abby’s Professional Pet Sitting service, has taken off. She goes beyond that of a typical pet sitter, who might hire a teen to scoop food in pet’s bowl. For her service, Strong is bonded and insured. She’ll stay overnight, drop by to walk a dog, bring in the mail or administer meds. Her logo says it all: “Your pet’s family — when you can’t be.”

“Pets respond better when they’re cared for at home,” she says. “I treat them like they’re my own. I often send pics of their pets to my clients.”

The pets remember her, too. Once they see her, tails start wagging excitedly. Strong says her pet sitting job is rewarding because she’s around animals all day.

“It’s the best feeling. I always leave with a good feeling, that I did something that mattered,” she reflects. “It’s good to be around like-minded people who also love their animals.”

Strong’s pipe dream is to open an animal sanctuary where she could take in “all the animals she could.” Animals lift her up, provide enjoyment.

“They bring me a sense of joy and calm. I’ll come home after a long day, and they’re happy to see me. Snuggling with them is pure goodness,” she says. ♦

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