When Shannon Cole of Carpentersville started looking for assistance in managing the growing clientele at Shannon's Pet Sitting, a fellow pet-care business owner offered help.
It was supposed to be a short-term solution while Cole found someone permanent. But soon, the two found each of their businesses benefited from the companionship. Cole brought on Sally Kazanis of Carpentersville, owner of Mustang Sally Horse and Pet Sitting, as a full-time administrative assistant.
Kazanis has maintained her own business, and the two have filled in for each other when they can't get to specific jobs.
"We each have our own specialties and we can refer to each other and learn from each other," Cole said. "It's worked out beautifully. It couldn't have worked any better."
Cole specializes in special needs animals, specifically cats and dogs, while Kazanis works with horses and does animal massage therapy. Both Cole and Kazanis will care for just about any animal if the owner gives them a good idea of the care needed beforehand.
But in general, each has their area of expertise. Cole works with animals that have behavioral and health issues.
She's been caring for pets since she started a dog-walking business for extra cash at age 13.
"With the work I do, it takes a lot of patience, a lot of compassion, and a lot of understanding," she said. "An animal does something for a reason. You just have to figure out what that reasoning is and from there it's smooth sailing."
Much of her ability to cope with special needs animals come from years of experience – she started Shannon's Pet Sitting in 1998, and before spent time at a veterinary clinic and animal emergency center.
She's always had some level of natural connection to pets, but dealing with overly aggressive or particularly shy animals is a learned skill, Cole said.
One dog she currently looks after is more territorial than most, and won't let strangers in the house without showing serious aggression.Yet, Cole has had success calming her down.
"I can take her for walks around the block," she said. "Her owners can't even take her for walks around the block."
Kazanis has a calming presence with animals as well, though her training doesn't extend to special needs animals.
Instead, Kazanis is trained to relax animals – horses and dogs, specifically – through massage therapy.
"It's the same when people go for massages. It's the same benefits," she said. "It's so amazing to see the response. I get so into it I almost lose track of time because of how the horse responds. ... One time, I had a horse drooling on me."
In addition to massage therapy, Kazanis has regularly provides care to horses and other pets. She started her business in 2008, pursuing what she loved for the first time as a business venture.
Her dream is to have her own horse farm, but working with animals in the interim has been great, she said.
Cole, who in addition to operating her pet-care business works full-time for an insurance company, has a similar love for what she's doing.
"I could never give it up," she said. "If I was told it was against the law to get paid for pet sitting, I'd do it for free. There's no way I could give it up. I'm addicted to it."
Shannon's Pet Sitting:
What: Pet sitting business that specializes in care for special needs animals.
Where: Serving the southern portion of McHenry County including Algonquin, Cary and Fox River Grove.
Information: Call 847-987-4322 or visit www.shannonspetsitting.net
Mustang Sally's Horse and Pet Sitting:
What: Horse and other pet sitting business offering massage therapy for horses and dogs.
Where: Serving the McHenry County area
Information: Call 708-309-1316 or visit www.mustangsallyhorseandpetsitting.com