Second Generation Pet–Sitter Loves Caring for Animals
Interview by Kim Roe
One of the downsides of owning animals is finding someone reliable to care for them when we are away. This is especially true with horses; we can’t just leave the care and feeding to the neighbor kid. Horses need someone who understands both the dangers of horses and how fragile they are.
Caretakers need to have the ability to notice if a horse isn’t drinking or if the hay is a little “off”. They need to have the ability to halter, lead, change blankets, pick hooves, and know when a veterinarian needs to be contacted.
Kim Sandberg of is that kind of person. She runs her pet-sitting business, Pet Pleasers, in Whatcom County, near Bellingham. The Northwest Horse Source interviewed her about her life as a pet-sitter.
How did you get started in the pet-sitting business?
I got involved through my mom. She started the business in 1989. I helped her on-and-off all those years, plus I was training a few horses then. It was natural to take it over after she passed away last year. My mother was one of the first pet–sitters in Whatcom county. Now my son helps me with the business.
How long have you been in the pet–sitting business?
I reopened it officially last year. I helped my mother with the business for more than 20 years.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I get up at 4:00 a.m. and feed horses by 5:00. If I have two farms, I go directly to the next. Then I come home, feed my own dogs and any others that I’m caring for at my place. I play with the dogs during the day. Most horses get fed twice a day, as do dogs. If a client wants horses fed lunch, I’ll go back at 11:00 a.m. It’s a seven day a week job!
Where do you do your work?
Throughout Whatcom County. Mostly it’s central county, where I’m located. Some dogs come from Bellingham.
Tell me about your own animals.
I own three dogs: a t\Toy Schnauzer named Kailua, a Mini-Schnauzer called Luka, and a Pug that was my mom’s – Sir Pugglesworth. Luka is the oldest, but most playful. Kailua I rescued from a puppy mill. Pugglesworth sleeps a lot and is my 20-year-old son’s favorite.
What do you love about your job?
I love everything about my job! Animals have always been my life—both dogs and horses. I like playing with them, feeding them, keeping an eye out for problems, etc. I have fed horses every morning since I was 7. There’s something about them that’s magical.
What is frustrating or difficult about your job?
I love what I do. I aim to do it for years to come. Frustrating? When schedules get mixed up, or I misunderstand a client. I have things streamlined now so that doesn’t happen much. (Thank you, Mom!)
What kind of horse training did you do?
I started horses. Barb Hento taught me for years. I can’t train anymore due to an injury, though I do still exercise them some. I mostly rode English, but I’ve turned out some nice Western horses as well.
What are your goals for your business?
Just to supplement my income, and to continue to be around the animals. I feel it’s my destiny. I love doing it and the money is a bonus. I would like to be busy every week. I am saving for a house that I can fix up so horses can stay with me too. I plan on offering transport, as well.
Anything else you’d like the readers of the Northwest Horse Source to know about you?
I have experience standing in for a veterinary technician and can give shots to both small and large animals. I can tell when the vet is needed. I’m a supplement expert for horses. I want people to know I do exclusive stays at my house for dogs. I can take them in or visit their homes for horses. I’m licensed and bonded.
Kim Roe grew up riding on the family ranch and competed in Western rail classes, trail horse, reining, working cow, and hunter/jumper. She trained her first horse for money at 12 years old, starting a pony for a neighbor.
Kim has been a professional dressage instructor in Washington state for over 30 years, training hundreds of horses and students through the levels. In recent years Kim has become involved in Working Equitation and is a small ‘r’ Working Equitation judge with WE United.
Kim is the editor of the Northwest Horse Source Magazine, and also a writer, photographer, and poet. She owns and manages Blue Gate Farm in Deming, Washington where she continues to be passionate about helping horses and riders in many disciplines.