Ibrahim Otieno

Pet-sitter Ibrahim Otieno with one of his charges, a boerboel.

| Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

Going somewhere? I will take care of your beloved pet while you’re away

What you need to know:

  • Ibrahim Otieno developed an interest in dogs and cats at a young age.
  • His busiest months are November and December when most of his clients go on holiday.

There is baby-sitting, and then there is pet-sitting, and if you have not heard of the latter, then you have not met Ibrahim Otieno.

This 25-year-old will take care of your pet at a fee when you are at work or away on a trip. This is the only job he knows, and says he enjoys it.

Pet-sitting, which entails offering customised home-based care for pets is fast gaining popularity in the country, even though the job is nothing new in many countries, especially in the West where the job is common.

Ibrahim, a resident of Shabaab, Nakuru town West, developed an interest in domestic animals, especially dogs and cats, at a young age, and would often volunteer to walk and sit his relatives’ and neighbours’ pets.

While in high school, Ibrahim could spot well taken care of animals and those that were neglected, and would itch to improve their welfare.

Ibrahim Otieno

Ibrahim Otieno feeds a Rottweiler belonging to his client at Ngata in Nakuru on July 1, 2021.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

“I loved walking, playing and just sitting with dogs and cats during my free time, I decided to make it a job after I was paid for the first time,” he said.

That first time, he explains, was when a neighbour left his German Shepherd under his care and paid him Sh200 for the hour he baby-sat the dog.

“I realised that I could actually make money from this, and at that point, I decided to take my interest seriously, making it a side hustle. I knew it was going to be fun as well as earn me money - making money for just playing and keeping the dogs company, something I loved, yet I was still a student, was a good deal,” he says.

He would do the pet-sitting during the holidays, but when he completed high school, finding himself with lots of free time, he begun to actively look for people in the estates around his home area and through the help of friends.

He charges Sh700 per hour, per pet, which he plays with and takes for walks around the estate. On a good day, Ibrahim tends to at least eight pets, a number than can go up especially during the weekends, when pet owners are away on trips.

Ibrahim Otieno

Ibrahim Otieno plays with one of the dogs under his care. His love for dogs and cats started at a young age.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

But the rates go higher especially when it involves overnight care for the pet. He does the pet-sitting at his home in Shabaab Estate, where he has fenced a small section of the compound, where he locks the pets when the need arises.

Most pets, he explains, interact well with people, but there are those that are hostile and require isolation from time to time.

Apart from watching the pets, mostly cats and dogs, Ibrahim also feeds them. He also walks them and plays the role of compassionate companion when the owner is busy. 

A rub on the stomach for a cat, repeatedly throwing a chew toy to a dog, changing their litter and monitoring how they respond to their environment is part of his job description.

In case a pet under his care falls sick, it is also his duty to call his client’s preferred veterinary doctor and sometimes when they are unreachable, one that he knows comes in handy.

“The client has to indicate the kind of food I am to feed the pet with, and in case of an emergency, I call a vet and take pictures and a video as the treatment is going on, which I send to the client,” he explains.  

Ibrahim Otieno

Ibrahim Otieno observing dogs in a kennel belonging to his clients.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

“When looking after more than four pets, I draw a timetable to make sure each pet gets enough time with me,” he adds.

The top-most concern clients have is that their pet will be secure while they are away, to reassure them, he and his client sign a document that lists what is expected of him while the pet is under his care.

His busiest months are November and December as this the period when most of his clients go on holiday.

“It is expensive to travel with a pet, hiring a pet-sitter is more affordable.”

Most of his clients are through referrals from previous clients as well as friends. He would want to expand his business, but getting clients from other areas within Nakuru town has been difficult.

Another challenge he encounters as he goes about his job is rude clients and others who look down on his job. Other than that, he is one happy pet-sitter.