How this retired couple is supporting their community with their yard

hal and colleen

Hal and Colleen haven’t had dogs of their own for a while. Having shared their home with canine companions for 35 of their 42 years together as a couple, the big yard at their house began to feel a bit empty, but adopting a new dog simply isn’t in the cards for now. “We’ve had dogs almost all of our life,” Hal said. “When we both retired we started traveling more and we’d be gone for a month, so it really wasn’t feasible to have another dog.” 

Regardless of their time available for a dog of their own, the couple knew they could still put their beautiful outdoor space to good use while simultaneously offering a helpful service to their neighbors and get to enjoy the company of canines. “We have a big yard here — we don’t have any kids, we don’t have any dogs, and so we might as well use that for something,” he said. “And then we saw a Sniffspot flyer at my brother in law’s house, so I thought, why not?”

Managing expectations for the better 

The pair went into the venture not having known any other hosts with the service, and had no expectations around the experience. “We started it last year without any idea how it would go,” he said. “We didn’t know anything about it so we just learned it as we went.” Keeping an open mind and a positive outlook, the couple’s hosting took off pretty quickly thanks to positive guest experiences and word of mouth referrals, and has earned them almost $5,500 in income so far. “One person came and then a couple more and then as time went on we became extremely popular,” he explained. “Most weekends we’re completely booked. It’s just really snowballed, which is fine with us because almost all of our customers are repeat people and they know the routine. 90 to 95% of our people are repeat guests.” 

Part of offering an exceptional experience is allowing guests to use their time in the yard however they please — with privacy and safety being Hal’s top concerns in terms of customer service. “The yard is fully fenced, and I use four foot by eight foot white lattice on six foot tall metal posts to section off the yard,” he said. “We meet first time visitors at the front door, and I’ve got some signs out about where to go in the yard, where to drop off the poop bags, and where to find the water. There are table and chairs out there so we just let them come in the yard. We’ll say ‘hi’ if we see them but let them have the yard to themselves. I don’t really have to do anything.” 

Interested in hosting?

Learn more here about how your land can help dogs and you can earn up to $1,000 per month!

Using their yard for good 

Beause this pair loves to travel together so much, adding a new dog to their life may not be practical, but this couple loves to see any canine friends using their space to enjoy the great outdoors. “We’ve been here at our home in Federal Way for 44 years now. It’s about an acre and I’ve sectioned it off so the dogs have about half an acre,” he said. “Some dogs just go completely crazy here which is fun to watch, and the owners we’ve had here have been good people — they’re just really happy to see a place like this because they were so unsatisfied with the off leash areas.” 

Recognizing a preference to have private spaces to run and work with their dogs became apparent to Hal almost immediately, and he welcomes all types of dogs to his home so that they may have their individual needs met. “A lot of people have dogs that are reactive and would never take him to a dog park, so we let them over here,” he said. “We also have people whose dog trainers are sending them here, and they work with their dogs out in the yard, or rescue dogs from other parts of the country or from overseas. They want an area where once they let them off the leash they know they’re not just going to run off.” 

While pretty successful from the start, Hal credits his achievements to two simple aspects — a secure yard, and good advertising. “We have a big yard and make sure it’s safe with a six-foot tall fence,” he said. “And we have lots of good pictures of the place. So some of these other places are little backyards, and the pictures aren’t very flattering, so if I had to give advice I would tell anyone posting on Sniffspot to take some good pictures, because people want to know what it looks like.”  

Making things easy with Sniffspot 

One thing Hal and his wife appreciate about Sniffspot is the safety it provides, especially when inviting strangers to his home. “We have friends that wouldn’t use Craigslist because they’re afraid of letting somebody come to their house,” he said. “But when people show up with their dogs using Sniffspot, they’re kind of verified by Sniffspot, and they have to have a bank account and know how to use the site. So we don’t worry about any of that.” Additionally, last minute bookings and cancellations are easily done through the site as well, which takes the burden off of him to be available if he’s not. “If people cancel the only way I know that something is going on is if I get an email,” he said. “Sniffspot does all of that.” 

Plans for the future 

With new fencing separating parts of his yard and a steady roster of repeat clients visiting their yard, the only plans this couple has in their immediate future is to take a long vacation, while still earning as they relax far away from home. “We’re leaving for Puerto Vallarta for a three week vacation and I’ve decided to leave the yard open,” he explained. “I could block it off, but we’ve got some people that are close by who are going to watch the yard for me and I have things set up.” When they come back home, the yard will open up to longer hours to coincide with the daylight. “Everything’s been really nice, we’ve met some nice people and are looking forward to summer time coming where each day or each week I can open it up further,” he added. “Now have the yard open till 7:00 o’clock and pretty soon I’ll move that to 8:00 or 9:00. So when people are off work, they can still come here.” 

Interested in hosting?

Learn more here about how your land can help dogs and you can earn up to $1,000 per month!

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