How Sniffspot is Helping a Retired Vet Tech Keep Her Home

ellen

If you had told Ellen K. three years ago that renting her land to dogs would be a key part of affording her home, she wouldn’t have believed you. 

Ellen didn’t set out to become a Sniffspot Top spot host. In fact, she didn’t even know what the service was until an early supporter of the company told her about it. “A former student of mine was one of the original hosts for Sniffspot and told me about how it worked for her,” Ellen said. After thinking about it, Ellen, who has both animal care and business experience, realized that renting her yard to dog owners was actually a pretty good fit for her and her husband Jim’s lifestyle and skillset. “I retired from being a veterinary technician and educator to help run my husband’s business from home,” she explained. “Sniffspot lets me use some of my knowledge and skills and create an income stream at home.” 

Today, Ellen is one of the platform’s Top spot hosts, with almost 200 near-perfect reviews on her Country Pasture Getaway, located less than an hour’s drive from Seattle, and is enjoying the added connections, and income, it affords her. 

In fact, her spot income is a key part of affording her beautiful 10 acre property just outside booming Seattle.

A country getaway to keep coming back to 

Lush greenery, rolling hills, and wooded areas all in the same 4-acre space might sound like a dream location for any dog owner and their canine counterpart, and that’s exactly what Ellen’s Country Pasture has to offer. And as an added bonus, it’s all fenced in with recently upgraded, barbless chain link that reaches five feet in height, with no gaps or holes for curious dogs to wiggle out of. To keep things calm, quiet, and peaceful, rentals are limited to four dogs, and, like all Sniffspot bookings, time reserved is saved for one guest at a time.

Hosting made easy and effective 

Of course, inviting strangers onto your home is a common worry among new hosts, and Ellen was no exception. After meeting her guests, however, she found that the people looking to care for their dogs through Sniffspot’s services were warm, respectful, and just looking for a clean and quiet space they could count on to return to when needed. “I had some concerns about safety from guests that I did not know on my property,” she recalled. “It ends up that the average Sniffspot user is an uber-responsible person who is motivated to return to the sites they visit.” One way Ellen makes sure to keep hosting easy on herself, and her space, is to find a regimen and stick to it. For example, Ellen and Jim don’t allow last minute bookings, and always require 24 hours to reserve a slot. The rules and regulations for visiting her space are clearly stated on her page, and she works with guests to find a resolution first if anything is overlooked. “If something is not followed, I first remind the guest. If it persists, I will contact David to reinforce the message,” she explained. “We have had one guest in all these years who disrespected our property and I worked with David to not have a repeat visit. They never returned.”

Interested in hosting?

Learn more here about how your land can help dogs and you can earn up to $1,500 per month!

Communication is key  

“Good communication with guests and keeping your calendar tight is the most important thing to be successful. You learn to live with your phone and check your calendar regularly,” she said. Some potential hosts may be tempted to promise exceptional amenities, like say an agility course or pool, but according to Ellen, it’s not what you have that keeps people coming, it’s honesty. “The number of amenities you have isn’t the big draw — it’s being accurate about what you have and what you don’t. That way guests can make good choices for their dogs,” she added. Amenities at Ellen’s spot include items for dogs to enjoy, like a hose, a pesticide-free lawn, and short grass, as well as things to keep their people comfortable, such as a picnic bench and off-street parking. Being upfront and honest about what you can and cannot provide to a pet owner has helped create amazing experiences for everyone involved, allowing renters to find the right fit for them, and Ellen to generate satisfied repeat guests. Additionally, asking for special requests in advance allows Ellen to take considerations to keep everyone safe, comfortable, and feeling welcome. This can be especially helpful for people looking to exercise dogs who might be reactive to other dogs or people, and may not get to enjoy socializing in dog parks or day care-like settings. “This takes quite a bit of coordination and time but I take special requests for very reactive dogs. If someone contacts me 48 hours in advance, I’ll ask my neighbors to keep their dog inside during a visit,” she explained. “I also can keep my dogs inside thru the whole visit. Jim and I can avoid being outside during the visit.” 

Making improvements with her guests’ support 

Ellen has been able to improve her property both through funding with income from her spot and through actual on the ground support from her community of Sniffspot guests.

Using income from her spot, Ellen has made a few recent changes to the space to keep visits safe and comfortable for her, her neighbors, and her guests. “We added more significant fencing to allow smaller dogs to come to our spot without concerns,” Ellen said, using income earned from her Sniffspot to fund such upgrades, simultaneously making her rental that much more attractive to potential guests. “We also added a buffer fence to put a 30 foot buffer next to our neighbor’s property to reduce conflicts with their excitable dog.” 

Keeping things clean and ready for visitors is another area Ellen has sought help with, and thanks to the strong bonds created through the Sniffspot community, a few of her repeat visitors help her when needed. “They have become my partners in making sure my field is clean and ready. Again, good communication has solved so many problems.” Some recent changes to Ellen’s health have also forced her to make some minor changes to how she typically likes to do things around her spot. For starters, meeting quests for a quick intro and check in at the start of each visit isn’t a possibility, so she’s had to rely on other forms of communication. “Our guests now are pretty self-serve since my health deteriorated and I can’t meet my guests when they arrive. Lots of signage and I check the field through some of my regular guests,” Ellen explained. 

A bright future in creating safe spaces for dogs  

Ellen and Jim’s space has been an added benefit to their lives, both personally and monetarily, the latter of which is helpful in the booming Western Washington location he pays taxes in. “The income has been very helpful as we move into retirement, and this helps pay our real estate taxes,” Ellen said of her hosting endeavors. “We also do any repairs to fencing and upgrades out of our Sniffspot funds.”  

In addition to the income, structure, and services they provide to their community, Ellen says that there’s one thing that outweighs all of it when she thinks about her favorite part of hosting. “Meeting people and getting great feedback is the best,” she said. “We’ve made friends that will last beyond Sniffspot. Plus, just seeing dogs enjoy our spot. I could watch for hours!“

Interested in hosting?

Learn more here about how your land can help dogs and you can earn up to $1,500 per month!

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