Student begins independent pet-sitting business

Alex Trybus, owner of Auntie Alex’s Pet Sitting, takes Lincoln, a beagle mix, out for a walk in Mount Lebanon on Oct. 25.

November 7, 2017

Pets have always been an essential part of Alex Trybus’ life.

Growing up with Australian cattle dogs – Nicki and Jolene – helped her develop a desire to not only love and care for her own animals but for others as well.

As a student, Trybus needed a job that fit her busy schedule yet allowed the opportunity to dive into something she was passionate about.

Auntie Alex’s Pet Sitting, an independent business that fills 12 to 15 hours of Trybus’ week, developed out a dream to spend her free moments with furry friends in the neighborhood.

“I usually take them on little half-hour walks to get them some exercise,” Trybus said in an interview during a pet visit on Oct 24.  “Sometimes I’ll give them lunch or dinner or I’ll just play with them.”

Aaron Comport, Trybus’ boyfriend, usually tags along on her house visits once or twice a week. A dog owner himself, his black Labrador retriever / Great Dane mix is named Sheldon, after a main character in the television show Big Bang Theory.

“I think Alex loves my dog more than me sometimes,” Comport said with a laugh in a phone interview on Nov 1. “She had the drive to start her own business and I’m so proud of her for that.”

Trybus started her path to pet sitting by volunteering at the Western PA Humane Society in the West End.

“I walked dogs, played with them and made sure they were [social],” Trybus said. “I really, really enjoyed that.”

Wanting to branch into dog-walking professionally, Trybus signed up with Rover, a website that connects walkers with owners that need their dogs taken care of while they are out.

After working with Rover for a few months, Trybus was ready to take the leap and open her own business.

“A lot of my clients followed me from Rover, so that was really nice,”
Trybus said.

One of those clients is Brandon McCleary, a certified public accountant who resides in Moon Township with two dachshunds named Pepper and Tucker.

“She has a good relationship with the dogs,” McCleary said in a phone interview on Nov 1. “When I moved from Carnegie to Moon, I didn’t have enough time on my lunch break to go home to see them – she’s a great person to have around when you’re working all day.”

Trybus was nervous at first, because the app tracked where she would walk clients’ dogs.

“I was worried that it wasn’t going to be long enough or the right route, but I sent it over to them and they loved it,” Trybus said.

The job has its fair share of “feel-good moments,” according to Trybus.

“I have some lovely stories,” Trybus said. “I pet sit for one family that just adores me; they sent me a little Christmas card from the dogs and cats as a thank you.”

Pet sitting isn’t all puppy kisses and Christmas messages though – it’s a lot of responsibility, according to Trybus.

“His brother is one that likes to wander,” Trybus said gesturing to Tucker, a docile black Labrador retriever laying across her lap. “One time Ryder saw a deer in the woods and took off after it. It was winter, and I had to go get him and bring him back.”

When she’s not walking dogs, volunteering, in class or with her own pup, Trybus markets her business at vendor shows throughout the area.

“I sell little handmade dog treats [flavored] like peanut butter, banana and apple; people love them because they’re homemade,” Trybus said. “I have safety brochures too with tips on walking your dogs and keeping them safe and healthy.”

Auntie Alex’s Pet Sitting is an endeavor that brings Trybus one step closer to her dream.

“I think the end goal is owning my own dog boarding house,” Trybus said as Tucker licked her cheek. “I just love the idea of being with dogs and helping out when their owners are away.”

See this and more at The Globe.

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