Raquel Gifford’s 7-year-old terrier mix, Zeek, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a puppy. Zeek’s condition inspired Gifford to explore starting her own business.
Gifford has catered to her dog’s medical needs for years and understands the importance of ensuring that four-legged family members are properly cared for when nobody else is home.
The experience inspired Gifford to start a business that provides personalized attention for pets while their owners are away. She is calling her business Dolphin Dog Walking and Pet Home Services, which primarily focuses on Broomfield and Westminster.
“I love animals and I wanted to start working with them,” she said, adding that she saw a void for fellow pet owners in the region.
“My husband and I, our whole world revolves around this dog,” she said.
The service list includes home visits to walk and/or feed dogs or cats, as well as yard cleanup for pet waste.
“I send texts at my arrival and departure time, plus I send pictures and updates in between,” she explained.
Average rates are $15 for a 15-30 minute walk or a half hour home visit to feed and care for dogs or cats.
Prior to taking on new clients Gifford requires an introductory home visit.
“My meet and greets are always free, because I want to make sure that we're both a good fit for each other,” she said.
The initial meeting is intended to establish a good working relationship with owners, but even more importantly with pets.
“That is my true client, and I want them comfortable with how we’re interacting,” she said. “I’m gonna be in your home, so I need you to trust me.”
Maintaining open lines of communication with pet parents is a crucial element for Gifford.
“It's important because that's your habitat and that's your precious little fur baby,” she said. “That way (owners) are comfortable while they're away from home.”
“What I've also done is incorporated (elder) human services as well,” she said.
Speaking on Tuesday, Gifford’s daily agenda included a stopover to do laundry for a 93-year-old resident.
“I once worked in health care and I really miss working with the elderly,” she said.
Helping seniors obtain groceries or fill prescriptions are just a few examples of tasks Gifford could tackle for those needing assistance.
“I do everything,” she said. “It says on my business card ‘just ask.’”
Despite the diversity, the main goal for Gifford is taking care of furry family members.
Although still getting Dolphin Dog Walking and Pet Home Services off the ground, Gifford hopes the business venture continues to solicit regional interest.
“It’s just taken off more and more,” she said. “I have enjoyed every minute and all the families that I've had the chance to work with.”