A PAWS-ITIVE PRESSURE—DOCTORATE AND DOG

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A PAWS-ITIVE PRESSURE—DOCTORATE AND DOG

TARYN OKAMOTO • THE SPECTATOR

TARYN OKAMOTO • THE SPECTATOR

TARYN OKAMOTO • THE SPECTATOR

TARYN OKAMOTO • THE SPECTATOR

Nicole Golba, Sports and Opinion Editor

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Who doesn’t love the idea of getting paid to watch puppies—especially within the comfort of your own home?

In an increasingly digital day and age with pet parents working long hours, platforms such as Rover have taken the world by storm. A quick scroll through the site will quickly lead you to the highest recommended dog walkers and sitters in all of Seattle— one of whom is Gena Lusk.

With over 211 five-star reviews among many other accolades—not to mention being a full-time graduate student at Seattle University—Lusk somehow finds the time to manage it all. Her unequivocal love for animals as well as her goal of pursuing a higher education is no easy feat, but after discovering Rover she has been able to balance the two. Lusk explained how she first heard of the pet-care service, which quickly transformed her life.

“I looked into Rover and thought it would be amazing to do this and go to school because I could be at home, and I’d much rather do that than working 12-hour shifts like at my previous job. So, I made a profile.”

Lusk’s simple action quickly spiraled into a dream—and job—come true. “I’ve had dogs my entire life growing up. I have two dogs right now, and within a couple of hours, my phone was blowing up with requests. It’s been like a full-time job, but I really love it.” Rover, the nation’s largest network of five-star pet sitters and dog walkers, was originally founded in Seattle circa 2011. Advertised not only as a pet-care service, but also an award-winning technology business committed to making pet care safe, easy, and affordable, the platform is only growing with over 200,000 sitters and even more pet parents. What makes the untraditional job so appealing to busy people, especially full-time students like Lusk?

“I’m getting my doctorate at Seattle U in educational leadership, and I wanted a place where I could have more time to read and be at home. It offers a lot more flexibility, so I can take as much or as little as I want with booking. And I really love animals.”

Being a full-time student and animal lover requires a lot of dedication on various fronts. Whether that be in terms of overbooking pet stays, staying caught up with class readings, or breaking up a physical dog fight, the demands are far and wide. Lusk expanded on the issue, mentioning some problems she has faced over the years but also what she has learned from them.

“I really overbook myself—I don’t want to tell anyone no. I take last- minute requests and a lot of repeat clients. I think the biggest challenge was when I had two dogs get in a fight that were the same owner’s pets. It was scary and ended up costing a lot of money, but it was a learning experience. I have to be really mindful and be careful.”

The job proves worthwhile, however. The ability to not just host a plethora of dogs within her home but be able to devote attention to her studies simultaneously makes all the hassle and potential problems worth it. Rover offers both dog walking and sitting, but Lusk mainly sticks to sitting now since it offers her the flexibility her studies demand.

“I can study…There was a lot of going back and forth when I was walking dogs. I try to keep it in my neighborhood, but it has been difficult. But the thing about not having to physically be somewhere for 8 to 12 hours has been really nice and has allowed me to get through school.”

It’s no doubt Lusk thrives through Rover. But what happens once she achieves her lifetime goal of a doctorate degree in educational leadership? Lusk mentioned that although she will graduate and move onto bigger and better things, dogs will always have a place in her home.

“There’s a couple of dogs I could never give up…I told them I’m always available on weekends. I think I’ll always want to do it to an extent.”

Ultimately, Rover provides Lusk and about 200,000 other animal enthusiasts a chance to balance a full- time job with busy lives. Through countless dogs met and even more memories made, it’s hard for Lusk to pick out any specific favorite moment. The joy the job brings her—and her canines—is hard to beat.

“I think so many of them are my favorite. I have a goldendoodle and a little maltese so we’re just so happy with this life and with other dogs.”

Nicole may be reached at
[email protected]