Cathy Klein is a freelance graphic designer who lives with three dogs and one man in a rental home in New Freedom, PA. She recently relocated there from Austin, TX, where she’d lived for nealry a decade. When preparing for the move, she found herself needing a graceful way to introduce her dogs –two German Shorthaired Pointers and a Vizsla — to prospective landlords. This resulted in a kind of change in focus for her career: She started creating pet resumes. I spoke to Cathy about the inspiration for her company, PetResumes.net:
I’ve been a renter for many, many years and I’ve always had pets. I created my first pet resume at least eighteen years ago, while living in Santa Barbara—a beautiful, desirable, but extremely un-pet-friendly city. I rented six different properties in the thirteen years that I lived there, and found it could take two or three months of searching to find a great rental property that would consider taking me and my fuzzy family. On a whim, I included a pet resume with one of my rental applications and noticed an immediate positive reaction. Having a pet resume lets potential landlords and rental agents know, in an instant, that you are a responsible and caring pet owner with friendly, well-behaved animals. Once I started using them, I began to sail through the application process faster than I ever thought possible.
I didn’t consider offering this service professionally until my recent relocation to the Pennsylvania/Maryland area. It’s a very competitive rental market, and my husband and I had to find a new home during a brief, three-day visit. We did find a rental home we loved, but there were at least a half dozen other people viewing it at the same time, and all of them were filling out applications! We were understandably concerned that the landlord might prefer renters who didn’t have three big dogs, but the agent was delighted with our latest pet resume, and sure enough, we were their first pick. A few weeks later, another friend from Texas was relocating with three cats and asked my advice. I showed him my resume, and he asked if I could create one for him. He got his first choice, too! It was then, that I realized there might be a market for this.”
WHAT SHOULD A PET RESUME INCLUDE?
We all love our pets, and we all have a million cute stories about them, but a pet resume is not the place for those stories. It’s important to remember that you aren’t necessarily introducing your pets to another animal person. Your potential landlord may not own pets, or even like them. You are selling yourself as a responsible, considerate pet owner. The rest of the world can’t possibly love your animals as much as you do. Your pets may be family, but you need to show they are well-behaved, non-destructive, and, above all, taken care of.
It’s important to be brief and reassuring. Landlords or rental agents are busy people. Give them what they need at a glance. The pet’s name, sex, breed, age, and weight are no-brainers, but be sure to mention obedience training. If your animal is of a certain breed, or over the dreaded twenty five-pound weight limit, that can be critical. Also mention your pet is non-destructive, with no bad habits. If you have multiple pets, include a paragraph about how well they get along and love to play.
I always recommend adding any info regarding obedience training, tricks, or special certifications—these are a big plus. It shows that not only is your dog is well-behaved, but that you are involved with your animal and willing to put time and energy into training them. If your pet doesn’t have any professional training you can even add information about your own routine: “My typical day includes a 40 minute walk with Mom, followed by a focused, snack-based session of obedience training.” Grooming practices can be another great thing to add, as well.
The good resume will reflect each animal’s personality. But, In essence, a pet resume isn’t about how wonderful your animals are, but about how YOU take care of them and how involved YOU are with their lives. I’ve seen resumes that go on about how cute “Fluffy” is, and even as I pet lover, I find them so boring it’s difficult to read the whole thing. Remember: Keep It Simple.
Klein’s pet resumes are custom made and cost $69. To order one, you need only fill out a brief questionnaire at PetResumes.net. Here are a couple of her recent efforts: