Amy Woldrich is traveling across the country in an RV, staying in a new city every month or two (she is currently in Austin, Texas). And she's able to do it thanks to her flexible and lucrative side gig as a dog walker for Rover.
Dog-walking apps are big business: Wag raised $300 million in January; Australia-based Mad Paws recently received $5 million from Qantas Airlines; and Rover, which features on-demand drop-in visits and doggy day care, options other apps currently do not have, raised $125 million in a private equity round led by T. Rowe Price in May.
The selection process to be a dog walker is strict (Wall Street Journal compared getting a dog walking job to getting into Harvard), but once you're in, you can make a comfortable living.
"If you're self motivated and willing to put the hours in, there are plenty of dogs that need to be walked," Woldrich, 35, tells CNBC Make It. "I was speaking with a friend recently who was able to buy a house using her Rover income alone."
With her husband, Jackson, 32, a handyman with Task Rabbit, Woldrich has been on the road for 11 months, having hit Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada; Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; and El Paso, Texas so far. She has plans to travel for a year (next stop: New Orleans).
In addition to being a freelance pet photographer, Woldrich makes between $100 and $350 a week, walking between three to six dogs a day for about 30 minutes each, though she says full-time dog walkers can make a lot more.
It's enough to keep their journey going. "Expenses on the road are minimal," Woldrich says. "We no longer have car payments and our 'rent' for the places we park are usually between $300 to $600 a month, and they often include utilities." She says one of their biggest expenses is repairs, like putting in a new air conditioning unit in their vehicle that cost nearly $700.
But dog-walking via Rover helps cover it. "There are some weeks where it's not out of the question to make well over $1,000 in a week," Woldrich says, if the demand is there. "Back in December, I was able to bring in $1,200 just during a five-day stretch, sitting and walking three to ten dogs a day." She adds typically those high money-making weeks are around holidays.
Because Woldrich moves to a different city every month, she says the downside is losing repeat clientele and having to start over again with new dogs. "The longer I'm in a city, the more services I'm able to book from repeat clients alone."
Woldrich likes Rover because it's one of the few jobs she can pick up in any city she travels to. "When we arrived in Phoenix, I was working by the next afternoon. I can't think of many other jobs that I qualify for where that's possible." (Rover is available in more than 10,000 cities throughout the US and Canada.)
Woldrich says the hiring process was daunting. "They ask questions about your experience and need testimonials from previous clients. There's also a background check, identity check and test that you have to complete before they'll make your profile live."
Jen Tserng, another dog walker, started with Rover to supplement her income as a medical examiner. She has since moved from Seattle to New York City in 2015, where she now only works with Rover full time.
"I don't pay rent here," Tserng tells CNBC Make It. "I house and pet sit through through Rover for lodging... in million-dollar homes.
"And since I don't pay rent, my overhead is minimal," she says. "If I make an average $50 a night house-sitting, it covers my expenses, about $1,500 a month. My rates start at $50 an hour, which, if I were to bill for 40 hours a week, that would be around $96,000 annually. But I don't want to work that much. I'm not rich, but I am definitely living very comfortably."
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