Here we have Bella Vasta.
Bella is one of the hardest working women in the business. She created Bella’s House & Pet Sitting in 2002 – directly after college – and quickly succeeded in becoming a full service pet sitting business.
Her entrepreneurial spirit has turned ‘Bella’s’ into the recipient of the 2007 National Pet Sitting Business Of The Year Award.
She knows how to network and has been interviewed on countless shows including NPR and Martha Stewart’s Cat Chat Radio airing on Sirus Satellite Radio.
But make no mistake…
Bella’s top priority is, and always has been, her commitment to the client’s ‘fur baby.’
As evident in this episode of Super Hero Sitters, Bella shows us the real reason her pet sitting business is a leader in the industry.
Transcript Of Today’s Video
up about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happy pets.
My name is Joshua Cary, co-founder of The Association of Pet Sitting Excellence, the
APSE. In this series, we follows professional pet sitters who have stories to share that
may sound heroic, but really were all just carried out without a second thought and as
we’ll hear, all part of a day’s work.
Joining me today, I’m thrilled to be joined by Bella Vasta, who is the pack leader of
Bella’s House & Pet Sitting in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Thanks for joining us, Bella.
Bella: Thanks for having me, Josh.
Josh: What were you doing right before you became a professional pet sitter.
Bella: It kind of happened on accident, Josh. I was going to school at Arizona State
University. I just transferred up from the University of Arizona and I was living with my
parents. I decided that pet sitting was an awesome way to get out and be able to have a
little bit freedom, but necessarily be out on my own.
Josh: And how long has Bella’s been up and running?
Bella: Since 2002.
Josh: Tell me what happened with your client and Luke?
Bella: Anne, the mom, was a long-term client of ours. We basically, we go there
Monday through Friday to walk Luke for her, on a beautiful Indian reservation actually;
it was wonderful dirt road where wild horses and all kinds of wildlife would be there
and another people walking their dogs. We come every morning to walk Luke, like
clockwork basically; and we got to become really close with both Luke and Anne. We
also did overnight and day visits for her when she went out of town for the weekends and
definitely a very strong member of the Bella’s family, we called it.
Luke was her prized possession, like the most important thing in her life. I’m sure many
pet sitters can understand. The pets are the babies. The pets are a part of the family.
Sometimes they come even in front of husbands arrive, and Luke definitely was like that.
So much so that Anne actually had a picture – a big portrait, hanging over her fireplace
– he was over her fireplace with a red lipstick kiss on his forehead, which is a trademark
signature she used to do every time she left him.
I’ll never forget the first time we actually pet’s out for her and I came over and Luke greeted me at the door and he has this lipstick on his forehead. I just started chuckling
and it was just absolutely adorable. I asked her why her dog was over her fireplace
instead of her children, and she simply said, “My dog never ask me for money or to bail
them out of jail.” And at that moment, I totally understood where Luke was in her life.
So, Luke is getting older. He just kind of started having minor health problems that
became larger and larger, had some lumps removed, and ongoing trips to the vet. I
mean, he’s just getting old. And she knew it and she was doing everything to prolong the
quality of his life, but also acknowledging that things were happening.
So, one day, I was having lunch and I got a call from her. I told her to call me if she ever
needs anything, because going to see somebody every day you get really close to them.
So I told her to call me and she did, and all I heard was, “Bella it’s time.” And I said I’ll
be with her. I got right in my car, I left lunch immediately, it usually takes me about 15
minutes to get to her house from where I was and I got there in record time. I walked
in and Luke was lying in the foyer and Anne was over him, very distraught, holding
tissues. You could tell she had been crying, and you could tell that Luke was starting the
whole passing procedure. He was panting, lying on the ground, had just right before I
got there, relieved himself all over the floor; and Anne is like, “We got to get him to the
vet. We got to get him over there.” We got a blanket. We moved Luke onto the blanket
and picked up the blanket on either end on both of us, because obviously she cannot
move him. He is probably about 70 pounds or so, and she couldn’t do by herself, so she
said, “Let’s take my van.”
I place Luke in the back of van with her. She crawled into the back of the van as well
and I jumped into the driver seat for her and proceeded to drive like an ambulance, to
the one of the most abused roads in our city. About halfway there, she said, “Bella, he’s
gone.” And she just started crying, but he was in her lap and she was holding his head.
So I let up on the gas, because obviously there wasn’t a huge rush anymore.
We got to the animal hospital safely. The attendant came out and got like a stretcher to
help us bring Luke in. We said our goodbyes. We said our prayers together. We prayed
over Luke and then right before they took his body away, she said there is one more thing
to do, and she reached into her purse and got the lipstick and gave him smooches on the
forehead. We hugged and sat there for a while until she was ready to go and then I drove
her back in her car to her house, because honestly, she wasn’t in a state to drive.
Josh: I love how just beautiful that lipstick trademark comes full circle and Luke gets to
pass on with that eternal mark on his forehead.
Bella: It was definitely very, very touching.
Josh: Was there anything that you and Luke loved to do together or that became your
thing when you took him for walks?
Bella: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I used say, between his mom and him, he was the most saved or spiritually saved dog ever. Because I used to listen to my praise and worship
music, and there’s no one around us, I had my headphones on and he’d be walking in
front of me and I’d be singing, and it was really beautiful because it was trail on the
Indian reservation, so it’s all the Sonora Desert and it’s like the sun rising.
Josh: What I find so amazing is the more I talk to pet sitters, the more I realized that so
many of us become family to the client. We start off as a complete stranger, but time
and time again, we are brought in as family and it’s just an amazing thing. And this is no
different. You were absolutely a family member.
Bella: Exactly. Yeah, we really are. I mean we walk in and sometimes our clients
are still in bed and we’re walking into their bedroom; and they’re still lying in bed and
their pets like still lying on the bed with them and going to creep in the morning and
say, “C’mon.” The dog gets up and goes, so they know why we’re there. I mean what
other service provider do you know that walks into your bedroom when you’re under
the covers sleeping? It’s very personal thing that you not surely become connected with
Josh: Right. Now, what do you think the message is here?
Bella: The message is that because we’re pet sitters, it doesn’t just mean that you walk
a dog and you scoop cat litter. It means that you’ve got to plan to the unplannable, like
account for the unaccountable. There is a definite amount of heart that you have to put
into it, but there’s also a healthy boundary line that you have to also chop.
Josh: What do you think would have happened if Anne didn’t have you to rely on?
Bella: Well, I know for sure she couldn’t get Luke by her car herself. It’s hard to
say, the what ifs is always hard, I know it was definitely comforting and she does
tell me numerous times how great it was that it was there; and she couldn’t probably
do it without me, because we were so close, because we’re so involved, because our
relationship was so strong.
Josh: And what is your relationship like with Anne today?
Bella: It’s still amazing, actually. Sometimes I go out for happy hour with her. She is
just a wonderful and beautiful person. She waited, I think it was about a year, and then
she ended up with another rescue pet, named Gracie. We’re so very connected.
Josh: Was there any charge on your part for running over and driving her with Luke to
Bella: Absolutely not. Our motto has become full service, one price, high quality. I
don’t believe in going back when life happens. Whether it’s instances like this or your
cat is sick and they have to go to the vet while you’re at of town, or if there’s a flood in
your house. We don’t charge extra for that and it’s my boundaries and my philosophy. I say that everything is included and that’s why.
Josh: That is a beautiful business model and it sounds like you really developed this
incredible relationship with Luke and Anne, and that it is appreciated on all levels. And I
want to thank you for taking the time to share your story and for speaking with us today.
Bella: My pleasure, Josh. Thanks for having me and I appreciate it.
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