Meet Gus Elfving.
Gus is the Principal and Pack Leader of Pet Peeps located in Washington, DC.
From the moment you hear Gus speak about his journey into the pet sitting industry, it becomes quite clear that he is passionate, genuine and quite determined to provide his clients with unparalleled service.
It’s no surprised that Pet Peeps was named by readers of Washingtonian Magazine as one of the best pet sitting and dog walking companies in town.
In this episode of Super Hero Sitters, Gus recounts the story of one snowy winter afternoon that he’ll never forget.
Transcript Of Today’s Video
up about life, liberty and the pursuit of happy pets. My name is Joshua Cary, co-founder
of the APSE. And in this series we follow professional pet sitters who have stories to
share that may sound heroic but were really all carried out without a second thought, and
as we’ll hear, all part of a day’s work. In today’s program, we’re joined by Gus Elfving.
He is the principal and pack leader of Pet Peeps in Washington D.C. Thanks for joining us, Gus.
Gus: Hello, Josh. Thanks for having me.
Josh: So let’s begin with a snapshot of you and your business. How did you first find
yourself in pet sitting?
Gus: Hmm, that’s a good question. By accident. I had moved to D.C. to finish my
degree at American University; as undergrad had interned on the Hill. After a while that
kind of wears on you and I started looking at other avenues. As it turned out, I had dated
somebody who was doing overnights at a boarding facility and I did overnights with him.
After that, a friend of mine was leaving a dog walking gig and I took that on. The part-
time job that I was working as retail, they called me up and said, “Hey, you never worked
in two months. Do you still work here?” I don’t find getting all nightshifts covered. I
hadn’t really been there and I realized at that point, I can really… I guess all of my hard
work and diligence paid off. I was able to actually support myself at taking care of other
people’s pets, and I continued to dedicated myself to actually, at that point, to growing a
Josh: How many years now have you been in business?
Gus: Officially I started Pet Peeps in 2006.
Josh: Great. Now, I spent the majority of my life on the East Coast so I personally
know how brutal the snowstorms can be. Tell us your story that I know you call
Gus: I thought snowmageddon was better and more appropriate. Snowpocalypse was
an ungodly amount of snow. We got about over two feet of snow in early February of
last year, and it basically shut the city down where I had a client who had been a longtime
client for us. They have a cat named Sausage and we always enjoyed taking care of
So the client had to be out of town for a wedding, and they had reached out to friends
and they weren’t getting any response from any of their friends, and they needed care
for Sausage and a feral cat rescued – who had recently undergone surgery – who was
also staying with the family while they went out of town. As a huge snowstorm is
approaching, they realized that they’re going to have to leave early if they’re going to get
to this wedding that is out of town in order to avoid not being able to go. They need to
leave Friday morning. They haven’t heard anything back from anybody. On Thursday,
they called me in a panic and we were able to arrange to care for Sausage on the fly so
that they could leave that morning.
The next morning when we were supposed to go, all over two feet of snow had fallen,
so I was determined that we were going to get there. There was so much snow on the
ground that they had actually shut down all of the bus lines. They weren’t any cabs out.
So I put on my boots and my coat and I kind of trudged to a two feet plus of snow to get
over a mile to get to their house to care of Sausage and began to try and tend to Sheba
who was another cat rescued who had recently undergone surgery on her hind corners.
And I looked into, up into the crate, and I can see that her food and water need freshened
and that she obviously her litter box needs tended. And she looks so sad and adorable
and so sweet and just like really droopy.
So I started to open up the cage and take care of her food and water and all the sudden,
like this cat leaps out of the crate and jumped up onto the chair and then on… from the
chair up to the door to the outside, and there’s a window above the door, a transom, and
she tried to jump into the transom, hits the door, comes sliding down to the floor with a
thud, gets up without missing a beat, jumps onto the table, jumps… tried to make exit
for the door into the dining room. Luckily I had slid the pocket door shut into dining
room before it had come into the kitchen. She, again, hits the door, she runs over onto
the counter, jumps on the counter, coupons and like things are flying up the counter.
She jumps from the island to the kitchen counter. Utensils and kitchen appliance like
little tiny kitchen appliances are flying all over the kitchen. She jumps up onto the
refrigerator, all of the cereal boxes like fly off the refrigerator and she starts trying to
wedge herself between the wall and the refrigerator.
Josh: Oh no!
Gus: And the only access, the only thing that I can see is her poor little behind with the
incision from the surgery taking out and I am scared to death to touch it. So I’ve been
trying to calm her down the whole time that all of this was going on and trying to ssshhh
her and calm her. Of course it’s to no avail, and so there I am with Sheba like trying to
crawl behind the refrigerator, and all this mess and all this stuff all over the kitchen.
Josh: And this is a cat that was healing from surgery and anything could now happen
into this wound that does really needs to heal.
Gus: Yeah. It’s a feral cat who’s recovering from surgery, who like just moments ago
looked like they couldn’t have gotten up off the ground on their own accord who is now
crazily jumping all over the place. I was afraid to grab the rear of the cat where the
incision was for fear of like breaking the incision open or the stitches popping, and then
having a situation on my hands where I couldn’t get the cat to the emergency pet hospital
that wasn’t even open.
Josh: Wow! So what wound up happening with you and Sheba?
Gus: Well, luckily… no plug for the Red Cross here, but luckily I had done my fair
share of like emergency pet care training, emergency pet first aid. And I remember that
with a cat, one of the things to do is to grab a towel or in some cases a pillowcase. I
found a kitchen towel, I was able to… I mean this was all was in seconds. I was able to
grab the towel, gently wrap it around the rear of Sheba, and able to wrap her up like sort
of like a swaddling baby in this towel, and hold onto her as I finish changing the food, the
water and the litter, and deposit her back into the crate safely and soundly.
Josh: So your professional training allowed you to stay calm and react appropriately to
the situation. So I imagine to the untrained person in this situation where this poor little
cat who is trying to recover from surgery for whatever reason sees the opening, freaks
out, jumps out, may have found themselves in a different situation. And I have to remind
our listeners that all this is in a complete snowstorm that basically shut down the city. So
if something happened to this cat, who knows what could’ve happened?
Gus: Yeah, absolutely. And to be honest with you, I wasn’t quite fully prepared for the
situation going in knowing that I was dealing with a feral cat. I knew that it was a cat
that was an outdoor cat; I didn’t realize that it was as a feral as it was. And so I really
was, I think, lucky in the situation that I had had some training and that it had stuck with
me. Because in the situation, I mean of that story I’ve probably taken longer telling the
story – 10 times longer telling the story is all the split seconds that this whole situation
took place, and it was sort of in the middle of a storm, and so like at the back of my head
like freaking out, like what happens. Luckily I didn’t have to find out.
Josh: Right. When you finally get to speak to the client and let her know what
happened, I could imagine she was just thankful for your professionalism.
Gus: Oh, she was actually more than thankful for my professionalism, which she was,
she was professional and very grateful for the fact that we had even made it to the house.
Because as I had said, the city… they had tried to reach out to neighbors and people who
typically help them with the cat, they realized fully well because they weren’t able to get
back in the town themselves because the city had shut down. I think more than anything
they were just grateful that we had actually agreed to do it and that we were able to make
it there. Because they were so happy and pleased as punch that given the situation and
the circumstances that Sheba had recuperated more fully than they had anticipated that I
was able to handle myself and handle the incident without anything happening can make
it worse. And then after the whole crazy circus where Sheba went down, I tied it up
everything, put all the cereal boxes back, and I washed all the dishes that had fallen down
on the ground, you know tied it up.
Josh: I want to thank you, Gus, for taking the time and sharing this story with us.
And it’s just another insight into the great need to do your research when hiring the pet
sitters, someone to care for your pets, to make sure they have the skills, the training
and the professionalism to do the job and really to handle any foreseen or unforeseen circumstances. And it seemed like you, Gus, handled it like a pro. And again, I want to thank you for sharing the story with us.
Gus: My pleasure. Thank you for listening to my crazy story.
Right click here to download this video to your computer (mp3 format, ipod compatible)
Download the Complete Series Written Transcript (PDF)
Return to the Super Hero Sitters Episode List.