Recently we had the chance to speak with Chris Fogg, owner and founder of Top Dog Critter Sitters in Concord, NH.
As a local Concord business, we were interested to speak with Chris and his experience running Top Dog Critter Sitters. Chris told us he opened up in March of 2019, after many requests from friends to take care of their pets while out of town.
Chris says, “I grew up on the farm. I was the go-to person for all family, friends, neighbors, as I was always bringing home stray kittens and dogs. Since I was a kid, I always interested and loved animals. I was always rescuing injured birds and baby mice and rabbits. We (my wife and I) still do, just last week we found and brought 4 baby squirrels to Wings of Dawn in Henniker. “
“Then, a couple years ago, my wife Corrine, got pregnant, while I was a pre-school teacher and running the after school program at the YMCA. But, as rewarding as it is, there was not much money in child care.“
Then Chris says, a friend called and asked for pet sitting, and it gave him the idea of pet sitting as a more full-time option. He did some research, and it showed there was a need locally.
So he got started on a business plan. And the logo he created and named Top Dog Critter Sitters with his 16 year old son.
Chris tells us, “The first month, we had one customer every day. Then we tried running some local Facebook ads. The second month traffic blew up. Emails, calls, referrals.”
“I have my dream job. Owning my own business, working with animals, meeting and helping new and interesting people all while being active and out in nature everyday. And it’s a family business. We have 2 kids. A 16 year old son Collin, and a 2 year old daughter Eleanore. We have 2 dogs Rufio husky 11 years old, and Bailey, he’s a 60 pound 8 month old chocolate Double Doodle. Both my wife and son have walked a few dogs, and our daughter has even joined on some as well.”
Chris also mentioned that, Helen, from No Monkey Business, a local dog training facility gives them a lot of referrals.
And according to one happy customer, “I was lucky to find Chris through a mutual acquaintance – and from the moment he made his home visit, my chocolate lab Gus loved him! My husband and I could tell right away that Chris was someone special and he could be trusted with not only Gus, but also with access to our home. That was over a year ago and Chris has been a constant in our lives ever since. He’s always on time and has always accommodated any last minute changes we might throw at him! We have since added a new puppy Finn to the mix , and he loves Chris just as much as Gus. Chris was instrumental in helping to leash train the dogs! I would HIGHLY recommend Chris to anyone and I am constantly telling people about how lucky we are to have him in our daily lives.
And another, “I appreciated Chris not only watching and walking the dogs but giving them the love that they needed while I was away at work. They’re hard to handle at times, but he always said kind words about them and loved them like his own. My Mastiff was overweight and needed to lose some pounds. With Chris he lost almost 10 pounds. my dogs absolutely adored Chris and 10/10 times I would recommend to family, friends or anyone who is in need of care for their pets.“
Top Dog Critter Sitters offers their customers a variety of services. These include pet sitting, dog walking, home visits and feedings, pet taxi (for vet appointments), and even farm sitting. Chris tells us he has taken care of animals at 15 different farms in surrounding towns including Loudon, Canterbury, Concord, Manchester.
Top Dog Critter Sitters is insured & bonded, and will travel outside 20 minutes of Statehouse, or further with a small additional fee.
Lately, with the recent Coronavirus outbreak, Chris says it has been a different than his usual routine, but they are making adjustments as needed. He mentioned that while sanitary practices were already a top priority for him, things like meet and greets have now gone to virtual via FaceTime. But he also says his customers appreciate this option, as social distancing with pets isn’t always easy.
“Pet care is an essential business so we have stayed open. We have taken the pandemic Seriously and have set up multiple ways of helping to prevent the spread.”“I have unfortunately lost 3/4 of my customers temporarily. The 5 customers I have left are all either essential employees who still need care for their pets or loyal customers who have kept me on to help keep me and my family afloat. My wife is a stay at home mom so Top Dog is our only source of income.”“I wear new gloves, and a mask (my step mother makes them so I thankfully have a couple to choose from, my favorite is the one with paw prints all over it). And with each home, and Lysol wipe everything I am about to touch for my safety, and then again after for their safety.”
We asked Chris what his most common customers are, and we were surprised to learn that while about 60% of his customer have dogs to be taken care of, there are many cats, birds, gerbils, turtles, fish, and even a house pig. In fact, he has taken care of over 120 different animals.
Since getting started Chris tells us he has walked well over 3,000 miles in Concord, many with his first customer, a Chocolate Lab named Gus. Next, his goal is to sponsor a walk across the state of New Hampshire.
You can learn more about Top Dog Critter Sitters on their website here: https://topdogcrittersitters.com/
You can also visit their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/topdogcrittersitters/