Friday, September 7, 2012

Aliyah Petsitting

Shalom, chaverim! Elul has been away this past week on a business trip. When I meet other people and I tell them that he's out of town, I usually get some form of "hubba, hubba!" in response. But, far from doing the naughty things that usually come to mind when "hubba, hubba!" is uttered, I've been busy launching my own small business, Aliyah Petsitting.

As I will freely admit, I am a true Crazy Cat Lady Wannabe. For example, just watching Halle Berry and her amazing abs--which should have gotten their own credit--last night playing the title role in "Catwoman" got me back to the gym in a (all too brief, I'm afraid) flash of motivation.

Fortunately, Elul wisely will not allow this, so we are limited to just two cats, Pini and Dudu. They are doing fine, by the way...Pini got neutered last week and Dudu got spayed on the same day. Our excellent Nahariya vet, Dr. Tzafir, did a wonderful job at a very reasonable price. They also got more shots and a treatment for worms, so they're good for now. In fact, after recovering for a few days, they are taking advantage of Elul's absence by being even more rambunctious as usual. Note Dudu, below, snugly wrapped in a plastic bag that she stole from the counter top as I was putting groceries away.

"Well, I dunno, it MIGHT start raining in here...I'm just being careful!"
And shame on me for forgetting the now cardinal rule in the Gitlin household: "Keep the damn bathroom door shut at all times!" That's because Pini has developed a fetish for unrolling the toilet paper from the roll, then playing in it and ripping it up.

This was funny exactly one time. Oh, and that stuff on the toilet is just some old tape and adhesive residue.
Now, where was I? Oh, yes: "Crazy Cat Lady Wannabe Turns Frustrated Pet Acquisition Desire into Massively Successful Business Empire." A friend of ours, whose two cats I adore, was headed to America for a couple of weeks. She asked if I could take care of her cats, take in the mail, and water her plants while she was away. She also insisted on paying me, so she wouldn't have to feel awkward about asking me to do it again when she needed a petsitter. What a mensch! So we made some arrangements, and I began my new career as a professional pet sitter two weeks ago.

There was something about walking into that apartment, and seeing those two furry little faces impatiently waiting for food and cuddles, that just rang a bell inside me. I thought "I want to keep doing this, for everybody's pets!" So I started a business, Aliyah Petsitting. Of course, I have yet to finalize the details, but in Elul's absence I've gotten an English logo designed, then got it redesigned into Hebrew, had a stop-animation video produced, a flyer written out in Hebrew (my neighbors helped me write it), a business card designed, and I've even designed work uniforms with "Aliyah Petsitting" embroidered on the top. The uniforms are only for when I call on the human clients, not the furry ones. Now all I have to do is get all this stuff printed up, and then I'll be able to start distributing flyers in the neighborhood.

In the meantime, I've been just using word of mouth to get the business going, and I've already been in touch with five different potential new clients. I've contacted an American-Israeli CPA in Karmiel who can help me set up my business bookkeeping and tax file correctly, and have found an Israeli printer who can make me those cool magnetic business cards that are so popular here.

Getting the design work done was incredibly cheap, thanks to a fantastic website I discovered called Essentially, people sell "gigs"--little tasks or products--for $5 each. One guy designed my original logo in English. Another guy is doing my video--again, for five bucks. And an amazing Israeli woman translated my logo into Hebrew and wrote out my flyer text--two gigs at five dollars a piece. Total spent: $20. I'll spend another five dollars to have her do a graphic version of my flyer that includes the text and the logo. The property is all mine now, so I can use it to get the embroidery done, and the business cards and stationery printed up. I spent about $1.50 on a book of Israeli blank receipts. Total spent so far: $21.50. The accountant will be more, of course, but I will ask him to train me on how to do nearly everything myself, so I can save money that way.

Here are my fancy new logos, in English and Hebrew.

I like the proportions of this logo, including the bunny that's as big as a house. Shades of the Killer Rabbit in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

Here it is in Hebrew. I'm not sure how to pronounce the word after "Aliyah," since there are no vowel marks.
Here's another version, this time with "Aliyah Babysitting" spelled out phonetically.

As you can see, my translator/designer gave me two choices for the Hebrew version of my logo. Ironically, she didn't know which Hebrew to use: "petsitting" doesn't exist in the Hebrew language, nor does the concept. "Huh? We have friends or family members look after our pets when we are away!" is the usual response I get when I've talked to native Israelis about my business. Now I have to decide which Hebrew logo version to go with.

Finally, in the spirit of "re-inventing myself" as a petsitting business mogulista, and having been left in complete control of the cat feeding/poop-scooping duties in my own home, I made an executive decision to upgrade both the dustpan and the litter scoop. The dustpan has an attached hand broom, unlike the one Elul used, which had no hand broom. He used a floor broom to sweep the litter remnants into a dustpan, which for me is physically awkward and quite inefficient. And if there's one thing you want to be when cleaning out a cat litter box, it's to be efficient.

The litter scoop also needed to be upgraded. I found a better one, with smaller holes, that more effectively catches those little bits and pieces of shattered clumps of what Elul calls "pee balls and Klingons."

The old scoop is the blue one. Note the design genius of the smaller holes of the fancy new red one. The badass dustpan set matches the cats' matching Burberry-style Snuggies.
So, on the note of cleanliness being next to not only G-dliness but also next to world fashion domination, I wish you all a very peaceful Shabbat!

Shabbat shalom, chaverim!

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