Business owner’s job has gone to the dogs

Greg Masse
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Laurie Nathe isn’t a doctor, but that doesn’t stop her from making house calls.

Nathe, owner of Laurie’s Tender Loving Care Pet Services in Glenwood Springs, delivers a variety of pet care services while the pets’ owners are away, sort of like a traveling kennel for a variety of animals.

It all started when Laurie started to watch friends’ and neighbors’ pets while the pet owners were gone. After doing this a few times, someone asked her, “Why don’t you start this as a business?”

The idea immediately clicked with Nathe, so she started TLC.

“A friend called me and wanted me to spend a week at their house while they were on vacation,” she said. “Then another neighbor called.”

Ever since her childhood in Hanover, Minn., Nathe said she’s loved being around animals.

“I’ve had so many different kinds of pets,” she said.

Her impressive list includes dogs and cats, gerbils, fish, ferrets and a baby squirrel named Charlie.

She now has just one pet, her mutt, Chance. She adopted Chance from Colorado Animal Rescue in Spring Valley.

She officially started her business around Thanksgiving 2001 and it has been growing ever since.

“I’ve got about 40 clients,” she said.

So far this winter, Nathe said she’s been averaging about two clients a week.

Nathe said her house calls can be tailored to a client’s needs. Most times, she’ll feed and care for the animals for a half-hour to 45 minutes a day. The visits include a walk for dogs, play time and litter-box cleaning for cats, watering plants and some limited grooming. She also turns on different lights each day while her clients are gone to give the home a lived-in look.

Cats and dogs are the most common type of animal Nathe takes care of through her business, but she said no pet is out of the question.

“Geckos, snakes, I’m not afraid of anything,” she said.

Laurie’s TLC Pet Services is bonded and insured. And on her business cards, which are at many veterinarian offices, hotels and tourist attractions, TLC’s mantra is clear: “I’ll take care of you like family.”

Also, Nathe said local businesses including Blue Sky Rafting and the Glenwood Caverns recommends her to customers who can’t bring their pets rafting or underground.

She’s even stayed in rooms at the Hotel Colorado with dogs – it’s required at some hotels that pets not be left alone – while pet owners were cutting it up on a local dance floor or taking in the local culture.

Nathe could also care for pets belonging to people who have hurt themselves or are sick and can’t walk their animals.

An everything’s negotiable.

While her regular rate starts $20 per visit, depending on how many pets there are and how much is stipulated into the deal, Nathe said she’ll work with her clients on price, especially if it’s a long-term job.

Nathe generally works from Old Snowmass to New Castle.

“I’ve tried to network with all the pet-sitters in the valley,” she said.

With the time it takes for each service call, Nathe said it’s easy for pet-sitters to become booked up. That’s when she’ll refer jobs to others.

Nathe said she’ll do overnight stays for certain clients, but that service is taken on a case-by-case basis.

“It’s better if they have a steam shower or a hot tub,” she joked.

During one overnight job, Nathe said her client left her with copious amounts of food and wine in the refrigerator.

But there’s another side to living in the lap of luxury.

“One client left me with a stinky, skunky dog,” she said.

Nathe admits she’s a little more expensive than a kennel, but that’s because she can’t handle as many animals and because the animals are kept in their homes, rather than at a strange place. Some animals, she said, don’t like being away from home.

For information on Laurie’s TLC Pet Services, call 948-6188.

Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511

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