So What the Hell Happened? Part 2 of 5: Dog Sitting!

August 19, 2017 Posted by Tyler Cruz

Continuing on from where I left off in part 1 of my “So What the Hell Happened?” series, let me set the scene: I am depressed and trying to cope with my relatively recently acquired Meniere’s disease, while also being depressed about my affiliate campaigns tanking and my Votesy venture failing to take off. I am tired of the Internet and need a change.

At this time, our golden retriever, Zipper, was around one-and-a-half and so our house (which we had just purchased just under 2 years prior) was already doggy-proof. I’ve also always loved dogs and always used to toy with the idea of running a doggy daycare or providing some other type of dog-based service. I wanted to work with something I enjoyed doing, and so naturally the idea of running a dog-sitting business came to mind.

It was such a drastic change, going from working online for the past 12 or so years, to dog sitting, and it’s incredibly embarrassing to share this with you, but this is what happened (and I have the photos to prove it!). When you’re in a tight spot and need money to pay the bills, you will do whatever is necessary to do so, whether that’s taking a job at McDonalds, washing dishes at a restaurant, or looking after other people’s dogs in your house. Getting a real job would have been the easy answer, but my Meniere’s disease would not allow this.

Starting the Business

I didn’t do much – I created a GMail account for dog sitting and posted ads up on Craigslist, Kijiji, and another local classifieds site, and also put up flyers around town (yup… it actually resorted to that!) although the flyers didn’t bring in any leads.

Fortunately, it was late November or early December when this happened and so we actually had a fair bit of interest despite minimal advertising, since people were going on vacation for the Christmas holidays and needed somebody to take care of their dog.

Living with Dogs

It started with 1 extra dog which went fine. Then 2. Then another. And another.

“Happy”, the smaller dog, being unsure of living with 3 big dogs in the house.

Keep in mind that these were all long-term stays – between 2-4 weeks! So, they slept in my bedroom with me.

We had to set a limit at 4 dogs as we felt that we couldn’t reasonably take care of any more than that at the same time, especially since each dog had special issues!

For example, one dog (the Weimaraner above) was fantastic except she had separation anxiety from her owners and was very skittish and alert to any noise. She also barked like you wouldn’t believe, and had the loudest bark ever. At night she would bark at the faintest noise and go crazy at night – the first few nights were the toughest.

The larger Golden Retreiver above (Benji) was the sweetest dog EVER, but he was extremely old (around 13 or 14) and had trouble walking and getting up, so he needed extra care. He needed supervision when using the stairs, we would hand feed him sometimes since he had trouble standing up, etc.

The corgi mix above (Happy) needed to be given medicine twice a day and the medicine made her pee on the floor a few times! She also had some odd alpha dominant behaviour towards the other, bigger, dogs, and our dog Zipper was ignoring it for the most part, but I could see that he was at the end of his rope and was not going to take it for much longer.

Dogs everywhere!

 

Crazy Owners, Crazy Dogs

I ran into a couple interesting situations where I had to turn away the dog after they showed up.

In the first case, it was a tiny puppy that was extremely timid. But the problem wasn’t the dog so much as it was the owners – and after meeting the owners you could quickly understand why the dog was so timid. Granted, it was a puppy and they were new owners, but they babied the dog like you wouldn’t believe – despite our dog being friendly, it would hide behind his owners and the owners would pick it up and coddle it, and basically were helicoptor parents – always within inches of their dog, ready to swoop him up in an instant.

I explained to them that it probably wouldn’t work out since they obviously didn’t feel comfortable leaving their dog with us. By the way, they were at our house for over 2 hours making sure their dog would be okay being left with us.

Zipper and Dewdney chilling

In the second case, the guy had contacted me a day or two prior, stating that Rottweiler was super friendly and loved other dogs and was just a big “puppy” and wouldn’t hurt a fly. I was nervous about at first, it being a Rottie and all, but decided to give him a chance as I’ve heard that Rotties can be one of the most lovable dog breeds out there.

When the guy arrived, I could see him struggling up our driveway. First, keep in mind that this guy was a massive, tough looking giant, with tattoos, leather jacket, and the works. He was probably at least 6’3 and just simply huge. Yet, he was being not pulled but dragged up our driveway by his dog. That was red flag #1.

Red flag #2 was when I saw the Rottweiler, and he was one of the biggest dogs I’ve ever seen in my life! And pure muscle! His claws were simply ridiculous and literally looked like a bird of prey’s talons (I didn’t know a dog’s claws could get so big and sharp). He also had a studded choke collar.

Red flag #3 was when I had him take the dog to the back yard before I intoduced him to our other dogs and he still couldn’t get his dog under control. Remember, this was an absolute giant of a man and he couldn’t even get his beast of a dog to sit or even stand still.

Despite all these red flags, I could see that the dog was just excited and wasn’t really showing any aggressive behaviour, so I took out one of the dogs to let them meet (with him holding onto his dog tightly), and the other dog immediately jumped onto the other dog. It was a playful jump, but this dog was probably 150 pounds and it obviously not know how to play with other dogs properly.

Remember that the owner had drove 3 hours to our place and I had told him before that I could accept his dog (from how he described him to me via e-mail), but after all of this I had to build up the courage to tell him that I was responsible for the other dogs safety and had to turn him away. I felt absolutely terrible doing this because he did drive so far and would have to drive back 3 hours, and he had no other place to go since he was going somewhere for Christmas later that day and all the local kennels and places were booked solid. I felt so bad, but I had no choice.

Pros and Cons

It was such an adjustment to suddenly live with 4 dogs. Here are the pros and cons I found with dog sitting:

Pros

  • Returning home was awesome; you got 4 dogs waiting to greet you, all super happy to see you. I will definitely miss that.
  • It was cool to see different dog breeds and personalities
  • They money was actually pretty good

Cons

  • We always needed somebody to stay at home to look after the dogs, so my girlfriend and I couldn’t go out at the same time
  • The smell in the house was ridiculous. It smelled like a barn. You didn’t notice it though until you left the house and came back
  • All dogs had certain issues. This makes sense though, as if a dog was perfect, they would like be placed with friends or family
  • Our dog was young and had at the time showed some aggression towards other dogs in the recent past, so we had to screen the other dogs to make sure he could live with them safely
  • Some dogs or owners are simply crazy (more on that in the next section)
  • There is the fear in the back of your mind if something happens to somebody’s dog

Let sleeping dogs lie.

How Was the Money?

The money was obviously not remotely close to the type of money I was used to, but it was actually not bad considering it was just dog sitting.

Here were my rates:

1 hour: $10
1 day (up to 8 hours, otherwise $10 per additional hour ): $30
2 days in a row: $40 or (overnight): $50
1 week: $175 or (overnight): $200
1 month: $500 or (overnight): $600

However, we only ever had dogs for long term (our shortest stay was 2 days, overnight), so if we looked after 4 dogs for 3 weeks, that would be $2,400.

The longer you have the dog, the easier it is as you build a bond with the dog and learn about the dog, and most of the time they will be sleeping, so it’s actually a really easy way to make $2,000-$3,000 a month. However, we only did this over Christmas (Zipper began to attack the other dogs so we had to put an end to it), so my numbers are quite skewed. At the same time, we were brand new and didn’t have time to build up a real business, so there was certainly potential for growth.

Even without long-term stays, taking care of 5 dogs for 1 day would yield $150. If the dogs get along, this is not insignificant money.

Zipper and Dewdney were actually really close friends…

…Until Zipper attacked her over a bone misunderstanding and drew blood!

No More Dog Sitting

Due to Zipper becoming aggressive towards other dogs (he probably missed having the house to himself), we had to stop the dog sitting. We only did it for around 6-7 weeks. Zipper is also now in school for his aggression and has come a long way.

It was interesting though. It’s certainly a viable way to make money if you have a house appropriate for it.

I’ll leave you with a few more photos before I finish:

Zipper and Benji – the two golden retrievers. With all their hair, they always prefer lying right on the ground instead of a bed.

 

 

Unfortunately, Benji passed away close to a year after staying with us.

Dewdney is such a diva…

My bedroom in the middle of the night.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of my “So What the Hell Happened?” series. It is a real doozy.

Posted: August 19th, 2017 under Miscellaneous 4 Comments

Upgrading My Office Chair Wheels to Rollerblade Wheels

August 16, 2017 Posted by Tyler Cruz

I was cleaning my office a couple weeks ago when I noticed that my office chair’s caster wheels were completely clogged with dog hair from my golden retriever. Despite spending 45-minutes with pliers trying to clean all 5 wheels out, there was still dog hair in there that I couldn’t reach, and the wheels would not rotate freely anymore.

I did some research and found out that there are now rollerblade style wheels that you can purchase to replace the ones that come with your office chair. It’s interesting that office chairs are so expensive (I paid about $250 for this one), but they all come with the same cheap 100% plastic caster wheels.

Anyhow, I ordered a set of 5 rollerblade office chair wheels from Amazon, and received them 2 days later.

Here’s a short video I made showing the difference between the built-in regular office chair wheels and the rollerblade style wheels I bought. You can skip to the 4-minute mark if you want to go straight to the comparison:

(Note: You may need to visit the post directly at TylerCruz.com if you’re reading this via e-mail or RSS in order to see the video.)

Posted: August 16th, 2017 under Videos 1 Comment

Being Able to Focus by Minimizing My Life

August 13, 2017 Posted by Tyler Cruz

I am doing pretty well and making good progress in my 30-post challenge as this is post #7 out of #30 (the final order may vary), which means that I’m keeping in pace with my 1-2 posts per day goal pace.

This is on top of taking care of other work and errands at the same time. So what changed? Why am I able to write 7 posts in 4 days when a couple of years ago it would have taken me 4 weeks?  Part of it is definitely due to taking a 1.5 year break from blogging and coming back fresh and with a lot to talk about, but I only attribute that to part of it. The other reason is because I have made a very conscious and deliberate attempt to minimize and simplify my life.

In fact, one of the main reasons I waited so long to get back to blogging was that I wanted to make sure that I had as little distractions as possible. I used to have my hands in so many cookie jars at once that I could never focus on anything properly, and so I knew I had to minimize and simplify my life.

Tackling Procrastinated Projects

It’s no secret that I’m a procrastinator. I mean hell, I abandoned my blog for a year and a half.

In order to tackle my procrastinating tendencies head on, instead of avoiding the things that I had been putting off forever, I challenged myself to make them my priority instead.

Tending to Hundreds of E-mails

I had let hundreds upon hundreds of unprocessed e-mails build up, and I very gradually tended to them all over a very long period which was a seemingly neverending job. I am happy to report that I now have only one e-mail left that I need to deal with (it involves creating a complicated blog post, so I’ve been putting it off forever). After that, I will be at inbox zero – a place I haven’t been in probably 5+ years.

Took Care of Income Taxes

This was by far the most stressful thing I had been putting off and was constantly causing me stress in the back of my mind. There’s nothing I procrastinate more with than getting my taxes done.

Despite taking them all to an accounting firm to get processed, it still requires a lot of work from me since I have 3 income taxes to process each year: my operating corporation, my holding corporation, and my personal taxes. And since I work online, it can be very difficult to obtain and organize all the proper paperwork since online sources often don’t have proper reporting options, don’t let you report by a custom date range (needed for my fiscal year), etc. In addition, when I was doing affiliate marketing, I had literally HUNDREDS of various income and expense sources. It is a herculean task to simply prepare the paperwork to give to my accountants.

Fortunately, I spent a significant amount of time creating an extremely organized “to do” checklist and system that lets me create and organize all the proper paperwork, which dramatically reduces the amount of time I need to spend on this in the future.

I am now up to date with all my taxes and am currently waiting for my accountant to get back to me to tell me the results of my latest year’s taxes.

Updated My Blog

Another reason I hadn’t blogged in so long is that the affiliate link plugin I had been using suddenly broke and I was having a hard time finding a suitable replacement, and I wanted to get that done before I started posting again. I finally got that sorted out now.

I also updated every single of my side pages such as my About and Recommended Resources pages.

In addition, I upgraded my plugins, WordPress, and even upgraded some of the icons on the side menus of my blog (some of the ones that were still referencing poker from way back in the day!)

I am still in the process of cleaning up spam (I’m currently caught up to late 2016), and getting rid of broken links (280 left to go).

Made Computer Backups

I had to find a new system for backing my computer up as my old method couldn’t be used anymore since the encryption software I used to use, TrueCrypt,  stopped being supported due to potential security issues. I ended up going with a pretty weak replacement, but I’m also not making much online anymore so it’s not that important. I’m aware of cloud-based backing up solutions, but I have ISP bandwidth limits to consider, plus I don’t want to shell out $120 a year for a back-up service.

Minimizing My Life

In addition to tackling my procrastination issues, I also minimized my life as much as possible, both offline and on. While I was actually already very organized beforehand, I wanted to minimize things even further, just to clear space both physically and mentally.

  • I went through every damn physical thing I owned that I hadn’t used in a long time or realistically planned on using in the near future and was effectively just clutter, and sold it on Craigslist and other online classified websites.
  • I went through old photos and threw out duplicates, digitized others.
  • I went through every program on my computer and updated it or removed it if I hadn’t used it in ages, and also went through every single file on the computer and deleted anything I didn’t need anymore.
  • I cleaned my office from head to toe (which was already extremely organized to begin with), even disconnecting cables and wiping them down, etc.
  • I even took my computer apart and used my air compressor to clean it.

I did all this not because I was having a Danny Tanner moment, but because I wanted to start things back fresh and new.

Sold Off Old/Dead Websites and Domains

Apart from tackling my taxes and tending to all my e-mails, this was probably the hardest thing I did to minimize my life.

Once upon a time, I had literally dozens of web properties, many of them actively (or passively) making cash. Over time, I sold most of them, but I still had a bunch lingering about. I kept onto a lot of them because I had owned them for a long time and put in countless hours and effort into them, and I knew that they would not fetch much or anything if I tried to sell them. I was essentially just holding onto them for sentimental reasons, which is a pointless business move. All they were doing were taking up space and wasting my time – they weren’t growing or bringing in any money, so I should have cut the cord on them years ago.

I actually ended up selling Movie-Vault.com for only $2,500 – which the guy never did anything with and left it to completely and truly die. I put more work into that site that you can fathom; it was my oldest site and I actually started it close to 2 decades ago (I believe the website was 15 years old when I sold it). But I had to cut the cord.

As I write this, I currently have another site up for auction with no reserve. I won’t link it here since by the time I publish this post, it will be sold. The high bid is currently at $25.

Other domains and websites, I simply abandoned completely, letting the domains expire.  Various websites I spend tens of thousands of dollars on and countless hours.

It’s a shame and sad to see all that hard work have to be thrown away, but there was no point in keeping them. They were just a leech on my resources.

Benefits

So as a result of all of the above, my head is now a lot clearer and I have a lot less “pending anxiety”. I’m not 100% done all this and where I want ultimately want to be, but I only have a couple of things left to do, so I’d say I’m 97% there.

If you are in the same boat as I was, perhaps you might want to try minimizing your life as well. Cut out everything that you don’t need or provides no value to you, face things you’ve been putting off, clean up a bit, and you might be surprised how much more clear-headed you feel.

Posted: August 13th, 2017 under Miscellaneous 10 Comments

So What the Hell Happened? Part 1 of 5

August 10, 2017 Posted by Tyler Cruz

My last blog post before I disappeared was made back on February 13, 2016 – a good year and 5 months ago. So what the hell happened?

Since I have a year and a half to cover, I am breaking this up into a series of 5 separate posts.

Okay.

If you remember, I had sunk the majority of my affiliate marketing profits into an income property as I knew my affiliate campaigns could die at any time. In fact, I knew it was just a matter of time. And with constantly increasing regulation and competition (namely against big brand advertisers who don’t have to worry about ROI), I could see the horizon looming ever closer – at least for me. This is why I researched real estate investing for a year and then finally purchased a place.

Votesy

But at the same time, I didn’t want to simply give up on making money online either. I could sense that affiliate marketing was dying, and my experience and background before affiliate marketing was in developing community-based websites. I came up with the idea of Votesy and just couldn’t get it out of my head, and so I decided to give the online thing one more go and went all out with Votesy, putting the last of my income and effort into it, along with a silent partner/investor.

I knew that Votesy was a big gamble and that the odds weren’t in my favour, but I also knew that if it did take off, that it’d be a real hit. I took the risk, it never took off, and I accepted the consequences. I don’t regret it though. Most of the stuff I’ve tried have failed, but a few have been successes, and affiliate marketing is all one big calculated gamble, just like poker (which is also part of my background).

Depressed and Sick

After sinking a fair bit of cash, but more importantly: time and effort, into Votesy, my affiliate marketing campaigns had mostly all dried up and died, and I wasn’t interested in trying to resurrect them. It would cost too much money, which I had none of at that point, and after Votesy didn’t take off, I was getting pretty tired of trying to make money from the Internet. In addition to Votesy and my campaigns failing, my Meniere’s was really kicking my ass and its effects were having a massive drain my life.

It’s one thing to be poor, but it’s another to be both poor and have serious health issues. Not being able to go out and do anything, having the horrible vertigo attacks, and suddenly going from making a lot of money online to absolutely nothing made me very depressed.

I didn’t feel like blogging anymore. In fact, I had been tired of blogging even before all that shit happened, mainly because at that time I had been blogging for 11 years. That’s 11 years straight with over 1,100 blog posts. I needed a real break from the ruthless fast-moving world of the Internet.

Goodbye, Internet!

While I hadn’t clearly decided at that point that I would abandon everything I had going online, I did know that I needed a good long break from it all. With so many failures online, and the constant struggle that making money online entails, I looked towards alternative means of making money. That is, making money offline.

I wondered why I struggled so much online when 99% of people just work a regular job and make just as much (more or less), only they have job security in most cases and get paid as long as they show up to work. Now listen to me carefully – I didn’t want a regular job, but it just seemed so oddly strange to me that people got paid so much for doing essentially nothing. For example, here are some average US salary numbers I took from a quick Google search:

  • Retail salesperson – $25,310
  • Cashier – $20,370
  • Janitor/cleaner – $24,850

Okay, so they’re not exactly making bank, but consider how much time and effort people spend in trying to make money online. Most will make no more than $50 if they’re lucky, after years of struggling.

Is being a cashier or working in retail easy? Hell no, but the money is guaranteed – you show up to work, you get paid – simple as that. And THIS is why I wanted to look offline to make money – I wanted a more guaranteed way of making money. I wanted to receive money in exchange for my time, unlike being an entrepreneur.

How I Survived

In each of the upcoming posts in this series, I will share the various things I did to pay the rent. This will be new territory for my blog, as since its inception I have always made a living purely from the Internet.

It will also shed me in a different light as I hit absolute rock bottom and have to struggle just to survive and be able to pay for heat. On the positive side though, these are things that are much more accessible for many others to be able to do as well. This is in stark contract to things like affiliate marketing or developing websites which require more of a technical skillset and existing seed money.

Stay tuned for my next post in this series. It will be very embarrasing and humbling for me to share, but I’ve always been very open and honest on my blog and I have nothing to hide.

Posted: August 10th, 2017 under Miscellaneous 19 Comments