Meet your merchant: Retired nurse finds a new calling working with pets
February 17, 2019
Growing up in San Francisco, Cheryl Robinson always knew she had a gift for healing, whether it was animals or people.
That's why no one was surprised when she became a registered nurse, and went on to thrive for many years working in the trauma center at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. Her gift for putting distressed patients at ease and making them laugh was evident, and these turned out to be traits that would serve her in many ways.
But after many years of working in a fulfilling and demanding career, Robinson was ready to scale back. She began to work part-time while taking on side jobs, such as selling Mary Kay beauty products and professional gift baskets with the help of her daughter. Nine years ago, she was finally ready to move out of the city and opted to move to Lake of the Pines.
"It was finally time to do things just for me, to slow down," she said. "I loved it up here and began taking dance classes. But I knew I'd need a job — something that kept me freed up to pursue my hobbies."
Looking back over the years, Robinson remembered how much she had enjoyed caring for friends' pets when they were out of town.
"It was something I felt comfortable doing — somehow it felt right," she said. "Subconsciously I always kept that in the back of my mind. Then I realized that this is what I want to do — I've always loved animals."
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Suddenly Robinson was on a mission — she began putting up flyers at Holiday Market and veterinarians' offices. She put an ad in the paper, handed out her business cards at the dog park and became fully covered by pet insurance.
Her business, coined, "The Pet Whisperer," started to take off and today, nine years later, it's still going strong.
Robinson is a welcome relief for those leaving pets behind while on vacation or called out of town on business. She'll make as many visits as needed and, due to her nursing background, she's able to transfer some of her skills when it comes to anxious pets or older animals in need of special care, such as administering subcutaneous fluid to help manage and prevent dehydration. Currently she's in the process of getting certification to provide animal massage.
"I'm experienced when it comes to health issues with animals," said Robinson. "I can give medication and I'm very gentle. I've recently lost my 22-year old cat, Rocky, so I understand. But I'm in good shape, so I can also walk and jog with dogs that require a fair amount of exercise. I also take them hiking and to the dog park. Some have even stayed at my house. One dog, Rex, spends a month with me every year when his owners go to Mexico."
And it's not just dogs and cats she cares for. For example, Robinson has spent four years working for one family that owns exotic birds, fish and turtles, in addition to their five dogs. She has become such a regular that the dogs recognize the sound of her car.
"Cheryl goes the extra mile," said Pattie Bauer, who owns a 4-year-old pug named Molly. "She'll do anything I need when I'm away. She has a lot of knowledge and she plays with Molly. In the past Molly has needed eye drops, creams and pills, and Cheryl had no problem with that. Once, when Molly injured her paw while I was away, Cheryl took her to the vet, gave her antibiotics and gave her paw soaks at home. Sometimes I'll ask her to text me a photo when I've been away for a long time. Molly just adores her."
"The most rewarding part of this work has been communicating with animals — they are so unconditionally loving," said Robinson. "It can be stressful when their owners are out of town. That's where my nursing skills I developed years ago come in. I have a way of making them feel calm, comfortable and loved.
"I just love my job."
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at Cory@theunion.com.
The Pet Whisperer
Lake of the Pines
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