Special to AFN

Eleanor Marsh last week marked 12 years of being a kind of professional grandma to strangers.

Her pet-and-house-watch business, While You’r Away Services, makes her feel that way.

Of the pets she has watched, Marsh said, “Where else can you be blessed to have 12 years of love and kisses? Every little one has their own unique personalities. Each one holds a special spot in my heart and I feel that when mom and dad are gone, grandma is here.”

Marsh started her business not long after friends had suggested that Ahwatukee “needed a good customer-oriented pet-and-house-watch service “that would be customized to the customer’s particular needs and deliver with a positive professional attitude.”

After what she called “intense strategic planning, While You’r Away Services became a reality.

An Ahwatukee resident since 1989, Marsh said she and her four employees, with a combined 40 years of field experience, are bonded and trained.

Her contact with a client begins with a “meet and greet” that “gives us the opportunity to meet the client, their pet or their home. At this time. we further discuss their particular needs and special requests that they have in mind.”

Marsh leaves no room for worry with her clients, sending them texts and photos of their home or pet every day while they’re away after her visits.

The services vary, as do the visits.

“We have clients that have regular visits for three or four weeks, and other client go away for five or six weeks and we stay overnight,” Marsh said. “Then we have clients for whom we give potty breaks during the day. We customize each visit to the customer’s needs.”

Her career path has been varied.

A onetime sales representative for a major computer company, Marsh ran her own interior-decorating company and also worked positions in the banking industry.

While they may not have had much to do with animals, she said, “all these companies have been very customer-service oriented.”

Besides, she added, “It was good training for anyone wanting to start a unique and customized business of any kind, but also someone with deep love and passion for animals.”

While Your’ Away Services offers protection for vacation homes and rental properties as well as people’s primary residences.

Visits include a complete visual inspection of a property’s interior and exterior as well as a check of pools and irrigation systems. She also checks the refrigerator, thermostats and air conditioning and flushes toilets. And she makes unscheduled inspections after a severe storm.

Marsh said she has only one ambition for her business as it enters its 13th year: “My long-term goal is to continue to provide each client with exceptional service so they know they can leave their most previous ones without worry or stress.”

Information: whileyouareaway@yahoo.com or 480-287-4897.

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