Happy Pet Sitters Appreciation Week!

Happy Pet Sitters Appreciation Week!

It’s the 23rd annual Professional Pet Sitters week, a time in which we celebrate our employees’ positive qualities- offering reliable, professional, loving care to our clients’ pets, being great team players, and generally excellent people. We are in our sixth year of business and our team has grown to include so many wonderful animal lovers committed to quality in this rewarding profession. While pet sitting is as fun as you’d expect (who wouldn’t love spending hours of their day playing fetch, rubbing bellies, scratching chins and wiggly butts?), Equipaws takes its pet care seriously, and so do our employees.  Our pet sitters provide reliable care, work in teams in their respective neighborhoods so they can back each other up, attend pet care training (including Pet CPR & First Aid, leash work, how to deal with dog attacks), and more.
Thanks to Kira, Kristen, Mike, Leigh, Sam, Kara, Kat, Natalie, Kesi, Jake, Susan, Nicolle, Ashley, Elaine, and Sophia for their daily hard work and service! Our company only exists because of the loving, hard work you put in every day of the week. We know that working during holidays and when you could be vacationing takes a special kind of commitment, and we certainly appreciate it. You’re rock starts and the reason we can keep providing the amazing care we do for our hundreds of clients. We love you!

Meet Our Pet Sitters: Stefanie Caro, of Raggid Art

Miami artist Stefanie Caro in front of her mural

Our pet sitters are supportive, loyal animal lovers who do a wonderful job caring for our clients. They are also very talented outside of the pet sitting profession! Stefanie Caro, one of our pet sitters in Brickell, is an artist who expresses herself in many mediums (check out her website, RaggidArt.com). We are so proud of her because she recently completed a gorgeous commissioned mural in Jupiter (pictured above). We have also commissioned pet portraits from her for friends and family. They were so spot-on that we wanted to share her beautiful illustrations and artwork with you, and delve into her process a bit. Read on if you’d like to get to know the process behind creating art in Miami, are curious about how to commission the perfect artistic gift, or if you’d just like to get to know her a little better!

Pet Sitter, Artist, All-Around Wonderful Human!

Stefanie is one of our most hardworking pet sitters in Brickell. It’s no coincidence that her solid work ethic permeates all layers of her life. Often times, people have the image of artists being free-spirited flakes; that’s not the case with Stefanie. “The thing about creative outlets is that they attract people who are very emotional. Some people wake up and change their minds and flake out and it’s justified on their end. But it’s not what gets you to progress. I will be there when I say I’m going to be there and work as hard as I can until I’m satisfied.”

Her latest commissioned work was a mural for DD’s Cupcake Shoppe in beautiful Jupiter. The mural took her five days to paint, working from eight in the morning to six in the evening, stopping only when the sun went down and it got too dark to see. She laughs, “The stupid perfectionist in me has to get it right. Ill get caught up in a cat’s whisker for 10 times as long as I should. I’m my own worst critic; the people I’m making things for wouldn’t be able to tell a difference between a day’s work and 5 days’ work but I’ll be able to tell the difference and that’s what bothers me. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night.” We love her work and think her persistence and perfectionism are evident in the finished product.

Becoming an Artist

Many people see such talent and wonder where artists got their start. Stefanie has been an artist as long as she has memories. “I don’t remember when I wasn’t drawing. I found this drawing I made in preschool. We were supposed to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a pencil in my hand, my hand has a thousand fingers and the pencil has this crazy curly lead that was drawing myself. It’s something involuntary to me at this point. It’s ingrained in me. It’s the most effective way that I can communicate. As I kid I was very quiet and shy and hated phones. I didn’t make a call till college. Art has always been a way for me to express myself. It’s not so much always about me. I want to say things about other things as well.”

The Meaning of Art

“I loved being a kid and growing up with stories. That needs to be continued; if not we are all lost. I get sad when I see kids with toy cell phones. What are we teaching kids? That’s not real, not life, doesn’t do anything for them. It doesn’t push them beyond boundaries- it’s not thinking, not creative, not playful.”

“Art is very important to me. It’s one of the first things as a species we used to communicate ideas to progress as society. It’s sad the way things go now that art is very commercialized and I don’t think that’s where it should be going, especially in Miami. Some people tell me to cater to what sells, then you won’t be broke all the time. I don’t want to. If I’m to create with a paycheck in mind, I might as well go dance on tables. At the end of the day they’ll both make me feel like shit.”

Stefanie’s Preferred Medium: I love ink. I love using fountain pens and quills and that mechanical stuff. I love that. Watercolor…I like it but I hate that I can’t control it like other paint, it’s a hate/ love relationship. Someone told me to try gouache and I’m working with it. Hard to find. But there’s a certain satisfaction to going to the store and trying things instead of shipping. Trying things out.”

Focus:  I have a graphic novel I’ve wanted to write for years. I want to focus on writing that and organizing it. I’m not the best writer; I’m trying to talk to a few of my friends who have experience with writing graphic novel steps to produce and market it. Right now I’m hiding away from the scene taking time off to do some research how to get this thing started.

The Artist’s Influences: I used to be a big Disney dork; growing up reading fairy tale books and illustrated children’s books I was always really interested in animation and wanted to be an animator for a long, long time or illustrate a story. So I think that artwork is a lot more interesting when there is something behind it instead of ‘I had an impulse and I picked up a paint brush.’ It’s cool but I can’t relate to that as much as something with a background…I’m influenced by nature, animals, the organic world, cells and bacteria and insects, and things that live inside other things. I love all that nonsense.”

Our local artists are a positive force in Miami’s development as a cultural center. Stefanie is an important, versatile member of this movement, mastering illustration, murals, digital work, and photography. We’ll show you her wonderful pet portraits and delve into her passions in our next blog post.

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Dog Friendly South Miami Rotary Art Festival

dog family events

Dog Friendly South Miami Rotary Art Festival

Save the date for the 32nd annual dog friendly South Miami Rotary Art Festival from February 21-22, 2015! As a member of the South Miami Rotary Club, owner Flavia has enlisted her Equipaws pet sitters to volunteer for the second year in a row at the Art Festival’s “Doggie Hydration Station.” As always, South Miami is very welcoming to well-behaved dogs. Please bring your pups out on leashes to experience one of the best art festivals in South Florida. We will have grain-free treats and fresh, cool water available for them on both Saturday and Sunday!

Dog Friendly Art Festival in Miami

Our pet sitters volunteered at the 31st art festival last year and can confidently say it is a great dog-friendly event. The dogs we met last year were well-behaved, social, and had a fun time hanging out not only with their families, but also meeting other sociable doggies. The street offers covered sidewalks to keep pets’ sensitive paws safe, and there are complimentary doggy-doo bags in addition to cool water and treats that we provide. Wondering if a crowded art festival is the right place for your pup? Keep these in mind:

  • If your dog is nervous around crowds of people or other dogs, you should definitely keep them home.
  • Senior dogs and puppies can tire more easily; plan around your pet’s endurance levels.
  • Is your female pup in heat? Please keep her comfortable at home.
  • Brachycephalic dogs need to be carefully monitored for heat exhaustion (pugs, shih tzus, etc.)
  • Is your dog unruly on a leash? Go over training with him before bringing him out to an exciting event like this. Set him or her up for success instead of failure! (And please, for the love of your dog, yourself, and those around you, don’t use a retractable leash).

South Miami Rotary Art Festival Details

The South Miami Rotary Art Festival brings over 150 artists to downtown South Miami every year, closing Sunset Drive (SW 72nd Street) from US1 to Red Road (SW 57 Avenue), parallel to The Shops at Sunset Place. The Berti girls grew up going to the art festival and enjoying the area; it’s full of restaurants, great boutique shopping, and historic buildings). This small strip lends itself to a cozy experience for the family-friendly festival. Chances are you have driven by it but not actually walked in; there is always something for everyone, from princess tutus to face painting, fine art to a fine dining food court, beer garden, and live jazz.

We admire that the festival is produced completely by our fellow Rotarians of the Rotary Club of South Miami and its Rotary Foundation. They invite artists from all over North America. It is also a boon to the local economy, bringing 25,000 people for that weekend. Even better, proceeds from the festival go to fund college scholarships for South Miami students, and other service projects, both locally and internationally.

Admission is free for patrons with parking in garages and the street.

Where: 5750 SW 72 St., South Miami, FL 33143

When: February 21-22, 2015, Saturday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM and Sunday 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Saturday night there will be live jazz onstage until 8:00 PM in the beer garden at 58th Avenue and Sunset).

For more information: Email info@southmiamiartfest.org or call 305-769-5977, or visit Southmiamiartfest.org.