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83 Year Old Entrepreneur: Resident Runs Pet-Sitting Business from Her Florida Senior Living Community

August 11, 2022

When Barbara Fox contemplated retirement, she didn’t envision moving to a Senior Community or enjoying carefree days of card games and bingo. And while she did move to The Palace Suites, an Independent Living Community in Miami, her days are now spent running her own business, “Help is on the Way.” The 83-year-old started the company in 2014 upon retiring from Interval International, a timeshare exchange company, after 20 years of service.

“Since I was 11 years old I’ve worked,” she explained. “I couldn’t imagine not working at something.”

Fox envisioned a business that assisted people with their day-to-day needs, whether picking up medication or drug store supplies, to walking and boarding dogs. She created a flyer for “Help is on the Way, and handed them to friends and posted them at her local gym.

With the first phone call, the business was off and running. She still has her first client who needed a dog walker. The most popular service was boarding dogs at her home and dog walking, but her large house was becoming a burden for the single divorcee. She was tired of worrying about home maintenance and hurricanes.

Fox moved to The Palace in Kendall and found the lock and leave maintenance-free lifestyle was well suited for her business. While she no longer could board dogs at her home, she transitioned her business to pet sitting at her clients’ homes.

Her work may involve much more than caring for a family’s beloved pets. She gets the mail and newspapers, takes out the garbage and waters plants. She typically works for families in the West Kendall area, Gables by the Sea and her business has grown through referrals.

Typically, she pet sits 10-12 nights per month but is able to still enjoy nightly happy hours, parties and crafting classes before returning to her four-legged clients at their homes.

“It’s a pleasure not to have to worry about my apartment while I’m away,” she said. “I’ll leave a note on my bed that the linens don’t need to be changed. Then, when I return and open the door, the apartment is spotless and smells simply lovely. I hated housekeeping and cooking and now it’s done for me.”

Among the highlights of her life at The Palace is living next door to her best friend, Gayle Rosenthal. “I always said if the apartment next to me becomes available, I want Gayle to be my neighbor,” she explained. Her wish came through seven months ago and the pair are thrilled to spend their retirement years as neighbors.

When asked if she’s ever had problems with a dog, Fox said, “They call me a dog whisperer. The secret is dog biscuits.” Her biggest client is a Bernese Mountain dog, but there are several Spaniels and Chihuahuas.

Barbara’s philosophy is making the most of every day and staying active. “I’m not working due to finances,” she added. “Working keeps me young at heart!”

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