When the doorbell rings at Fran Goulet's beautiful waterfront home in Madeira Beach, chances are it's another "guest" checking in.
Goulet is known to her clients as "Mommy Fran," an in-home or in-your-home dog sitter who treats your furry ones as if they were her own.
"I love dogs so much. It is my life. They are my babes," she says.
They are her babes, and the dogs seem to know it. "Murphy," the Wheaton terrier, has stayed here five or six times after his "mom" went looking online for a place for him to stay.
DogVacay.com is a website that connects you and your dog with a list of local people willing to host your dog in their home, or come stay in yours.
Wallace says she and Murphy did a meet-and-greet, and they were both sold on Fran.
"You can tell that she loves animals and I was very comfortable with her watching our dog. And our dog is very comfortable with her," Wallace said.
Trish Fridella was looking for a homey alternative for her little dog, "Boo Boo."
"I left him at a kennel once overnight and felt terribly guilty about the whole thing," she said.
Now, when her family goes out of town, Boo Boo stays at Mommy Fran's, where there are all kinds of canine comforts, including a wading pool and a jacuzzi.
Goulet says for her, it's all about the dogs.
"They're with me 24-7. I take them everywhere with me, I try to go to dog-friendly restaurants. They sleep in my bed with me."
Goulet has a degree in exotic animal management and years of experience too. But dogs are her passion.
So how much for this doggy home away from home? Goulet charges $30 dollars a day, then DogVacay.com takes 15 percent. That's comparable to many boarding kennels and pet motels, but Fridella says she's actually saving money.
"It seems like it might be a little bit more than a kennel, but after you add everything in the kennel, like the play time and the extra outings, it's actually cheaper," she said.
Goulet says business has been steady since she was approved as a Dog Vacay host last June. A spokesman for the company told FOX 13 they have a five-step vetting process for hosts, and only about a third of applicants make it through.
DogVacay.com also offers insurance for each visit, and a full money back guarantee.
Goulet is thrilled to have lots of repeat customers.
"They say to me, and it's been more than one, I can't believe how the dog got excited coming over the first bridge. They knew they were coming to Mommy Fran's," she said.
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