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Should I disclose my disabilities to clients?

asked 2021-10-09 11:26:03 -0600

I recently had a client cancel a booking for dog walking because they were unhappy with my service. They said I wasn't watching their puppy enough, and they were right. Though they didn't say, I suspect that another reason was that I didn't always start the walks on time. These are all very valid reasons to decide to cancel on me.

The problem is that these things happened because I have ADHD, so they're not something I can just stop doing in an instant.

I feel if I had disclosed my disability upfront, they could have been more understanding, but I also fear that they could've outright rejected me sooner. I understand that I can't just use my ADHD as an excuse to do my job poorly, and I am genuinely trying to improve on these issues. However, I can't just fix them overnight. I could disclose my ADHD to future clients moving forward, but I feel very uncomfortable and embarrassed to disclose such information. Not to mention, I fear that they will view it as a disqualification and hire someone else. I feel very conflicted and am starting to wonder if I am even qualified to be a walker or sitter due to my disability.

Any advice anyone can give me on this?

Disclaimer I am not trying to slander or blame the owner. They were not aware of my ADHD and had very valid reasons to cancel. I am just looking for advice on how to handle my disability in regards to current and future bookings.

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answered 2021-10-09 12:14:32 -0600

If you think pet walking/sitting is a good match for you right now, Then focus on communicating what you can do. Before you set up bookings, communicate a clear agreement.

For example, ask “what time window are you OK with my starting a walk with rover? “ Instead of having a firm time expectation that you arrive at 12 noon, the client may answer, “I’m OK with your starting as early as 11am or as late as 1pm”. If you know that it might take you extra unforeseen time, start getting ready to be there at the earliest time agreed to, so if you get delayed you can course correct and still meet the pet’s(&clients’) needs.

Also, Consider the different pets have different level of needs. Puppies and kittens generally need the most attention. Perhaps they are not the best fit for you. It’s completely fine to set your profile to limit what pet ages, sizes, and species are a good match for you.

There’s no need to disclose your medical condition. In my opinion it’s really too much information anyway. If I’m a pet owner booking services, I want to know what that person is capable of doing for my pet / not any personal things in their life that I need to be concerned about.

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Thank you for your response! Unfortunately, I have other disabilities that make communication difficult, but I am working on it. I think I will take a break from puppies and kittens until I have more experience. I am a new sitter, so your advice was very helpful and appreciated!

Olivia D.'s profile image Olivia D.  ( 2021-10-09 12:49:28 -0600 ) edit
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answered 2021-10-13 19:27:39 -0600

I agree with Deb that you should get a time frame from clients for acceptable expectations. You are under NO obligation to disclose any medical issues. Yes, you should limit the dogs and cats you can care for properly to those that are easiest for you to manage. If puppies and kittens are too much for you right now, then don't offer to care for them. I don't have any medical issues that prevent me from being able to care for puppies and kittens. I just know I don't have any experience with them and therefore I am not the best fit for that age group.

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