Lifelong animal lover Leticia has always felt connected to canines. She grew up with dogs of her own and recalls that she used to be the person people would reach out to when a pet was abandoned. “I was the house where someone would come and say ‘hey, we’ve got this dog’ and I’d have a backyard full of them,” she said of her efforts to help as many pets as she could. “I’ve always been the dog person. I’m just a sucker for them.”
Years later, Leticia and her family found themselves living in a house with a fully fenced backyard in Bellflower, California. She was intrigued when she heard of Sniffspot on a short news segment. Connecting dogs in need of off-leash freedom with hosts who could rent out their properties? “It sounded like a cool idea, so I looked into it more.”
Leticia had already been interested in using her outdoor space to make some extra income by hosting parties or other events, but the liability of large gatherings made her nervous. Sniffspot was the perfect fit: A safe, simple side gig that perfectly matched her dog-loving background.
She knows firsthand how hard it can be to care for a dog without a yard
Leticia grew up on a large property in Alabama where she got to enjoy the company of dogs. Later on her family moved into an apartment — and she experienced firsthand the struggle of spending time indoors without ample room to play. “I felt caged,” she said of the transition from her childhood house to their new building.
As an adult, Leticia lived in an apartment once again, this time with a pit bull mix named Cowboy. He was a great dog, but the tight living situation — without any easy access to greenspace — made it hard to meet his exercise and enrichment needs. Eventually, her family made the heartbreaking decision to surrender him in hopes that another home would be able to provide more fulfillment.
Cowboy’s memory has become a huge reason for Leticia to give back through her Sniffspot. She knows dog parks aren’t for everyone (and simply aren’t accessible in some communities) but that every dog owner wants to give their pets a full life. “I understand what it’s like,” she said. “Sometimes you keep yourself from getting a dog you really want because you’re in an apartment and don’t think it’s possible, but now that things like [Sniffspot] exist, it is.”
Becoming a Sniffspot host is a win-win for everyone
Leticia loves giving fellow dog owners in her community the chance to enjoy safe off-leash time with their pets, especially because she knows those opportunities can be the difference between a lifelong happy ending or a heartbreaking shelter tale.
Beyond giving back? Leticia also enjoys the extra income and connections she’s made through Sniffspot. She was able to quickly set up her space to rent out, spending less than a hundred dollars to get started. Her face lights up when she talks about guests leaving her positive reviews, and she recognizes a few regulars who keep coming back.
Leticia particularly loves seeing dogs and kids play together. She wants to emphasize that even if families don’t live in the ideal environment, platforms like Sniffspot make it possible for children to grow up knowing the love of a dog. ““You can bring your kids with you, too!” she said. “You can still let your kids grow up with a dog.”
She wants her yard to provide peace for pets and their people
“If friends come to my door and I don’t answer, they literally just go out back. They know that’s where I’ll be,” Leticia said about how much she loves her backyard. “It’s really peaceful.” She can sit in stillness and listen to the birds chirp, watch plants soak up the sun, and breathe in the fresh air. Her resident dog enjoys the reprieve, too — six-year-old Bulldog mix Sally loves to amble around the property sniffing interesting smells. She occasionally flops onto her back for a classic roll in the grass, paws outstretched, mouth open in a happy pant.
While her own dog is pretty laid back, Leticia is thrilled to see more energetic Sniffspot guests taking advantage of her space to romp and play. She knows that a safe area free of distractions is important to so many dog-owner teams — she’s happy to create an environment where pets are able to feel comfortable enough to both relax and enjoy their favorite games. (As a bonus, Sally gets to sniff everyone’s left-behind scent trails after visitors leave — meaning it provides her own dog with extra enrichment, too. Hosting truly is a win-win!)
Leticia’s favorite memory of hosting so far? Watching a family of travelers come through with a picnic lunch one afternoon. When she glanced out the window, she saw a scene reminiscent of her own favorite childhood memories: A teenage daughter laughing and playing with the family dog while her parents enjoyed a break from the stress of traveling. “I remember doing that at our house growing up,” she said. “We’d have a big old blanket in the front yard and we’d sit outside and eat.” She loved seeing a family hanging out together, enjoying nature and each other all without modern distractions like technology and fast-paced stress.
Advice for new Sniffspot hosts: “Don’t overthink it”
Leticia says renting her yard out to fellow dog owners has exceeded her expectations. When she first opened up her Sniffspot, she purchased a few toys from the local Dollar Tree, confirmed her booking settings, and that was all it took. “It’s really easy,” she said about the process. “Just get started and see where it goes.”
Once her backyard rental was up and running, Leticia focused on keeping things in perspective. She had nothing to lose! While it’s possible to be pretty hands off as a Sniffspot host, she’s enjoyed engaging with the local community on forums and sharing what she gets to do with her space. Above all, she’s remained centered on her original goal: Helping everyone — dogs and people alike — be able to enjoy a few moments of peace.
She started out with just a few simple pieces of furniture, but as time has gone on, Leticia’s added more and more to her Sniffspot space. “I put a lot of the money from Sniffspot back into the yard,” she said, sharing how she’s added more tables, chairs, and dog toys to spruce up her listing over time. Visitors can also pay a small extra fee for use of her doggie pool.
Cycling her profits back into her yard and giving guests the option of purchasing “extras” has enabled her to keep her hourly price low. She knows the value she provides to the community — and she loves knowing that her yard is accessible to those who might need it to fulfill their pets.
Looking towards the future
On top of renting her yard to fellow dog parents, Leticia has also started selling her own homemade dog treats. (You can get a free sample when you visit her Sniffspot!)
In the near future, she’s most excited to support Sniffspot’s initiative for displaced dogs. She loves the idea of providing free off-leash time to people involved in the rescue community. Foster pets can get the decompression they need while their caretakers benefit from some extra rest, too.Beyond that, Leticia wants to keep exploring ways to both engage with her local pet community and make some extra income. “I’m excited about whatever else comes next!” she said about her future plans. “This gave me a good foundation to get started. I always have ideas,” she added with a laugh.