A Career Switch at Age 60
By Regina Elling
Like many people in today’s uncertain economy, Wanda Brennan, a longtime Ramona resident, has had to make changes to keep up with the times.
“At this point in my life, I thought I would have all the things I worked so hard for,” says Brennan, who lives in San Diego Country Estates.
But what Brennan actually had, at age 60, was not at all what she had envisioned. She had split from her longtime partner, the grants that sustained her job of 40-plus years had dried up, and she was unable to continue working in the career field that she loved.
“For 41 years, I was a maternal infant nurse,” she says. “It’s what I always wanted to be, other than a veterinarian.”
Her older sister, Gaille Brennan, also a SDCE resident, confirms the occupational prediction.
“From the age of 6, all of us in the family knew that Wanda was going to be a nurse,” says Gaille. “She has always been the chief medical adviser for our family.”
Originally a psychiatric nurse, Brennan made the switch to maternal infant nursing after having her own child. It was a career choice she never regretted.
“I loved it,” says Brennan.
She was so proficient at her job, she says, “I even delivered a baby in the back seat of a car and another in an elevator.”
During her years of dedicated nursing, her secondary career choice—becoming a vet—took a back seat. Meanwhile, her love of animals never waivered, and she always had a number of pets around.
But as the economy faltered, the grant money that kept her employed vanished.
“I was 60 years old,” she says.
After the loss of her job, she says she went through the normal stages of grief. But she also began searching for more work in her chosen field.
“I sent out more than 200 applications and got two interviews. But in both, I was told that I was too old and too experienced,” she says.
Never one to give up, Brennan decided to go in some altogether new directions.
“I tried a couple of other ventures, and had some highs and some lows,” she quips. “I realized that a job wasn’t going to just happen. I had to make it happen.”
She managed the up and downs with the help of her family, her friends,] and, of course, the various animals that were a constant in her life.
She finally decided that she had to approach the problem logically, and the first step on the road to success would be to identify a need that she could fulfill.
“At my age, you have to realistically figure out what you can physically and mentally do,” she says.
As she searched for inspiration, she continued to take care of pets.
“I’m a nurturer. I like being needed,” she says. “And I was always taking care of animals. I finally figured out that becoming a pet sitter was my new direction, and I had, in fact, been working at it for years.”
She began the new venture in earnest this past year.
“With Gaille’s help, we must have passed out more than 1,000 fliers, going door to door,” she says.
She also started a website and blog for her new business.
“I’ve had to do an awful lot of research and I’m still learning about using the computer. It hasn’t all been easy.”
Her years of looking after human infants has prepared her in many ways to handle pets with medical issues, and their concerned owners. As her business continues to grow, Brennan strives to keep improving her pet sitting services.
“I am not a dog whisperer, vet tech, or a trainer. But I genuinely love the animals,” she says.
She also encourages other senior citizens to not give up, but to continue to challenge themselves.
“You really have to have courage and take a leap of faith,” she says. “It’s not easy, but you have to get over the fear. It’s worth it. I love what I do, I love the animals, and I meet the nicest people.”
Brennan may be reached by visiting RamonaPetSitters.com or calling 760-443-3868.
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