Tuesday, May 13, 2014

City Dog: On Dogwalkers

I remember when I used to think Dogwalkers were an "exotic" profession used only by people in sitcoms living in huge high-rises.  And even just having a conversation with my sister who lives in St. Louis, she was surprised to hear that we actually used a Dogwalker.
While I originally got a walker because Miss M was an energetic dog needing a mid-day break, I've realized there are so many other reasons it's nice to have a Dogwalker we can call:

Getting a Break
While we really enjoy taking our pups for walks, we never wanted these walks to start seeming like a burden. When Miss M and I were living together as Bachelorettes, I had a couple of days where I would schedule a walker for her so I would could go out directly after work and not have to rush home just to let her out.

We've realized that it's good for the pups to get accustomed to being regularly handled by other people. Our dog walkers help reinforce our rules and the pups learn how to listen to the same commands when being instructed by different people.

Emergencies & Peace of Mind
Living in the city it can be difficult to find a neighbor willing to actually walk a dog (given that we don't have backyards) and with parking and public transportation issues it can be a lot to ask someone just to swing by. We like having a relationship with our dogwalker in case something comes up where we just can't make it home or we need someone to check on the pups. It was especially helpful during this extra-cold winter where they also helped check on our house and make sure our pipes didn't freeze.

Finding Trusted Walkers
Having a Dogwalker means that you are not only trusting that someone can properly handle your dog, but that you are also allowing them access to your home. I had heard several horror stories of people having bad experiences with dog walking services: one friend found out her dogwalker would hang out in her house and use her computer to check Facebook, another friend said she found out her dogwalker wouldn't pay attention to her pup and would just smoke and talk on the phone, someone else told me about a walker who would come to the home and sign in and not actually walk the dog. The woman thought something was wrong and she stayed home one day, hidden in her own home, to find out this was really happening.
We are a bit wary of the big services as it seems the walkers are changing all the time, and we found our Dogwalker through a friend's reference. We have had our walker for several years, and she has since started Dogma Petcare. She still walks our pups, but she has also added another regular walker for the pups. We like that the walkers needed to shadow her for several walks so they really knew everything before taking the pups out on their own.

It seems like so many of our friends out here use Dogwalkers.
Is this something that has just become a typical part of a dog-owners life? Or is it really something that is more common in cities?

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KS said...

We used a FABULOUS daily dogwalking/sitting company when we lived closer to DC - over the three years we used them, I think Vinnie had four regular walkers, all of them great (and none of them phased by caring for a pit bull type!). Now that we live further out in the 'burbs, I'm less pleased with our options, both in terms of price and reliability - but we're also using the service less in general. It's definitely my biggest single dog expense in aggregate, but Vinnie is a dog who absolutely needs a consistent routine, and dog walkers help us maintain that.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you've been able to find someone you trust with the pups.

I'm so nervous about letting someone in my home and let them be in charge of Boomer and Dottie whether they're a dogwalker or petsitter. Eventually I'm just going to have to let it go and try to find someone.

Unknown said...

Working midnights frees up my daytime to walk Bella at whatever time works best depending on the weather. I'm working on setting up my own dog walking service in my area now that the warm weather is here. It's sad that there are unethical people who take advantage of other peoples needs and violate the trust of letting a stranger into your home to take care of your canine companions while you're away.

Anonymous said...

We have a dog walker come midday, five days a week. Melvin is on pred so he can only go six hours before needing a break. And like you said, it lessens the guilt load if there is a delay at work, traffic or if a few errands need run before returning home. We vetted the company and are so happy with our walkers (two consistent women). They make me a better pet parent!

OG said...

I love my walkers! For years Petey had a wonderful woman who came all the way from Brooklyn. Sadly, she is ill. However our other dogwalker is great and sends text updates! If anyone wants his # I'm happy to recommend!

Rachel @ My Two Pitties said...

Out here in the 'burbs dog walkers are super popular as well, except they take out big groups(usually around 6 to 16 dogs) and let them off leash at parks, beaches and hiking trails.

Sometimes I am in awe. The dogs are so peaceful and happy, following the dogwalker around. Other times are a total nightmare and cringeworthy...dogs running around with leashes hanging from prong collars and shock collars galore:(

Being that I work from home, I've never needed one but if I did need it, I would definitely look for someone who take my 2 dogs on their own.

My Dog Barry said...

We have a regular dog walker to let Barry out in the middle of the day while my husband and I are both at work.

When we first adopted Barry I would take my lunch breaks to walk him and let him out. It became so hectic and I was frantically rushing around to catch the train, run home, take Barry out, catch the train back to work, etc. I couldn't handle the stress it put on me.

We quickly found our amazing dog walker. We live in the West Loop area of Chicago and our dog walker lives in our condo building. She is a certified/licensed dog handler and we trust her and her assistant. They are both great and always give us text updates. They only walk one dog at a time or a household at a time.

It's a small price to pay for peace of mind and to help break up Barry's day while we're gone.

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