Through the eyes of Craig Morley, our very own Middleton Dog Walker.
The winter months can be tough for dog walkers. The rain comes down sideways, the wind whistles across the open plains and come the New Year all that Christmas excess can make it that bit harder to hike up hill and down dale with a pack of dogs by your side. Having said that, you’d be hard pushed to find a dog walker that doesn’t love their job no matter how bad the weather is.
I’m lucky; I have a great bunch of dogs and a genuinely lovely set of customers. That’s the perfect base to build on. I have all breeds, ages, shapes and sizes of dogs in my pack, from the little guys like Rex the miniature dachshund to the big fellas like Rupert the Cockapoo (one of his parents was a giant poodle and Rupert certainly got those genes!). The dogs, like the customers, become more than just mere acquaintances. They become genuine four-legged friends, they become a part of your life, they become confidants. I spend most of my day chatting away to the dogs. They never answer but that doesn’t stop me. I suspect any dog walker who says they don’t talk to their dogs isn’t being entirely truthful! Being a dog walker is about so much more than just clipping on a lead and heading out for some exercise with the gang.
There are some particularly interesting parts of a dog walker’s day. The journey between pick up and park or woodland can often be fun. I’ve had dogs singing (well, howling) along to the radio, I’ve seen toddlers waving at the cartoon dog on the side of the van (which was ADORABLE!) and I even had to play host to a group of school children on a field trip who wanted to know the breed of every dog I had in the back of the van. Out on the walk, I’ve had encounters with magnificent shire horses, I’ve been surprised by deer running across my path, I’ve heard a woodpecker in a tree on a warm summer’s day. It’s the stuff of dreams for someone who has only ever worked in an office or out of a car as a sales rep.
How many jobs can you genuinely say are fun? Mine is. It doesn’t matter if it’s blazing sunshine, pouring rain or ankle-deep snow, what could be better than getting out in the fresh air with a group of dogs who are every bit as enthusiastic as you are to be out among the beautiful scenery that our country has to offer? I get to meet other dog walkers; we both stand and watch as our two packs greet each other like long-lost friends. I talk to people who are just out for a stroll but who absolutely have to stop and say hello to the dogs I have with me because dogs are just so darn cute. I have fun and I really enjoy seeing other people joining in.
It can take a while to figure out some of the finer points of being entrusted to take care of much-loved family pets. It’s a role that any dog walker worth their salt takes very seriously. There are also some simpler guidelines to adhere to, some do’s and don’ts that help make life easier:
- Don’t take your pack near muddy puddles – it takes ages to clean off a filthy dog but try doing it six times.
- Do stock up on washing powder – the number of dirty towels that go through our washing machine is frightening!
- Don’t bother taking a sandwich with you for lunch – the dogs give you the death-stare until you hand it over.
- Do consider taking lasso lessons – every dog makes a bid for freedom at some point.
- Don’t forget, every now and then, to stop and look around and count your blessings. There are a great many of them when you’re a dog walker.
No matter how enjoyable the job is, it hasn’t all been plain sailing. I had three dogs who got their leads so tangled it took me an eternity to separate them, much to the delight of the dogs who thought it was hilarious! I’ve walked dogs who are as good as gold on lead but who turn into mud-seeking missiles when they are given a bit of freedom – the worst culprit is our own dog who finds every mud-filled ditch she can and bathes in it! I’ve had dogs lead me a merry dance as I try to get them back on lead, all the while with a look on their face that says, “Good luck with THAT, buddy!”. But no matter how many challenges I’ve had, there is nothing – NOTHING – like having one of your pack look up at you with those adoring eyes that dogs have before rolling on to their back for you to give them a belly rub. To know they trust you unequivocally is the ultimate reward. It almost makes me think I’d do this job for free. (Just don’t tell any of my customers!)
Are you looking for a good work/life balance?
A healthier lifestyle?
A change of career?
If you’ve thought about running your own business, but are not sure where to start, we may have the perfect opportunity for the dog love in you!
Our Dog Walking Franchises are suited to enthusiastic, sociable, dog-loving people who are looking for a flexible business that fits in with their lifestyle.
For more information on how you could start your own Dog Walking Business in your area contact Digs for Dogs today!