Featured Walker: Mike

Mike Hippensteel


Mike joined the DDI Family in the spring of 2015. He is one of our best walkers, focusing on the leash etiquette part of our company. He is very detail oriented and takes the time to get to know his clients and dogs, creating unique walking techniques and training specific to the dog’s needs. We are so happy to have such a dedicated employee and kind hearted person as part of our family. Check out his interview below!


Why did you decide to become a dog walker?

Early one Saturday morning, I received a text from a very good friend of mine showing a dog shivering in the snow and huddled in a very tight circle. I couldn’t tell in the photo, but from what my friend had said the dog was trapped between some high walls around her. My friend told me how they were headed to the airport for an important trip, but wanted to reach out to anyone for help.                                

I was so moved,  looking at terrified puppy and so  I hopped in the nearest cab and made my way down to the intersection where the puppy was located. From there I searched around until  I spotted the puppy, underneath the underpass, where the photo had been taken. During initial search, I ran into another person my friend had contacted. Together we worked in tandem to climb the concrete fence where the puppy was  and spent well over an hour trying to calm the pup down so that we could rescue her. With some turkey meat, we successfully lured her out. Her attitude changed once she was out of that confined space, full of love and happiness.                                                                                                       

You could tell she had just been to a vet, with a new hair cut and she had a collar with tags.  We called the number on the tags, preparing for the worst. However, the owner had checked her into the vet four days earlier and asked an associate to pick up his pup. The associate lost the pup later that day when they left the car door open. She  had been missing (presumably stuck in that pen) ever since.  It was an emotional reunion.  Being a part of this experience, I quit my job and decided I wanted to work with animals. After about a month, I found DDI and decided it was the right fit for me.

What is your favorite thing about the job? and DDI?

My favorite thing about being a dog walker is spending my whole day with dogs and being outside! The amount of exercise that I am able to get keeps me in great shape and puts a large smile on my face. The love that I experience from seeing new clients or even my favorite clients makes the rough winter days in Chicago worth it! There is nothing like puppy kisses as a tip! My favorite thing about DDI is the communication between the staff and the management. This is the first job I’ve had where I really feel like my opinion is not only heard, but valued. The response time and the amount of care that I have received from the management is out of this world! They do so much to make you feel like more than just an ‘employee.’ Thank you Lauren for establishing such an amazing culture!

Tell us about your passions/hobbies!

I’m a pretty active guy. I used to be a football player and although I don’t find much enjoyment in the sport anymore, I do find enjoyment in keeping physically active. I love to skate and practice dancing on my longboard. There is nothing quite like doing a turn or a cross step while gliding down the city streets, or shooting down a hill at an incredible rate of speed and come to a skidding halt.    

I also enjoy intellectual pursuits of reading graphic novels and anything with a bit of dystopian flair. It captures my attention and asks me to think about the direction that I am headed in my life. Some of my favorites are: The Watchmen; Alan Moore’s, Swamp Thing; V for Vendetta; 1984; Fahrenheit 451.                    

I also dabble  as an amateur beer connoisseur. I love to sample different and exotic flavors of beer. I highly recommend Empirical Brewery for anyone looking to try something new and exciting! Not only do they keep their menu fresh, but they also allow dogs!!!

What would you like our readers/clients to know most about you?

I love the relationships I am able to form with our clients and their dogs. It’s the number one reason I have stayed in this job and continue to push towards excellence. I treat your dog as though they are my own, with the same respect, the same love, the same care that I would give my own puppy. I really want to create an experience for you, as a client, and your pup that allows your relationship with one another to flourish. I know that sometimes we cannot spend as much time as we want with our puppies and any time we do spend is precious. One of my goals with my pups is that they are able to understand the human world they live in and the practices and habits that will help them excel. I hope someday to become a dog trainer and to take all that I have learned in the walking business with me. Until that time, I am going to continue to strive to be the best walker there ever has been!

We are so happy to have as part of the DDI Family!

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