Walking your dog is an integral part of their day and health. Many people work from 9-5 so typically do not have time to run home to take their dogs out – that is where we come into play. Dogs Deserve It provides meaningful, productive walks while you are unable to. The key to our success has been our focus on leash etiquette, walker tracking and our caliber of walkers. Most people do not realize what it takes to become a dog walker and how DIFFICULT it can be. DDI would like to educate our clients, and other readers, about the complexities of being a dog walker. Below are a few things that a dog walker has to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Being a dog walker can be a wonderful job. You get to be outside and not stuck inside a cubicle pining to take in some fresh air. However, being a dog walker in Chicago can be extremely trying. In a city known for its extreme weather, being outside eight hours a day can be down right terrible. There are days when it rains all eight hours of a walker’s shift and others when you can’t bare to be outside for even five minutes…even while wearing a snowsuit and ski mask. Not to mention the fact that most walkers bike or walk to their clients’ homes, so get little time for respite from the elements. During any inclement weather, the dog walker’s duties remain the same – no shorting walks and no calling in because it’s too cold. This job is not cut out for the thin skinned.
DDI gives a two hour time interval to get to all walks. We do this for numerous reasons, but mainly because the City of Chicago boasts one of the worst, most unreliable public transport systems. I’m sure many people have cursed the bus that seems to never come on time, but 30 minutes later three buses come trailing along all right next to each other. Imagine dealing with this 15 times a day all while dealing with a jam packed schedule – very frustrating! Yes, we have folks that also bike. But as we always warn our walkers – bike at your own risk. With many cars taking up bike lanes and drivers pure disregard for bikers, walkers unfortunately get doored, hit and almost always yelled at. It takes a very zen personality to block out all these annoyances and focus on their jobs.
The number one reason we have people walk through our doors is because they LOVE dogs. While we adore each dog that is part of our DDI family, we also acknowledge that working with dogs all day can be a test in patience and skill. You have to have the skillset to encourage the bulldog to walk, how to settle down the Vizsla, how to stop the Yorkie from constant barking and how to teach a puppy to stop picking up everything in sight. You have to clean up any disaster that you are met with whether that be pee, vomit or other fun things! In addition to this, you have to deal with different temperaments. Like people, dogs can have off days and decide that they just don’t feel like walking or even letting you near them.
Yes, folks, you’ve read right. Dog walking is utterly EXHAUSTING. You are on your feet eight hours a day, with little time for rest or lunch. There are days when you feel like walking is an impossibility. Your feet are swollen, you’ve ripped through every pair of shoes you own and your body is begging you to stop. This is the daily feeling of being a dog walker…just plain exhausting.
It’s always hard to have the compensation conversation with walkers. You are expected to adhere to all policy, deal with difficult dogs, brave the elements, endure the physical strain, all for barely minimum wage. I often think that if everyone was more knowledgable about what goes into dog walking, that we would be able to charge more and thus pay more. Unfortunately, most think of dog walking as a simple walk in the park.
The next time you see your dog walker, I challenge you to remember all of the complexities that go into dog walking and to thank them. Thank them for their unending devotion to your dog. Thank them for coming out in three feet of snow to make sure your loved one gets attention and exercise. Thank them for staying steadfast to their commitments. Simply thank them for being a dog walker.