Normal Day for a Professional Dog Walker

Dog Walking in MalibuThis is a guest post written by Jackie Bass, owner of Malibu Pet Care, a pet care company that offers dog walking services in Malibu, California.

When you do what you love, there is no such thing as a truly bad day… not to say there aren’t challenges. Owning my own pet care business has meant a ton of hard work, far more work than any corporate job has ever thrown at me… and yet, it is all so very worth it.

Today I start out with a morning walk before the sun has a chance to heat up the air, and the clouds still obscure the ocean horizon. My first visit of the day consists of two Staffordshire Bull Terriers and two French Bulldogs, to be walked separately in pairs. I love these dogs, we have our greeting ritual, our pet names, our routine. “Oh my big bullies! You ready for your stroll?”, I coo to the staffies. Lollie frantically searches for her tennis ball, excited about the fetch and retrieve activities that lay ahead. Bert is more laid back. He looks up at me with one open eye, wondering if it really is worth it to abandon his daydreams for the varied smells of the block.

Leashed up, the staffies power-walk down the block, little rose ears flapping like proud flags in the wind. I’m getting into the rhythm, and we’re all hitting our stride, when I feel a sudden jerk on the line. I look down and realize that Bert is lying on his back with his feet kicking in the air, and a huge smile on his face. Apparently, the super-sized stinker has decided that 200 yards is as far as he’s willing to go this morning, and he’s already petitioning me to turn back for home and resume his nap. Unfortunately, this was communicated in a secret language that not every human has the capacity to decipher.

As soon as the big galoot flops over, a well-meaning, but tightly wound, woman comes rushing out of her front door still sporting a pink bathrobe, fuzzy slippers, and giant curlers in her hair. She wants to know if she should call the emergency vet?! Her tone is half concerned, half accusing me of exhausting that poor dog to near death. I calmly point out that we were a mere five doors down from Bert’s home, and that he’s just being lazy. The concerned neighbor huffs back indoors. I’m sure Bert is laughing inside.

It’s these little moments that bring a smile to my face when people ask me what it’s like to be a dog walker. On an average day, I walk 8 dogs separately from 5 households, spanning 6 hours and covering 17 miles. It can be a pretty physically demanding job, particularly when you’ve got canyon trails involved and the sun bearing down on you.

Once the last dog is walked, it’s time to head home and shower quickly so that the next part of my day can begin: the business side of things. Answering phone calls, text messages, emailing GPS reports, and scheduling meetings with potential new clients. In order to keep doing what I love, there’s also the marketing, accounting, and billing. At the end of the day, I average 14 total hours of work from the time I walk that first dog until I send that last email.

The long hours and the hard work isn’t what I expected when I first started this business, but to take in the fresh sea air everyday and spend my time outdoors is all worth it. Not to mention, there’s just something satisfying about seeing the joy in dog’s faces when I come, and leaving them tired out so they can enjoy a better relationship with their guardians.