Today started with an early visit to some of my feline friends so I was up at 7.30am getting ready for my first job. No Saturday morning lay in for me! After the 30 minute visit I made my way to a village on the outskirts of Peterborough to meet some new customers and their 3 dogs. They’re going on holiday soon and so the dogs are being looked after by a relative who isn’t able to walk them during the day. This seems to be a popular option for dog owners these days rather than kennels, nice for the dogs to be in their own home. The dogs seemed to approve of me and we arranged to have a walk together nearer the time so that they are used to me before their owners go on holiday.
Next stop was a 1 hour walk with Obi the Doberman Cross. She was sporting her new harness which has a thick black strap with the words ‘Sports Dog’ on the side. It was a sunny day so had my sunglasses on. We passed a lady sitting on a wall who started to say something to me, looked at me, looked at Obi and then said “Oh I’m so sorry she’s working.” I walked a few more steps thinking ‘did she just… urr…what did she say??’ Yes I actually just got mistaken for a blind person and Obi actually just got mistaken for my guide dog…. Little did this lady know that Obi would make the world’s worst guide dog and would happily drag me in front of a moving car just for a dropped crumb or chip! Could not stop chuckling to myself all the way back to Obi’s house.
I had some lunch and at 12.30 I went out again to do a 1 hour walk with 2 dogs who I see every now and again when their owner is out for the day or unable to get home from work. It’s always comical walking 2 dogs at the same time on lead, you usually end up with the leads wrapped around your legs as if they’re trying to take you down. Luckily today was a nice day as leads wrapped round you, wind and rain, hair in your face and trying to pick up dog poo is like an ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’ challenge!
A 15 minute drive to my next customer, another 1 hour dog walk. I see this lovely girl, a Greyhound Cross, occasionally when her owners are out for the day at the weekend although this time was because her human had a broken ankle and so was unable to walk her. She was eager to go for a walk and have a sniff around.
Then back home again after stopping off to get petrol and dropping off a door key to a customer whose cats I had been feeding and its 3.30pm, legs are aching after 3 hours of walking!
Back out the house again at 5.45 to do an hour’s dog walk in the most beautiful little village. One thing that’s been great about becoming a dog walker is discovering hidden gems that I may never have come across. This village is one of them, it even has its own red telephone box which has been turned into a book swap! So cute.
After an hour of power walking I settled my buddy in, fed her and checked on the horses that live in the field next door and it was time for my last visit to 2 dogs who needed feeding and lots of cuddles. They are such little characters and HAVE to be fussed at the same time or they get jealous so luckily I have 2 hands! I stayed a little bit longer than the 30 minutes as they are just too cute and kept giving me ‘the eyes’.
Finally got home at 8.30pm and made dinner. Up again early tomorrow!
I’d always worked in admin, it was something I fell into when I was 18 and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or what career path I wanted to go down. It will do for now I thought. 11 years later and with the prospect of turning 30 and still not feeling like I was where I wanted to be, I decided I needed to make some changes. I’d thought about the idea of starting a dog walking and pet sitting business many times over the years, even came up with a name and logo at one stage but always ended up telling myself I couldn’t do it or it would be too difficult and many other excuses. It did seem a risk going from a guaranteed monthly income to being self-employed but it was always in the back of my mind and having had such special bonds with my own dogs I knew I wanted to work with them in some way.
I can’t remember exactly what that final push was. Maybe it was being told that I had to start recording my every move, including how long I stopped to talk to a colleague and how long I was in the toilet for, seriously?! Or having to come up with 3 things I wanted to achieve in my admin role for a personal development review with my manager. I couldn’t think of 1 let alone 3! My heart really wasn’t in it. I looked at all the research I had done into starting my own business and daydreamed of what it would be like to be my own boss as well as working with animals all day. I looked out the window from my office one day with its scenic view of the car park opposite and thought do you know what I’m going to go for it!
After a lot more research and planning I came up with a business plan and that was it, I’d made up my mind, no going back, it was going to happen. When I started telling people my plans I was mostly met with surprise as I had kept my plans so quiet but also a lot of positivity and wishes of good luck. There were of course a few negative comments, “Ooo do you think that’s a bit risky?”, “Are you sure?”, “What if it doesn’t work?”, “Who’s going to pay someone to walk their dog?” This only served to make me want to go for it even more.
My last day in the office was a strange one, I was excited to start my new career but also sad to be leaving the team I had worked with for the last 4 or so years. They weren’t just colleagues but friends and we had so many laughs and good times in between the seriousness, sadness and stress of a Children’s Social Care department. Although when I walked out those doors for the last time I did feel a sense of relief and freedom!
A week or so later I had my first walk with one of my first customers, a handsome black Labrador called Rocky, such a lovely natured boy and a real character. I soon came to realise he had a talent for finding the biggest stick and not letting go of it for the whole 1 hour walk, and sometimes this big stick was more like a small tree! He also seemed to enjoy whacking me on the back of the legs with it! From then on I knew I was going to love my new job 🙂
So here goes my very first blog post!
It was my first day back today after 10 days off over Christmas and New Year and boy did my legs get a shock! My arms and shoulders too for that matter! After not much physical exercise and eating my weight in chocolate over the festive period I was not prepared for that first cold and energetic power walk of 2017. I’m starting to think I should do warm up exercises in the mornings as I definitely felt like I’d had a full body workout after an hour of brisk walking along with my arms being pulled in every direction trying to stop Obi the Doberman cross from grabbing the loaf of bread somebody had kindly left on the path, I’m assuming for the birds. Obi can sniff out a dropped slice of pizza, half eaten sandwich and random edible objects from a mile away. She could be a police sniffer dog if there were ever a crime involving a cheesecake that is…
Like Obi I was greeted by my other buddies throughout the day with excitable barking, wagging tails and licks to the face. I like to think their greetings are because they’ve missed me as much as I’ve missed them but It’s probably more to do with me being ‘the one that takes us for long walkies and then gives us a treat!’
One of my 1 hour walks was with a beautiful Labrador who is just bursting with energy and so I decided I would put her on an extendable lead so she could have more room to have a wander around and a little run. Unfortunately for me I didn’t anticipate that she was going to start sprinting like Usain Bolt! With me still attached to the other end of the lead you can use your imagination as to what happened next, ouch! Most of my customers like me to keep their dogs on lead so I seem to have something inside me that says ‘DON’T LET GO!’
My last walk today (now with muddy jeans) was with Jack, I walk him once a week through The Cinnamon Trust which is a charity that I signed up with last year. It’s an amazing charity that helps elderly and terminally ill people and their pets, finding volunteers to walk or foster pets if the owners are not able to themselves. Very rewarding and something which I’d love to write about in more detail in the future.
When I got home I have to say I was pretty tired and my calves were aching, probably from trying to stop myself face planting the mud earlier! Still, I’m looking forward to whatever the day has to bring tomorrow 🙂