From my own experiences meeting other walkers over the last twelve years in Toronto I can safely say that dog walkers are a very unique set of individuals.
Most of the walkers I know started in their late twenties or early thirties. Many of the walkers had jobs before that were completely unrelated to dogs, either in offices or other professional careers, or working in retail, the restaurant business, or a trade.
We come from all walks of life, income bracket, religions, and life styles. I love how we can connect at the off leash with our shared passion – the dogs. We are great at giving helpful advice to one another, and really are one big extended family. All personalities are represented and mesh together creating a wonderful mini community. Some of the walkers are single, others divorced, and some are married, straight or gay. We are a cross-section of today’s society with many differences, but also many factors that are the same.
I have noticed quite a few traits that all dog walkers have despite the varied differences. We don’t mind getting dirty since it is a daily occurrence. My laundry every week speaks volumes on my job, my pants with mud on them has been the theme this Sprinter. It has been too warm to wear splash pants to protect from the mud splat.
Dog hair is a given, on all clothing, jackets, gloves, pants, and seats of our cars. Lint rollers work, but the solution would only be temporary so I don’t bother. Dog fur in the car flies around nicely so it’s best to keep a closed mouth if the windows are down!
We get used to dog slobber – usually fresh and smeared on our pant leg, or, in the summer, on our bare arms or legs. We know the drill when the unexpected happens more than a couple of times a year… yes stepping in dog poop that was not picked up at the off leash. Yuck!
We help each other out by loaning dog treats or poop bags if running low and care for each other when life throws its curve balls. Recently a local dog walker named Paula died far too young from advanced cancer. Others walkers stepped in to walk her regular dogs, board others that were scheduled to stay with her and to send messages of compassion to her family. Two of my fellow walkers and good friends, Paul and Jeffrey put the word out that they were collecting funds to have a tree planted in her memory in the park she so loved going to with her pack of dogs. From what I understand the money needed for the tree was donated in a mere couple of days; I think over $600.00 from her clients and the dog walking community. This was presented to her husband in honour of her memory.
We are a brave bunch reaching into mouths to remove stuck sticks, garbage they quickly pick up and on occasion act as referees to break up a sudden fight, before it gets out of hand.
We are compassionate when dealing with our senior dogs and those needing extra T.L.C or “nursing care.” Dog walkers are essentially “parenting” at times, anticipating each dog’s quirks and thinking ahead. It is a lot like a school field trip when going to the off leash with a group of dogs. There are the pleaser dogs that like to be near the teacher, the challenging dogs (e.g. poo eaters) and the athletes – the dogs that go non-stop running and playing. Treat time is very similar to recess!
We put up with the weather all year round – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our conversations when we met often revolve around the forecast and how off the news has been with the weather lately, thank fully in our favor!
Dog walkers often have a list of injuries – it comes with the job. Twisted ankles, broken fingers, tweaked backs, bruises and many of us of us have orthotics from walking so much day after day, to slip in to our shoes.
Hopefully this gave you a sense of who we are. We walk dogs for the laughter/smiles they bring us and to others and for the love the dogs give back unconditionally. We like being included in many family lives and the adventure each day can bring!
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