by Sarah Stevens, founder
When I got my first dog Casper I worked as a childminder so being there for him was never a problem. However, changing jobs meant longer hours away from him, and one of my dog walking friends told me about her fantastic dogwalker, the perfect solution! Peace of mind for me and knowing Casper was getting a good walk to break his day up with a person I trusted.
Moving location meant finding a new dog walker, which wasn’t easy, and my new walker was not quite up to my expectations. I was always slightly jealous of someone else having fun with my dog and thought I could do a better job myself. This planted the seed in my mind, but having a young family meant it was too much of a risk going self-employed and starting from scratch. As my children became older and more self-sufficient I knew I could begin what I’d been longing to do for years, my own little dog walking business.
I’d worked with horses for 10 years after finishing A-levels and being with animals has always been a big part of my life. Immediately I had people I know saying they would love me to be their dog walker, as they also struggled to find someone reliable and trustworthy. I did the research, took the plunge and am eternally grateful to my first customers taking a leap of faith with a new person they didn’t know, never an easy thing to do.
It was a steep learning curve, getting to know each dog individually and how to get a good bond with them so they trust me and we have good fun walks with them listening and wanting to be with me. Learning how to introduce a new dog to a group and which ones work well together to organise groups can be a challenge but it is so rewarding when you see the benefit it has for the dogs.
One of my very first customers (who still is I’m pleased to say) is a nervous romanian rescue. Wary of strangers, fearful and reactive, I began my journey into learning more about their behaviour and how to build trust and confidence. Dogs’ have such individual characters, understanding their needs and how to help them settle in and enjoy their time with me is such an important part of the job.
Making sure everything was in place to be doing everything correctly was another learning curve.
Dog walking insurance, correct car insurance, CRB checks, dog first aid training, spare leads/collars/harnesses, water bottles and bowls big enough for groups of dogs but not too heavy to be carrying around all day, poo bags (lots of!!), treats (essential for new dog bonding and recall!!), finding suitable places to walk which aren’t full of rubbish (local parks are a nightmare!).
Requests from my regular walking dogs for daycare and boarding led to a move to a bigger house to enable me to do this, but expanding meant I could not do the walking, daycare and boarding 7 days a week on my own! I am very dedicated to the dogs in my care and as I aim to be there for them 7 days a week I needed more help, and perfect timing as my husband Pete was unhappy in his job and we embarked on the daycare and boarding side of things together.
I now have a fantastic team which enables us to be reliable, flexible and available nearly 365 days a year, something I could not do alone. Being surrounded by happy faces and wagging tails all day is the best thing ever.
Passing my knowledge and experience on to the people I work with is very fulfilling, I enjoy organising training with behaviorists and first aiders so we can ensure the team and our customers are up to date with latest developments and the dogs in our care are getting the very best.
We hope your dogs can join us for their next adventure.