New York Dog Walkers – I salute you.

In my lifetime, I’ve walked many dogs.  I had my own dog growing up, used to volunteer at the Animal Haven in Soho, and would occasionally dog sit for my friends.  I know that feeling of clipping on the leash and seeing your dogs tail go crazy in excitement.  But so many of us, especially in New York, need help with our dogs.  We can’t be home for every time the dogs needs to go out and do his business.  What’s more, folks want to make sure their dogs can stretch their legs and get some good exercise.  So – we hire dog walkers.

Lots of folks look at dog walking as the perfect job.  It’s straight forward, the pay can be good and the obvious – you get to be around dogs all day.  But after living the life of a full time dog walker for just one day, I’m here to tell you that it’s NOT EASY.  It’s not easy being a dog walker for a number of reasons.

  1. There’s a lot to remember.  It’s not as simple as “Walk a dog.”  Keys, pass-codes,  which elevator to take, dog personalities, which dog gets what feeding at what time, paperwork – there’s a lot going on.   I get tense just thinking about it.  After my first day, just being able to keep track of my own schedule and make sure I wasn’t forgetting the important details for every dog was starting to melt my brain.  I’m sure it gets easier over time and the more regular your schedule becomes, the better, but still – getting every little detail right takes a thoughtful person.
  2. Time off doesn’t come easy.  In sickness and in health, in blizzard and in heat – the show must go on.  The dog must be walked.  Paying clients expect their dog walkers to show up in all sorts of conditions.  That’s why they pay them.  Of course good clients don’t abuse their walkers, but there’s still a responsibility that each walker has to their client to always be there.  Besides trust, reliability is one of the more important traits of a good dog walker.  If your’e a walker, you can’t just call in sick whenever you want without making an effort to give your client other options.  You can’t make the dog NOT need to go potty.  That’s a crime against nature!
  3. The stakes are high.  Especially in neighborhoods with a lot of dogs, dog walking can be a competitive business.  So if you mess up or fail to meet your clients expectations of being on time, sending updates and doing honest work – dog owners can easily take their business elsewhere.  And if your reputation goes bust, it might be hard to win that back.  Who knows how much bad ratings will affect your ability to get more clients.  

After a full day of dog walking, I gotta say – I myself am DOG tired.  My feet are sore, and I’m already a seasoned New York pedestrian!  Still, I’m thrilled that I’m getting to do something I love and the dogs that I walked today are SO great.  SO GREAT.  I’m writing this just to make sure more people realize that being a dog walker is tough work.  It’s a real job that take a good person that’s trustworthy, can think on their feet and knows how to be responsible for a living, breathing thing.

So the next time you see your dog walker, say to them, “Thanks for taking such good care of my dog.  My dog and I are thankful that you’re around.”

Thanks for reading!


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Do dogs need winter coats? Sweaters?

Walking along 59th street towards Central Park, a dog with a bright blue sweater and matching booties walked past.  A safe distance away, my friend blurted, “Why do dog owners torture their dogs by dressing them up like that!?  The dog must feel utterly humiliated!”  I guess his rational is that dogs aren’t like people, and were designed to not need clothes.

Since today was the first day of the year when I felt my nose hairs freeze up and my teeth ache from the wind chill, I wondered – “Do dogs really need coats and sweaters in the winter?”  So I did a little research and it turns out that some dogs actually do benefit from having a coat or sweater to keep them warm.  What I found makes total sense.

Dogs that are small and have really short hair benefit more from wearing winter coats and sweaters.  Chihuahuas, Daschunds and even Greyhounds are breeds that lose their body heat faster than the average dog.  Puppies are also more susceptible to the cold.  If your dogs is shivering a lot and suddenly stops – THAT’s something to be concerned about. But a Husky wearing a turtleneck is probably a little over the top.  What do you think Mr. Jobs?

Steve Dogs

I know Apple isn’t the same without me.

Unless you’re making them wear one in really high temperatures, putting on an extra layer for warmth probably won’t harm the dog, so if it makes you feel better to play it safe and don’t mind the extra steps before going on your nightly walk, looks like it’s okay.  Still, I might avoid going overboard.  Exhibit A.

A Christmas Story Snow Suit

Imagine if a dog couldn’t ‘put his arms down.’ HIs belly laying flat on the ground.

Also, older dogs, especially ones with arthritis, suffer from the cold much more than younger ones with healthy joints.  So if you have an older dog, in addition to the outdoor coat, one might even consider getting them a heated dog bed or tucking them in with an extra blanket and after the goodnight belly rub.  Or I guess one could try one of these?  Hmmmm.

dog snuggie

Is she knitting him a sweater to wear over his Snuggie?

Especially when it snows, as much as dog booties make me giggle, they can protect your dog from tracking in salt that could contain impurities that you don’t want to be licked off their paws.  I mean – I’m Asian, so I guess I would even make a dog take off their shoes before letting them into my apartment.  There’s GOT to be a command that gets a dog to wipe their feet before coming into the house.  Anyone seen it?

Thanks for reading!

If you’re looking for local New York dog community that share pet sitting favors and like the idea of a play date, why not check out Waggit?

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