dog walkers

Kasidy, the contemplative dog walker (part 3)

fullsizerender-11“The only limitation of this job is that it is very physically demanding.

I try shoe inserts, take ibuprofen as needed, and am aware of my posture and try to walk as efficiently as possible.

The concrete is hard on the body.  I walk between 7-9 hours a day.

Another downside of the job is the weather– extreme heat, rain and cold can be difficult.

Whenever I am coming to work, riding on the train, I take the first 15 minutes to meditate.

I meditate on the word emptiness.  I try to mimic their openness.

I try to just enjoy where we are in that moment.”

Kasidy, the contemplative dog walker (part 2)

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“It’s also easier to start the day with a lot of excitement.

The dogs are always eager to see me.

I am really emotionally bonded with Earl because it took so long to earn his trust.

At first he was very skittish and then apathetic, but there came a time, a few months in, that I noticed his tail would wag and he would start this happy howl when I came.

That’s a great feeling.”

Kasidy, the contemplative dog walker (part 1)

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“I am an actor, formally, and I needed a nice job with flexibility.

I tried a lot of other jobs, like handing out fliers in Times Square in costume (I was John Lennon in a Sargent Pepper outfit, a sailor in a pink outfit to advertise La Cage Au Folles when it was on Broadway), receptionist at a gym, and then I found dog walking.

It is a lot less emotionally degrading.

I like lots of things about the dogs.

I like that other’s no ego or persona.

The dogs just are who they are.

They are always living in the moment.”

 

Kirsten, the animal lover and pet care giver (part 2)

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“Two of the dogs that I have a deep connection with are Carter and Rocky.

I have been taking care of Carter for 3 1/2 years.  I met him when he was 6 or 7 months old.  He is a very sweet dog–  it’s the way he interacts with dogs and people.  When he meets dogs and people he puts them at ease.  Even though I can tell he’s excited, he gets low to the ground or finds a way to be non-threatening, and patiently lets the other dog sniff for as long as it takes for the other dog to be comfortable.

He seems to be able to judge if a person is interested or unsure or afraid.  He matches people’s behavior.  If someone is interested, he approaches them right away, but if someone is sure or afraid, he gives them their space and lets them be.  He’s always up for a good time.  He adapts to any situation.

I brought him home with me for Christmas, which involved a car ride with my siblings who he’d never met and then meeting my human, canine and feline family in a new place in the suburbs.  He had a blast and chimed my family completely.

The one split second where he lost his cool, and gave in to his dog instinct, he tried to play with the cat.  The cat was having none of it and fled.  Carter went back to socializing with the rest of us (humans) and new dog friend, unphased.

I started walking Rocky at the same time as Carter and we just clicked right away.  He had a lot of energy and was very outgoing.  He seemed as excited as I was to go out on the streets of NY and see the sights.  He was my co-pilot.  I took him on multiple guided walking tours of Central Park through the Conservancy.  I would keep him out for entire afternoons even if he was only scheduled for a short walk.  I even once asked his owner to bring him to a dog luau that I was bringing Carter to, so that I could hang out with my dog friends on the weekend.

Last Spring Rocky started knuckling under with his hind right paw.  That leg continued to get weaker.  Eventually, he was diagnosed with a degenerative spinal chord disease.  He got around on wheels for a few months, which meant he could still find grass to graze on and patrol for squirrels.

The disease was progressive and incurable and ultimately took his life.

It was an honor to help his family take him to the end of his journey.”

Kirsten, the animal lover and pet care giver (part 1)

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“I started grad school and dropped out within a couple of weeks.

I needed a job.

My roommate was a dog walker for a company and got me a job as an assistant.  I worked for them for 2 years before I went out on my own.

What was funny for me, was that when I was a kid, pet care was my first job.

I grew up in the suburbs and when my peers started babysitting, I would feed my neighbors cats, take in the mail and general house sitting stuff.

As an adult, whatever jobs I had often involved pet sitting (on the side) for co-workers.

I didn’t put it all together, or see where I was headed until I started dog walking.

I think I could do this for a while, but I don’t really know.

All of the dogs that I’ve taken care of give me a way to be a better person.

Everything with a dog is immediate, so in the moment.  For example, with Gremmy, the Italian Greyhound, she’s so delicate, fragile and tiny, so when I am with her, I have to watch people and dogs in a different way.  I have to literally protect her from the cold (which for her, is September through June), feet (people stepping on her), and people trying to pick her up.  Those are the main things in protecting her.  Taking care of her reminds me to be patient and also assertive.  I have to tell people no, don’t pick her up.  I also have to be careful of her space, so I don’t accidentally step of her or make her nervous.”

Mark, the musician and walker

“When I moved here from Texas, I was waiting tables and auditioning for bands and looking for something more conducive to playing music.

I am a drummer.

I found Hoochie Poochie on Craigslist, quit the serving job I had and started doing this full time.

The dogs are awesome.

I have been doing this for five years.  The time has gone by quickly.

There are no negatives about this job, except for the weather.  Anything other than sunny and 70 is a drag.

This is an awesome way to meet women.

Cute dogs attract cute chicks.

I was training a female walker and we started hanging out at the dog park together.  We bonded over the dogs.  We started organizing after work bar meet-ups.   She had a boyfriend at the time so we would hang out with a group of friends to keep things light and safe.  We ended up at the same bar one night alone and mistakes were made.  It was uncomfortably sticky for a few months until she broke up with him.  We dated for a year off and on, seeing each other at the dog run regularly.  She didn’t want to be in a committed relationship.  She was younger and still exploring what she wanted.

I started seeing another woman who was also a dog walker for the same company.  She was a dancer.  We met at a holiday party.  I started to realize our thinking was more in line with each other.  We wanted the same things, pursuing our art. Music and dance is what brought us both to the city.

Dog walking allows us the flexibility, finances and freedom to go after our passions.

Without the dog walking I would just be another jaded New Yorker.”

 

Ajax, the tripod

“My husband and I worked long hours. We didn’t think we had the time for a dog until we saw all the people coming and going in our apartment building with dogs.  We learned about dog walkers, doggie day care and the NYC dog world.

We knew we wanted a labrador retriever. We didn’t know about lab rescue, but we knew we didn’t want to go to a breeder.

My husband had been going to a restaurant on the upper west side, called Fred’s.  It was named after a lab that was released from the Guiding Eyes of Yorktown Heights.

We began asking people whose labs we liked where they got their dogs.  Several of them mentioned that they had adopted from Guiding Eyes– including our favorite pair from the neighborhood, Hoop and Hula.  Their names were cheerful and the dogs were smart and had big personalities.

We investigated and put our names on a waiting list for a released puppy.

When we were called after six months we had to say no to their first offer. We were both out of town on business and only had four days to accept.

About four months later, they emailed a photo of a brindle lab in a basket with a sunflower and his little paws hanging over the side.  I had a brindle mutt growing up, so as soon as I saw his coloring I knew he was mine.

The first moment that was other than pure joy was when we found out he had cancer.

My mother and my husband’s father both died from cancer, so fear was our immediate emotion.

The cancer was localized in his right hind leg near his knee. It was a tumor in the carriage. we had many choices, including radiation, but a specialist told us that amputation was the gold standard and would be curative.

After surgery he walked out of the animal hospital and hopped himself into a yellow cab.

They took his stitches out after two weeks. We went to a friends house   thinking he could relax in their years and recover.  The moment we turned our heads, he ran through a sprinkler and jumped in the swimming pool.

That was five and a half years ago.  He’s now on wheels, but still getting around.”

Bob, the walker

FullSizeRenderGeorgia practically lives with me, but she’s not mine.  She loves me and I love her.

The Dr. told me I have to walk, and I walk with her.

I wasn’t able to walk at all, I was in the hospital for three weeks from my sciatica, but, I got up to walk her.

I meet people all the time with her.  If I have a dog with me, they say hello, without Georgia, no-one says, hello.

She is stubborn and delicate at the same time.

If she poops in the house, she rolls her eyes, and says, that wasn’t me.

Summer is sun and winter is snow.  She loves them both.

She knows, she has to be good for her treats.

She doesn’t like chicken, but she loves lamb.