Working

Canine-to-five; the wonderful life of a dog walker

New River Walk, London through the eyes of a dog walker

A dog walker is out in all weathers and sees the cityscape through the kaleidoscope of  mother nature’s lens. My friend Teri is a dog walker and runs Arthur and Martha’s Dog Service, and regularly posts photos on her facebook page. Many of the pictures show her four-legged clients having the best of times but there are also plenty of stunning landscapes charting the changing seasons. She snaps secret green corners, beautiful skies, fabulous street art – all discovered on her daily wanderings. When I see the day from her perspective a bit of me is ever-so-jealous that I’ve spent far too long at my desk.

Don’t get me wrong – her job is not always about strolling canal side on a sunny day. On wet days, while my dog gets a few round-the-block walks, Teri is out for hours, walk after walk, soaked through and cold. But you don’t hear her complaining about the rain – this job is her passion. It’s everyone’s dream, to change something they love into a business so I asked Teri about her journey.

Q. How did you become a dog walker?
A. I was working as a security guard and got talking to a female dog trainer at an event. I’ve always been interested in dogs and asked her about how you could get started in the business. She suggested I volunteer with a dog charity, which I did, one morning a week for three years.

London dog walking, Arthur and Marthas Dog Service

Q. When did you decide to make it your job?
A. I looked forward to my morning volunteering and realised that it just wasn’t enough. I wanted a dog fix more often. When I was with the dogs it made me feel happier and calmer – I just loved it. I’ve suffered with depression and it can make you withdraw into yourself but dogs help to bring you back into the world. For instance I would previously avoid parks because they were full of people having fun and it would have made me feel isolated – but with a dog it’s not even something you think about.

London treescape, Arthur and Marthas Dog Service

Q. So what was the next step?
A. I looked for jobs with local dog walking businesses and my voluntary experience helped a lot. First I worked for a daycare company, I would drive a van to collect a list of dogs from their homes in the morning, walk and supervise them all day and then drop them home. My next job was as a dog walker for another small business as well as taking dogs home with me overnight when needed. I learned a huge amount from these experiences and how their business practices compared to those of the charity I volunteered for. I didn’t process it at the time but I was gradually working out how I would do it differently.

Q. So you decided to start your own business?
A. Yes I wanted more of a relationship with the dogs and felt that I could get this with a smaller, regular number of clients of my own. The only way to do it was to take the plunge and go it alone. I’d toyed with the idea for a while so when it came to it I already had the name; I sorted out the insurance, printed some business cards and hey presto. Now all I needed was some dogs.

Q. How did you find clients?
A. I wanted to find local clients so that I could manage the dogs on my own and also be able to team up dogs with similar natures etc. I started slowly but I’ve become quite good at handing out my business card to anyone I come across with a nice natured dog. Dog walking is very sociable is so its easy to strike up conversations in parks, cafes or even passing in the street so I just told everyone I was available if they needed me. Now I am established there’s word-of-mouth too and nothing is better than a recommendation. Oh and there’s the facebook page which I like to fill with lots of dog training and behavioural finds.

Q. What about the future?
A. I’ve found my dream job as a dog walker and I will do this forever, or for as long as I can walk.

Misty morning in Victoria Park, Arthur and Marthas Dog Service

Morning sunshine New River Walk, London N1, Arthur and Marthas Dog Service

All images ©Teri Tyndale 2015

2 Comments

    • One place that I know is the New River Walk which is very close by to us in Islington and gorgeous. It runs behind the Marquess Tavern and the bit going north towards Canonbury station is just lovely – the pics with the fountain and the dog on the planked walkway are taken there.

Leave a Comment

/* ]]> */