A dog walker is out in all weathers and sees the cityscape through the kaleidoscope of mother nature’s lens. My friend Teri runs Arthur and Martha’s Dog Service, and regularly posts photos of her day on facebook. Many of the pictures show her four-legged clients having the very best of times. There are also plenty of stunning landscape images charting the changing seasons. She snaps secret green corners, beautiful skies, fabulous street art – all observed during her daily duties as a dog walker. When I see the day from her perspective a bit of me is ever-so-jealous that I’ve spent mine at a 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, 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.
How did you become a dog walker?
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, at Battersea, one morning a week for three years.
When did you decide to make it your job?
I looked forward to my volunteering so much 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 in the past 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 I would feel isolated. With a dog for company I am confident and free to go anywhere I want to.
How did you get started?
I was as a dog walker for several local doggie daycare businesses. My voluntary experience helped a lot on my CV. 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. I took 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.
So you decided to start your own business?
Yes I wanted more of a relationship with the dogs and felt that I could get this with a smaller, regular number of my own clients. 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 all I needed were some dogs.
How did you find clients?
I wanted to find local clients so that I could manage the dogs on my own and 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 it’s easy to strike up conversations in parks, cafes or even passing in the street. I just told everyone I was available if they needed me. Now that I’m 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.
What about the future?
I’ve found my dream job as a dog walker and I will do this forever, or for as long as I can walk. I always have plans for the next thing though. I wanted a van so that I could take the dogs further afield and that has proved invaluable. It’s like my office on wheels. I’ve done first aid training for dogs and I’m training as a dog behaviourist. It’s all about giving the dogs the best experience.
Teri takes Ricci out with her pack for an adventure every Wednesday so I have first-hand experience of how much her four-legged friends love her. If you have a dog in your life you might be interested in my posts about dog friendly Kent and making your own dog treats.
All images ©Teri Tyndale 2015. PIN it: