By Kat from The Canine Explorers - October 10, 2019
How did I end up there ?
Being the first generation to live in the US, my brothers and I were expected to do well and go to college. I’ve always loved animals, so I wanted to become a veterinarian. As I got older, I started to think it wasn’t for me. I put too much of my heart and soul into everything I do, and I don’t think I would be able to handle the many sick and dying animals a veterinarian would have to deal with. It would be too much heartbreak for me.
It wasn’t until I got laid off from a job. It was a struggle at first, but luckily for me, I had a savings to fall back on. Working the 9-5 jobs ever since I was 16, often times working two jobs at once just to get by. Dog walking was just a side thing I did on the weekends. I loved dogs, so I thought why not make a little spending side money.
Creativity & Work
I’ve always had a creative side to me, too. I loved to draw. I loved photography and video. But it always been just a hobby. After high school, I got swelled up in the grind of work, work to save money, work to make something out of myself. I never ever thought in a million years dog walking would be it for me. I didn’t know I could apply my creative side to dog walking. I love sending the owners photos and videos of their dogs having fun and learning new things. Being creative helped me grow my business. My photos and videos of our process and operation, I think, sells for itself.
I didn’t think it would be my entire life and career, especially growing up from a traditional Asian family. I’m lucky my family was very accepting to my career change, and their support means the world.
Clients started to tell their friends. I’ve been told I’m so good with dogs. It just comes natural to me, I guess. I thought everybody would be, because duh, dogs are great. But the more I started to meet new dogs, taking on new clients, that is 100% not the case. But that’s how I started to grow.
Some dogs need more time to warm up to new people. Some didn’t even like new people. Some are stubborn, some has special needs. The list could go on and on.
This job isn’t for everybody. Although it may seem like I get to play with dogs all day, it is still hard work. I work very hard to learn all I can, still learning along the way. The dogs I walk are well taken care of, and they get more out of my walks as they learn boundaries and obedience all while getting exercise and mental stimulation, than just a walk around the neighborhood.
People ask me all the time, “how do you walk so many dogs at once?” I always tell them, it’s not without hard work and patience. I build an individual relationship with each and every dog. I get them to trust me, and learn what their triggers are and their ons and offs. I learn what techniques work and what doesn’t. What I do is very personalized, and dependent on each dog. I slowly acclimate new dogs, one by one, into the group. Some can take one private session to multiple sessions. The balance of the pack is very important because it helps the dogs stay balanced throughout their life, even outside their pack. They learn to be more confident. They learn more self control and hopefully end up better dogs at home.
There will be times I turn away dogs. Not all dogs are the right dogs, and i be the right person for that dog. I have to watch out for the overall pack. I may not be the right pack, but there is always something out there that can and will work for that dog.
I take much pride in what I do. I absolutely love it and am so glad I can take my dogs with me to work each day. I can take my life partner with me, too! This isn’t just a job to me, it is my entire life, making a living is just a bonus!
What is the maximum number of dogs you've walked at the same time?
"the maximum number of dogs at a given time was probably about 15 dogs"
Is there a perfect number of dogs per person, if so, what is it?
"I think the magic number would be 8, any more than that my attention would be divided among too many, less per dog may mean more troublesome. Of course, the dogs would love one on one, though! Which we occasionally give."
What are the criterias that make you refuse dogs?
"We usually try to give every dog a chance. And because we always have our own personal dogs in the pack, they’re energy is what we rely on. We’ll do a private meeting first with our personal dogs. Lilo is usually pretty good at letting me know who’s right for the pack or not. If they don’t get along with one dog, first we’ll evaluate the reasonings, was it leash tension, territorial, was it because a toy was present, male vs female dogs, unaltered male dogs. We never allow females in heat, for obvious reasons. We’ll try some basic training techniques to mitigate certain problems, but if it becomes too much to manage on a daily walk, then we’ll deem that dog unfit for OUR pack. It won’t mean the dog will be unfit for another pack, we’ll then give that dog’s owners other options, whether it be private training, other pack walkers, private walkers etc. Pack walking isn’t for every dog, and that’s okay!"
What was your most special or best walk ever?
"I would have to say on my birthdays. As I get older, I don’t care for crazy birthday celebrations. A nice time out with friends will suffice. But during the day,’if my birthday falls on a pack day, I wear a birthday hat and walk my furry friends just like any normal day! To me, it’s my birthday, but to the dogs it’s just another day. But I guess because I’m in a better mood, almost always the dogs are on their best behaviors."
And finally, what is the frequency that you go out and walk dogs?
"Our normal walk schedules are usually midday on weekdays. That’s usually when clients are out at work and their dogs need the outings. Occasionally we’ll have weekend boardings and we’ll pack walk on the weekends. We always get the dogs some outdoor exercise one way or another. We’ll even have weekend camping trips that any of our clients are invited to join in!"