We interviewed a new dog-walker about their dog-walking story. It features how and why they got involved with dogs in the local community, and advice for anyone looking to walk dogs themselves.
Why do you walk dogs?
Having moved to Bristol away from home for university, I miss my family’s dogs and want to be around dogs again. Dog ownership isn’t permitted in student accommodation and being around mostly other students, I very rarely get to spend time with dogs at all.
How did you find out about dog walking? What organisation did you go through?
I used ‘BorrowMyDoggy’ (https://www.borrowmydoggy.com), which is an online site that connects dog owners with local dog lovers across the UK for walks, dog-sitting and holidaying. I found out about it through word of mouth- a couple of my friends had started walking dogs using the site and recommended it to me. I signed up and found it to be a great way of spending time with dogs when you can’t own one. Registration on the site is easy and there’s such a huge variety of dogs on it- some you can walk and some you can simply volunteer to spend time with so they don’t have to be alone for too long.
Can you tell us something about the dogs you walk – their breed, name, age and why they need walking etc?
I walk a collie-cross called Zeno, who’s four years old and very energetic. She needs walking as her owner’s husband often works away and her owner can’t always fit enough exercise for Zeno in around work.
I also walk a three-year-old yellow lab called Alfie, whose owner is a new mother and so finds it a lot of work looking after a baby and giving Alfie the attention he needs. As a rescue dog who was previously neglected, he gets a bit stressed if he doesn’t feel he’s being walked or taken much notice of, and his owner wanted to ensure she continues to provide him with a supportive and happy home.
What does dog-walking entail - how long and how often do you do it?
I walk Zeno whenever her owner’s husband is away and so Zeno needs more walking- she’ll contact me to ask if I’m free that week. Zeno loves playing ball, so I usually take her to the woods near her house where there are some fields perfect for playing fetch.
I tend to walk Alfie once a week, whenever suits both me and his owner, but I often do so on a Saturday as I have time then to take him on a really long walk. He has other dog-walkers too, and so between us he gets all the exercise he could want! I like to take him to Ashton Court as he’s really well-behaved and so being in so much open space and other wildlife isn’t a worry as he always stays close to me.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering doing this?
Get going and sign up if you want to walk dogs, it’s a fantastic way to do it! I would say, make sure you’re clear and realistic to the owner about how frequently you would be able to walk their dog. Ask to walk dogs whose owners are looking for an amount of time you could reasonably commit to. Remember that you might need to be flexible and fit around the owner and their household.
Finally, can you sum up the whole experience for you and the dog and their owner?
It’s been great for all of us- the owner is happy that their dog is being walked when they’re too busy, I’m delighted that I get to spend time with dogs again, and the dog is having a great time getting all this extra exercise, ball-throwing fun, and attention.
If you have a dog-walking story you'd like to share, please get in touch with us, tell us about it or send us pictures! Getting involved with dogs is a wonderful thing and sharing stories like this are great for anyone out there wanting to walk or spend time with dogs but unable to own one themselves.
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Written by Elena Holmes