For many busy dog owners, it can be a hassle or just impossible to get home in time to give their dogs enough love. This is where Blue Dog steps in. The San Francisco-based company connects dog owners with professional walkers so that everybody wins.
We caught up with Claudia Mendoza, a recent grad who found a job with Blue Dog on Localwise, to get the inside scoop on the secret life of dog walkers. Could it truly be a walk in the park? While Claudia was originally hired as a walker, she moved up into a manager position within a couple months, so it seemed like she was just the right person to talk to.
Perks of being a dog walker
According to Claudia, the main perk of her current job is the ability to be on the move during the day and spend time outside. “By being a dog walker manager, you get the manager income without being boxed into the third story of a mall. I wanted to manage, not be stuck inside. My soul is so much happier.” She had previous experience managing, which was why she shot to the top so quickly, but with Blue Dog, Claudia still gets to be out and about with the rest of the walkers.
For those fairly unfamiliar with the dog walker lifestyle, you’re not alone. When Claudia first started, she admits that aside from walking dogs, she didn’t know what else it would involve.
Since it's all on foot, from pick-up to drop-off (city folk: that means no car necessary!), Blue Dog keeps their dog walking packs to three dogs or less, but she admits that it was originally a challenge to take three dogs out at once. Now that she’s a seasoned pro, however, she makes it sound like a breeze. “You get in a groove, it’s easy and it’s fun.”
Building solid relationships
It was also a pleasant surprise for Claudia to develop solid relationships with her pack and their owners. “With Blue Dog you have the same dogs every day, every week, so you really get to know your pack and your clients. It makes more of a personal relationship.” She mentions that some walkers are so invested in their pack that they don’t mind going out of their way to take care of extras, like feeding or medicating the dogs.
Plus, walking around the same neighborhoods has made her familiar with them in a new way. “There are a lot of little cafes and shops and restaurants that you discover while you’re walking,” she says. “OH,” she adds, “and weekends off! Because we walk mainly for people who are in offices during the week.”
The dog walker lifestyle does include an enviable schedule. Walkers start at 10 am, they finish at 3:30 pm and they’re paid hourly. The company provides their dog walkers with an app that times the walk and allows clients to see where the dogs were picked up, dropped off and how long they were out. It also manages the logistics.
“It reminds you when to come back especially when you’re overlaying dogs. It also schedules your walks – when to pick up one dog and then another,” Claudia explains.
Blue Dog tries to keep walkers in a reasonably small area, so it’s convenient to get to all of the pack, which is important because — let’s not forget — a walk with three dogs may be fun, but it still requires a lot of energy.
The perfect part-time job
“Initially when I started, I wanted eight hours of walking, but I’ve learned that after five, you’re done,” says Claudia. “It’s just enough so you’re not super exhausted, but if you wanted to you could take a nap.”
So who are these wise people earning cash by hanging out with dogs every day? Claudia says that most walkers are students or anyone with existing evening or weekend work looking to have a fun job in the outdoors during the day.
The job doesn’t start too early and ends in the afternoon, which leaves time for walkers to have a life, get to class, maintain their busy schedules, and still make some money.
Or, in the case of Claudia, it’s the exact kind of strange, off-the-radar job that suits her: “My family—they come home, they cook dinner, they watch TV, take care of the kids. That’s boring for me. Obviously, I have loans, but I want to get out. Everyone thinks I’m a weirdo and I am one, but at least I’m a happy weirdo.”
That’s the attitude that makes Claudia a first-rate dog walker manager. So weirdos seeking happiness, take note: dog walking could be the answer.