June 6, 2017
Some of the best things about dog walking are spoiling other people’s dogs, working outside, getting regular exercise, and having a flexible schedule. Over the past 4+ years I have walked over forty-one dogs, cared for fifteen cats, and looked after one hedgehog.
I have the pleasure of working in Alexandria, Virginia where I get to walk in historic, tree-lined neighborhoods dotted with parks, dog-friendly businesses, and waterfront trails.
Welcome to my typical day.
Feed and water my own furry, feline companions. Mrs Norris and Nano start my day with a yowl. Their daily battle for dominance usually starts on my bed at around this time of the morning. Nano is the instigator while Mrs Norris loudly voices her opposition. Gray fur flies and paws thunder through the house.
My work day usually starts around 11AM, so the mornings are my time. Sometimes I cart kids around, some days I work out, attend an exercise class or go ice-skating, other days I get some work done around the house or run errands. Before I leave, I always check the weather, verify that I have my phone, get my hat, and apply my sunblock – so much sunblock.
Today I’m starting a little early. Tosha the friendly, orange cat is on my schedule this week and he needs his belly rubs. After some food, a change of water, and a clean litter-box it’s time to play. Tosha likes to hunt his bird toy from the comfort of his furry rug.
Off to walk the always joyful Leo. I started walking this brown dog of happiness four years ago when he was about 10 months old. Leo lives in the historic district of Old Town Alexandria, so our walks take us on a historical walking tour of Old Town which include City Hall and Market Square, Carlyle House (any Mercy Street fans?), and Gadsby’s Tavern. We also have to stop by the brick house on the corner and look for the cat that we saw there once, four years ago. There was no cat today.
Headed north to walk Scout the Yorkie. We go to a park on the Potomac River to sniff trees. His legs move so fast that he’s like walking a giant, furry centipede.
Cooper the black lab mix lives in the same building as Scout. A quick trip downstairs finds Cooper ready to go to the dog park. I bring my chuck-it and Cooper sniffs at least 12 balls before he finds the dirtiest, smelliest ball in the park.
A short ride to the Del Ray neighborhood brings me to Chester, the shepherd mix. Chester likes playing with other dogs at the park, belly rubs, and trying to eat things he finds on the side of the road. Remember Mr. Creosote from Monty Python? Chester also eats everything and I keep a running list of things I have pulled out of his mouth: multiple banana peels, a half-eaten fajita of unknown age and origin, dirty tissues, chicken bones, and one brillo pad. Today he came up short.
Dexter the beagle lives just across the street. He is an 11-year old charmer who has trained me to give him a treat when he prances. Today he showed off this skill to another dog walker who was duly impressed.
A short drive brings me to my second Cooper of the day. Cooper the Brittany spaniel is a ball dog. We walk to the local park where he chases balls and occasionally lies in the shade to rest. He has a great smile.
I double check my schedule to make sure i haven’t forgotten anyone and mark my visits as complete. The rest of the day is mine.
I love walking dogs and caring for animals. Being outside every day has improved my health and cleared my mind. I have maintained a fifty-pound weight loss by walking 10,000 – 15,000 steps every day with these dogs. The people I meet and connections I make on my routes have made me feel like a bigger part of my community – sometimes I feel like I know everyone with a dog in Alexandria. Working with pets is like being a favorite Aunt. I get to enjoy all the positive aspects of pet ownership with my clients’ animals. It’s really hard to have a bad when these furry faces are so happy to see you.
About the Author: Julie works for Fetch! Pet Care of Alexandria and lives in Old Town with her husband, Davis and their 15 year-old daughter, Lydia. They have two naughty, gray cats. She volunteers as an English teacher for Bienvenidos and assists with behavior and training at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. She likes stand-up comedy, modern and contemporary art, and is a huge fan of the Washington Capitals.
Want to become a Fetch! Pet Care dog walker & pet sitter? Click here to apply online.