Sunday, 11 December 2011

One Man and His Dog

Vivien and I have been doing weekly walks for a little while now, some with Pauline, others on our own. 

A couple of weeks ago, Pauline proposed that we join her friend David on Whitley Bay beach, where he would be working, walking dogs.  Vivien and I both have soft spots for dogs, but neither of us owns one for the time being, so I thought we'd both enjoy this.  It was a lovely day and our experience with dog walking was an eye opener, to say the least.


We met at the appointed place after David unloaded his 'clients'.  He had five that day, most of them medium to large sized.  I can introduce you to Fred (a Labradoodle?) and Hector (a chocolate Labrador) and Tiger (a striped lurcher, possibly of whippet ancestry). 

Tiger and a Golden Retriever

I didn't catch the names of the Golden Retriever (which ate everything in sight - seaweed, shale, you name it), or the golden-brown female (I'm not a fan of the word 'bitch') he kept on the harness because she was a 'dominant' type and picked a few small fights (maybe bitch is right after all).

I wouldn't have thought seawater would be palatable, but what do I know?

The first order of business once we got down on the beach was that all five dogs had a poo, which of course had to be picked up in plastic bags (better him than me).  David let all but the harnessed bitch off their leads and they ran around everywhere, having a gay old time (I grew up watching the Flintstones, so that is an entirely innocent phrase).

That's Hector on the right.

Of course, there were loads of other people around walking their dogs and so one had to keep track of where the dogs were, what they were doing, how they were getting along, what other dogs had decided to abandon their owners and join our circus, not to mention keeping the five generally rounded up and travelling as a group the length of the beach and back.

David has a really nice office, at least when the weather is good.

David threw two different balls for them to fetch / try to bury in the sand and of course the Golden Retriever had to go for a swim in the North Sea.  We kept an eye on him to see when he might decide to shake, but if he ever did it thankfully wasn't near us.  I gather that David walked much slower on this particular day given the number of us ladies he had accompanying him, almost as many as the dogs he brought.  Not that it mattered, the dogs were out for their hour long walk and they certainly covered the territory. 

Awaiting the ball to chase.

We peppered David with questions about how he got started, why he decided to do it, how it was going.  David said he'd had a job he wasn't fond of, a dog who had to stay at his Mom's house whilst he worked said job, a background in farming and farm animals and a little savings on which to get started.  He said his books are currently full with 75 clients, about half of whom are regulars.  He's been in business about two years now.  I think I understood him to say he did three walks a day; I know he mentioned being a marathon runner as well, so one could understand the fitness he brought to (or got from) his job.  He apologised saying he was happy to talk to us but please not to think him rude if he didn't look at us while speaking; he needed to keep an eye on his dogs.  I'd not realised until then that I wasn't looking at him either, we were all keeping an eye on those dogs!

I watched him handle a 'misunderstanding' between two of the dogs.  In a split second he had the miscreant on her back in a submissive position and was nose to nose with her explaining her misdemeanour in strong and certain terms.  Things went pretty smoothly bar that one incidence.   I was impressed how confident he was with all the dogs and how well they generally seemed to mind him.  I would trust my dog with him, no problem.

The other thing that completely amazed me, though, was that he had keys to all the houses of his regularly walked dogs.  Vivien and I were adding up the purchase price of a designer dog, cost of enough food to feed a large animal and regular hairdressing appointments, not to mention £9.50 an hour for it to be walked.  We decided he probably had keys to some pretty nice places.  I was impressed that he engendered that level of trust in owners, too, though it is common practise here in Britain to do things like that. 

One Man and His Dog

I'm a Nervous Nelly when it comes to handing over my worldly goods, but if I were going to do that I think my dog/house would probably be in good hands with David.  He comes across as a very nice, sensible kind of guy.  Besides, the dogs like him and my Mom always said that was the best test of character there was.


Carolyn said...

What an amazing and interesting job!

Rick Stone said...

Your Mom was correct. Dogs are usually pretty good judges of character. Of course, my dogs seem to like pretty much anybody who comes to our house.

Suburban Princess said...

I love this post! I trust my dog's opinion too - there was only ever one person he didn't take to...and that guy turned out to be such a jerk! I was ready for it when my dog wouldn't go near him.

I used to bump into a dog walker in the woods where I used to take my dog...really nice guy, always had five or six dogs tethered to him while he jogged. How could one have a bad day like that!

Lacey R said...

I think it is fascinating how dogs can sniff out a bad character.

I have given you a blog award!

Dog Walking said...

Hey Dog Walking is really a good job unless you love to do it, i really love to take dogs for walk. it is so fun to play with dogs.

Emily said...

Just found your blog, and I'm really enjoying it! I'm an American living in Cullercoats. I've been here a couple of years, but your blog is still full of some really interesting information about the area I hadn't seen. Thanks!

Shelley said...

Hello, Emily!! I'm late in replying - you don't have a blog or an email address I can find. I'd be happy to meet up for a coffee - Cullercoats or Tynemouth would suit me fine - if you would like. Have a great Christmas!