Mike’s Walkers – Pup of the week, Sep 12

Welcome to the first installment of Mike’s Walkers – Pup of the week! Our first honoree is named Willow. She’s a sweet, beautiful English Springer Spaniel, and we love her to pieces.

This photo was taken by her Chelsea dog walker Justine.

Chelsea Dog Walking Nirvana

IMG_7617Let’s face it…life in NYC can be a challenge.  It’s a busy place, and we’re busy people.  Dialing it down is rarely an option, and most of us go to bed thinking about the things on our list we were unable to get to.  Here’s some good news, however.  YOU HAVE A DOG!!!  I know, I know.  That’s just one more thing added to your already-too-long to-do list, right?  Well, that’s true only if you choose to look at it that way.  Walks with your dog can also be your oasis in the urban desert if you’re willing to follow a few easy suggestions.

  1. Don’t multitask when you walk your dog.  Again, I am aware you have a million errands that are not going to run themselves.  Everyday I see people barely able to hold on to their dog’s leash – let alone to their dry cleaning, bags from the drug store and a latte.  If you do those things before or after the walk instead of during, you will be amazed how relaxing your time with your dog can be.  Your buddy will notice the difference as well.
  2. Leave your phone at home.  This is a tough one, but it really wasn’t that long ago that we weren’t reachable while we were walking our dog.  Trading your dog’s leash for your electronic leash a few times per day will provide you with a much needed break from the rest of the world.  I love my iPhone, don’t get me wrong, but that thing is my phone, email/text/Facebook/etc machine, my camera.  Just knowing it’s in your purse or pocket means you’re still ‘connected’.  Actually leaving it at home for the duration of the walk is like a vacation in this day and age…maybe better since we tend to take our devices to the pool and beach these days!
  3. Take your time.  There’s a certain pace many of us in Chelsea maintain during a normal day.  It’s pretty quick.  It seems like if we walk too slowly, we’ll miss a train or get stuck waiting for a light to change.  Try to let that go while you’re out with your dog.  Find a pace that works for the 2 of you, and don’t worry about whether you’re stuck at a light.  That’s a nice time to work on ‘sit’ or catch up on some head patting you’ve been meaning to get to!  You have nowhere to be except the place where you started.  Take your time.

That’s it.  That’s all it takes to achieve nirvana.  Well…Chelsea dog walking nirvana anyway.  The path is the goal, right?  Hope this helps!!

Mike.

Safety, Chapter 1

IMG_5074So, this evening I’m going to write about a safety concern I have.  It’s something I run across almost every single day that I’m out walking dogs.  It’s dogs tied up outside of stores, restaurants, coffee shops, etc.  It’s never a good idea, but as owners it is our choice to make.  Apparently it is still legal in NYC as long as it is not for an extended period.  However, the picture you see to the left is of three dogs tied up outside Rite Aid at the corner of 20th street and 8th Ave in Chelsea…by their walker.  I saw him tether them and then go in.  Since I had no dogs with me, I went in behind him to see whether he’d even be able to see them from where he was in the store.  Sadly, he went deep into the aisles.  He would have no way of knowing whether they were involved in a scuffle or stolen.  I waited to see how long he would be.  It was well over 10 minutes.  I feel quite confident the owners of these dogs don’t mean to pay this walker to shop while their dogs are completely unattended.  In fact, I have 2 dogs, and I hire someone completely independent from my service to walk them each day.  If I saw my dogs tied up outside a store in this fashion, there is no explanation that would stop me from firing her immediately.  Literally anything could happen.  This is New York City, you know.

IMG_5063Some of you may remember seeing this flier around Chelsea and the surrounding hoods.  I spoke to witnesses, and though the flier says otherwise, the dog was tied up outside while the owner was inside.  That’s how this happens.  It’s a tragedy, and it is very easily avoided.  In fact there is only one thing you have to do…don’t let go of the leash.  That’s it.  I know we are busy people in a busy city.  I know we think we have the best behaved dog in the world.  Unfortunately, when we are not holding the leash, there is nothing we can do to keep our dog safe.  When our back is turned, we cannot prevent a tragedy because we don’t know it’s happening.  I am addressing this to dog owners (like myself).  This should go entirely without saying for professional dog walkers (LIKE MYSELF), but I have seen it so many times.

I’ve seen walkers, as with the previous example, tie dogs up while going in to shop…we should shop on our own time.  I’ve seen walkers who tie dogs up outside buildings while they go in to get another…if the building doesn’t allow non-resident dogs to enter, then we have to make some other arrangement.  I’ve seen walkers tie dogs up while entering a coffee shop to get a coffee…this is obviously not OK.

So, what’s my point?  My point is this:  as owners we have a responsibility to our dogs.  As walkers we have a responsibility to our clients and to their dogs.  We can’t be so naive as to think ‘it won’t happen to me’, and we can’t be so lazy as to think ‘I know it could happen to me, but I’m really pressed for time/I’m really in the mood for a coffee now/I really need to buy some toothpaste now’.  It’s not worth the risk.

Please don’t tie your dogs up outside in NYC.  It just isn’t safe.

Mike.

The Dream Team

ImageI have a group of dogs I walk every week day between 1 and 2pm.  There are 5 of them, all around the same size, and they walk beautifully together.  Honestly, I’m a pretty good dogwalker, but these guys make me look like the best.  Perhaps I am…who’s to say?  This group has been together for years now, and every time I’m out with them I get quite a lot of attention from passersby on the street.  Tourists and locals alike take photographs of us literally every day.  Some people ask whether it’s OK, some just shoot, and many try to be sneaky.  I think I always notice because I really stay aware of my surroundings when I’m walking the pooches.  Anyway, I have always wondered whether the photos come out well.  Are there scrapbooks all over the country, perhaps the world, filled with photos from trips to New York with pictures of me and these same 5 dogs in them?  I tend to think people return home from their trips, look through their photos, choose the best ones of themselves in front of all the iconic awesomeness NYC has to offer, and completely discard the ones of me and my furry friends.  However, I’ve often wished I had a copy of every one of them.  How cool would that be to see so many different perspectives on something considered by many to be a novelty worth photographing and by me to be Wednesday afternoon?  So, today I made a decision.  From now on, every time I see someone shoot me while I’m out with the Dream Team (a name given to this group by my former walker Charlotte) I will give my contact info to the photographer and ask them to send me a copy.  Then I will post it to an album on my FaceBook page dedicated to these photos.  Sure enough, it happened.  I was photographed today at the corner of 23rd street and 10th avenue.  I asked and the photographer delivered.  That’s the photo you see attached above, and I think it’s pretty good!  My thanks to John-Francis Bourke.  Please follow my progress with this little project at http://www.facebook.com/MikesWalkers in the photo album called “Mike and the DREAM TEAM”.  I hope you enjoy it!!

– Mike.