Susie’s Dog Walking and Pet Care and Pet Sitting is a relatively new, but well thought-out, venture. The idea for the business hatched while I was hiking with my best friend in the winter of 2012. She had her dog and I had my two, plus two other dogs belonging to friends. I like to hike with dogs!
She and I were again talking about job ideas for me. I had retired from the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region in June of 2011 after 11 years as Director of Volunteer Programs. The initial freedom was wonderful, but after about a year, I started growing restless. I wanted to do something, but I wanted a job that was fun and one that utilized my skills and interests.
My friend said, “Susie, you love hiking and walking, you love dogs. And you love hiking and walking with dogs. Why don’t you become a professional dog walker?”
Hummm…. WHAT A GREAT IDEA! As a successful professional woman and a conscientious dog owner, she knew first-hand how difficult it could be to give her dog an adequate amount of exercise every day. She knew that other professional people were in the same predicament. (And, as I learned while researching the dog walking business, there are many other groups of people who could utilize a dog walker.)
I certainly have the qualifications. My grandmother gave me my first dog when I was 8. With the exception of three and a half of my four years of college, and a two-year stint in an apartment in D.C. with my husband during the Vietnam War, I’ve never been without a dog, usually two.
How To Safely Walk Unknown Dogs
My job as Director of Volunteer Programs at the Humane Society involved creating programs that taught volunteers how to safely walk unknown dogs. They learned how to interpret different canine body postures – their body language. How dogs hold their tails, the position of their ears, their eyes, mouths, body stance and vocal noises all are their way of communicating their moods.
For those volunteers whose job it was to help people select for adoption the appropriate dog for their lifestyle, their training program included a part that discussed the different characteristics of many of the more common breeds of dogs – the difference between huskies, labs, collies, beagles, heelers, border collies, terriers, German shepherds, etc.
I also worked for four years as a veterinary assistant in a one-vet office. Among many duties, I restrained rambunctious pets, helped in surgeries, administered pills to dogs and cats, dispensed medications, read fecal samples for parasites, and did all of the administrative duties. I also learned how to give injections and administer sub-cutaneous fluids. I learned a lot about interpreting dog body language here, too.
As far as my physical qualifications for dog walking, I ran marathons, raced bicycles on a national level, and continue to hike and cycle regularly. And I have already had pertinent overused joints replaced!
Pet Care and Pet Sitting
After being in the dog walking business for a few months, I recognized a need in Colorado Springs for reliable pet care and pet sitting. And not just for dogs, but also cats, guinea pigs, birds, chickens and horses. In the past, I have owned and cared for all of those animals, and then some - a pony and two horses, chickens, ducks, geese, a ferret, hamsters, turtles, parakeets, canaries, fish, a boa constrictor, and chameleons.
Currently, my husband and I have a 12 year-old lab and a lab puppy. We (“You, not we,” my husband would say) also have two cats, an African Grey parrot, a cockatiel, a guinea pig, and a corn snake (As the grandmother of five kids ages 3 to 11, all of whom live in Colorado Springs – call me lucky! – I feel it’s my duty to provide them the opportunity to get to know as many different kinds of animals as possible!).
I love animals. I love walking and hiking. I love caring for animals.
– Susie Barton-Stetson