Professional Dog Walkers – Yes or No?
Today I want to talk to you in general about the importance of having a professional dog walker, and specifically recommend the company we use in Chicago called Cruisin’ Canines.
If you have a job that requires you to be gone for most or all of the day during the week, as many of us do, have you considered hiring a dog walker to take care of your pooch while you’re away? If you live in a neighborhood where you have the option to hire a professional dog walker, I highly recommend you look into it.
As readers of this blog know, we’ve had a total of three Samoyeds dating back to 1996. First we had Zoya, then Ramius, and now of course Sacha. For our first couple of years with Zoya, we actually didn’t use a dog walker. And both my wife and I were gone all day every day during the week. Fortunately, we realized that situation wasn’t the best thing for Zoya, so we began investigating different dog walkers in our area. That’s when we found a company called Cruisin’ Canines that is run by the husband and wife team of Pam and Paul.
Pam came over to our house one evening so we could meet her and she could meet Zoya. We felt right at ease with Pam and decided to hire Cruisin’ Canines to be Zoya’s dog walker. This was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. All dogs needs exercise of course and I think that’s particularly true of big dogs like Samoyeds. Also, Samoyeds tend to be very active and curious, and you just don’t want to leave them alone from 9 – 5 all day during the week if you can afford another option.
When we met with Pam we knew we’d be in great hands. She and her husband had a lot of experience as dog walkers, but their business was relatively new at that point. We saw an opportunity to grow with them as they would take care of Zoya, and any future Samoyeds we might have.
Why Do I Need a Dog Walker? – My Dog Can Hold It While I’m Gone!
This refrain is something we hear when we talk with people who don’t understand the value of having a dog walker. They may reason that their dog goes all night without having to go out, and that’s often 8 or 9 hours or more! Why can’t they go for 8 or 9 hours during the day without going outside as well?
I get the logic, I do. But there are a few key differences. One, dogs don’t typically have the same need to go to the bathroom overnight, just like many humans. Unless of course, you’re over 40 like I am, then you do have to take plenty of trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night :-).
Secondly, while it doesn’t happen often, sometimes dogs DO in fact have to go out during the night. Dogs are prone to diarrhea and other things that sometimes require the dreaded 3am trip outside to the back. It happens. We’ve been there with all three of our Samoyeds at one point or another. Each of them has their moment standing next to the bed barking for us to let them out at 2:30 in the morning on a frigid Tuesday night in January.
Samoyeds are very clean animals, and they like to keep things tidy. Our experience is that once trained (we’ll talk about that process another time), they almost never have accidents in the house. But, we all know what it feels like when we have to go to the bathroom and we don’t have easy access to one. It’s not a pleasant feeling right? Well Samoyeds and all dogs go through the same sort of thing. It’s not pleasant for them to have to hold it when they really need to go.
And this situation is even more pronounced during the day. Think about it, once you’re awake you feed the dog, and hopefully you’re leaving plenty of fresh water around. They eat, they drink, at some point they realize they need to go potty and…you’re not there! You’re at work. And of course, your pooch can never be exactly sure what time you’ll be back. Poor thing!
And if you’re not around and they really have to go, you’re giving your fur babies a choice of two bad options. Either they hold it in discomfort until you get home, or they just can’t take it anymore and relieve themselves in the house. Trust me, if that happens, nobody feels worse than your Samoyed will. They don’t want to soil their living quarters, they like to keep it clean. And they probably remember during potty training being corrected by you for having accidents in the house. They’ll remember that and may think you’ll be upset with them when you get home, which can very stressful for your pooch.
Physical Exercise is Important
Okay, I think we’ve thoroughly covered the potty issue, let’s talk about exercise. Ideally you want to give your Samoyed regular walks every day. At least once, but hopefully two or three times per day if you can. It’s good for them, and frankly, it’s good for you too.
And even though you may have the best intentions to get up early and walk your dog before going to work, or doing so as soon as you get back home in the evening, it just doesn’t always happen. Life gets in the way. Maybe you have to pick up the kids after school and/or work later than you thought. Or maybe you’re just simply exhausted after a long day on the job. Or maybe you’ve got a 7am conference call that you forgot about. All of these things and a lot more can happen, and it’s completely understandable. It’s nothing to feel bad about.
But the bottom line is, when life gets in the way sometimes, your dog may not always get the walks that he needs.
Hiring a professional dog walker solves both problems. They’ll come in the middle of the day, which probably lines up nicely for when your dog needs to go potty, and give him the exercise he needs. I know Sacha goes potty like clockwork every single day on his walk. The notes we get from the walker when we get home typically say things like, “Great walk with Sacha today! He went 1 + 2.”
When it comes to going “1 + 2” Sacha is a world champion! 🙂
How to Evaluate a Dog Walker
Okay now that I’ve hopefully convinced you of the importance of hiring a professional dog walker, the next step is to interview the candidates. Here’s a list of things you’ll want to ask your prospective dog walker during the interview process:
- How long have you been in the dog walking business?
- Will we have the same dedicated walker every day, or do they rotate?
- Are you bonded and insured?
- What is your cancellation policy?
- Do you walk on holidays and weekends if necessary?
- What do you charge?
- How do you communicate with us how the walk went?
- Will my dog be walked alone or with other dogs?
- If there’s an emergency, will someone call us?
- How many dog walkers do you have on staff? How do you train them? What is your turnover rate?
That should more than get you started. Overall, it’s about comfort. For us, our Samoyeds are our kids, so hiring a dog walker is like hiring a good babysitter or evaluating a good day care facility. If after speaking with them you feel like they’ll treat your dog like one of their own, you’ve probably made the right choice. That’s how we felt with Cruisin’ Canines.
Dog Walkers Are Like Family
And that’s certainly the feeling we had with Cruisn’ Canines when we first met with them and it continues to this day. We can’t say enough about them. As we’ve added Samoyeds throughout the years, and lost them too, Cruisin’ Canines has been right with us all the way. If they’re walking two of our dogs at once, or just one like they are these days, we know our fur babies are always in great hands.
And they’ve got a terrific staff that goes above and beyond the call of duty. Tricia is our main contact person and she is so responsible and nice. We know she’ll do anything she can for us. One time when we had a dog sitter watching Sacha while both my wife and I were away on business. Our sitter accidentally locked herself out of the house, and couldn’t get back in. My wife and I were in different states at the time, and too far away to do anything about it. Uh oh! But, we called Tricia, and she came over that afternoon, let our dog sitter in, said hello to Sacha, and made sure everyone was settled in for the night.
That’s family that does that for you.
We’ve had so many wonderful regular walkers and substitutes that Cruisin’ Canines has provided to us over the years that it’s impossible to thank all of them. But I do want to give a special shout out to Tom. Tom walked Ramius and Sacha for many years. And he certainly was someone who went above and beyond the call of duty. As Ramius got sicker and sicker it became harder for him to walk. No problem for Tom, he did what was necessary to get Ramius outside and back in. Tom moved away late last year so he wasn’t with us when Ramius passed away. But I know he was just about as heartbroken as we were. And are.
These days, Sacha has a relatively new dog walker named Jack and he seems to be doing great. Sacha really seems to like him.
Contact Cruisin’ Canines
We highly recommend Cruisin’ Canines and if you’re in Chicago, you can’t make a better choice. Give them a call at 773.327.4419 or visit them online at www.cruisincanines.com.
Be sure to tell them that The Smiling Samoyed sent you!
If you have any questions about dog walkers in general, or Cruisin’ Canines in particular, please leave me a comment! I’ll be sure to get back to you.
Thank you for reading!