Three years ago today was my first day of ballwalkpark! I want to give a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has believed in, supported, and shared your pups with ballwalkpark. I love this business, I have the most amazing employee, Nancy, the most amazing clients and of course, the most amazing dogs. I can't believe how fortunate I am to have all of these people and dogs in my life. Thank you to all of you who have grown with me over the years and patiently taught me how to run this business better. I have learned so much from my clients and their dogs, and am lucky enough to call many of them great friends and some have even become family.
Several times a week, I can't believe that this is really my job. I used to be the person that would beg to come over and meet a friend's new puppy, now people I don't even know call me and pay me to come play with their dogs!
Even after the worst days, I can't help but laugh. When I tell my fiance about my day and tell him I got pushed down in a mud puddle, tripped, bit and had to clean up puke out of the front seat and diarrhea out of the back of the truck, I can't help but laugh. After a hot shower and a good dinner, I have totally forgotten about the day and am ready to see the pups again in the morning. It feels so good to wake up and want to go to work every day!
The absolute best thing that I have experienced in this business is gaining the trust of my clients. There is no greater compliment than when I ask my clients if I can take their dog somewhere or do something and the response is "whatever you want, I trust you". Even more than that, being trusted to take a pup to the dog park. I know that Nancy and I love these dogs and truly do treat them the same (if not sometimes better!) than our own dogs, but for our clients to know and believe that means so much to us. Watching these pups grow up, learn new tricks, and develop a bond with the pack is such a rewarding way to spend the day.
When I started dog walking three years ago, there were about 20% of the dog walking businesses that there are now. Back then, dog walkers had a reputation of being weird, fanny pack wearing, socially awkward with a manly voice (which was never really true to begin with, but the stereotype was definitely there). I have consciously reminded myself to brush my hair, occasionally lint roll the dog hair, put on clean clothes even if they are going to get immediately dirty again. In many ways I have resisted letting myself be the stereotypical dog walker (and will continue to!) but I admit that I have really adopted certain parts of the dog walker lifestyle. Here is what 3 years of ballwalkpark has done to me:
- I always speak for myself and the dogs, even when I am alone, (i.e. can you hold the door for us?). People must think I have an imaginary friend.
- Every coat pocket has treats and poop bags, if the pocket hasn't been chewed out yet
- I can pick up a poop, kick a ball, and tell a dog to stop humping, simultaneously, all while on auto-pilot
- I know every single back street route between Queen Anne and Magnuson park
- I make the weird dog walker sounds at the park. I don't know why or how this happened, but it has. Anything to get those dogs to follow me!
- I am able to identify each of my dogs by their bark and their poop
- My natural reaction upon walking in a dog owner's house is to drop on the floor and play with the dog
- I should own stock in Lululemon and laundry detergent
- I have over 30,000 dog pictures. My computer has crashed numerous times. My external hardrives are full.
Three years feels good. I feel confident while still challenged. I am so grateful for all of you who have helped me get to this point, your support has meant the world to me. I don't know exactly what the next three years will look like, but I have some ideas I am pretty excited about. Stay tuned!