Saturday, 29 November 2008

First Aider

I have now been on my First Aid for Dogs course and graduated with the rest of the class.

We learnt how to deal with wounds, burns, bleeding and shock, poisoning, drowning and CPR among other things. I had a go at CPR on their dummy, and bandaged an ear, paw and tail on a stuffed Golden Retriever. Of course, these pretend animals don't wriggle about, so we were shown some ways to restrain dogs nicely, but firmly.

I've now got a certificate to go in my information pack, a full first aid kit for the van (which is now bigger than my 'human' first aid kit) and a smaller, basics only kit to carry on walks.

This is one part of my business I hope I never need, but it's good to feel prepared.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

The Interweb

I really need some presence on the web, so I've got a friend creating a website for me, which is very good of him. I just need to find some time to write the content for it! I've got most of it through the adverts I've written, so it shouldn't take long.

Also I've got ads on Vivastreet, Gumtree and Preloved and slowly enquiries are coming in. It gives me some time to check out the competition as well - on one site most of the other dog walkers are over 20 years younger than me. I have put my age on my ads, as I hope my experience and professionalism will count for something - as all these teenagers are very cheap.

You get what you pay for!

Wednesday, 26 November 2008


Yes, it's great. It may have found me a new customer.

While in a muddy field with one of my pups, a little Cav pup came over to say hello. My pup, being a Weimy was very bouncy and the Cav jumped up at me a few times (probably thinking 'save me! save me!) and left me covered in mud. Her owner rushed over to apologise and we got chatting for a couple of minutes.

I left her my business card and she may call - her current dog walker won't let her pup off the lead, and seeing me with my charge off lead made her think she might like to change walkers.

I've added a couple of ads to Vivastreet and Gumtree, and I think it was this week that my ad was supposed to be in a local free paper. Which I haven't had, so I must chase that up.

I also realised I threw away a note from a customer thanking me for clearing up her dog's diarrhea (obviously I scoffed the choccies). I think I should have kept that as a testimonial for my info pack. I will be spending the morning going through the recycling bag!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Legs Aching!

I don't think I've felt so tired for a long time.

It's been four days of walking my two, then two Great Danes (one at a time) who are very good but there is always a slight strain on my arms, and the very bouncy and constantly trying to eat everything she shouldn't including fag butts, stones and twigs Weimeramer puppy. She is very good on the lead, can do close heelwork but usually we just wander with her on a loose lead - and of course I'm forever picking things out of her mouth. I've given her a toy to carry on a couple of occasions and that works really well with plenty of encouragement.

Anyway - that works out to approximately four hours walking, plus another, say, 30 mins in and out of houses, feeding etc, then another 30 mins of driving - which is a nice sit down, but with all the roadworks in my town at the moment can feel like I've walked every inch.

I knew I would be tired, so I've been trying to get early nights but oh my poor legs! Hopefully my fitness will catch up before I pick up another daily customer. I have some 'on and off' weekend customers, just looking after the dog when the owners go out for the day so I hope to manage as I am for a while.

Fridays I get a day off from the Weimy, so I'll take mine for Fred's once a week offlead walk in the park, then the dogs can chill in the car for an hour while I walk the Danes.

I am enjoying it very much though - even clearing up poo doesn't seem so bad when there's a dog giving me kisses for doing it.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Car Crates

Finally I've got a new large crate for the van. I've removed Beauty's XX large crate so that I can get Fred's in, and I think if I jiggled them around a bit more I'd get Fred's smaller crate in as well, so three dogs can travel in safety. Most doggy travel won't be huge distances, but I will have to try to take on customers in batches of three - one small, one medium, one large.

I have begun yearning for a tardis. I'd like a bigger van inside, so I can have some proper crates built in, with enough space that Fred and Beauty's can be solely for them, with no paying passengers 'borrowing' their spaces. Be nice to have a hand washing area, and a couple of seats up front. But I don't want to lose that 'park anywhere, go anywhere' feeling I get with my current van. Luckily I don't have a few grand hanging around burning a hole in my pocket, so will have some time to think about it!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Another Customer

I am going out to meet another dog today - a little puppy, 13 weeks old, just needs a babysitter for a day at the weekend. The owner is really anxious about leaving the little thing, but has a sick relative she wants to visit. It means she won't be a regular customer, but if I do well there may be other babysitting days in the future.

Obviously I am sorry about her relative, but this it is pleasing to see that the target markets I identified on my business plan are slowly coming in. I was right that they would be mostly female, haven't had a bloke ring up yet!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Good News for Me

My terms and conditions have been okayed by my solicitor, so I can now ask customers to sign a registration form saying they agree to them.

I've also got two new dogs - Great Danes! Another dog walker has apparently given up so I have inherited one of her customers. I have traced her via the interweb and am trying to contact her to see whether she will leave my number with any of her other customers if she has them. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

My current pup is now able to go out for walks, so we've been doing 20 minutes round the block.

My new dogs start next week.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

The Phone is Busy

Yesterday I had three calls for work! I am still a little bit surprised that people are phoning, despite all I've been doing to encourage dog-owners to contact me! I assume I will eventually get used to this.

Mostly it seems to be people getting puppies soon and wanting to set up a dog walker in preparation. I thought I'd get older dogs, but I suppose that people with older dogs already have a routine and don't need new people.

For someone who always said puppies are not her thing I am getting a little bit persuaded that perhaps they are more interesting than I expected. Such a blank canvas to paint on. Scary in a way.

My current pup is now fully vaccinated, although it will be another week or two until she can go out, so I am working on getting her to sit still nicely for her lead to be put on, as well as trying to teach her to walk nicely when she is on it. I am also feeding her half her dinner in my van, so by the time she is old enough to go out to the park she won't think twice about travelling. The other half of her dinner is used for training (sit is fantastic, recall 100% around the house and garden, down, not so good but working on it) with a little scattered on the patio to really get her sniffing. She has some treats as well, which she gets as a bonus for doing fabulous work. I think she prefers her dinner though, as when she's done well I drop it on the floor, where it clatters. I think I have clatter trained her, and the treats don't clatter!