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How many dogs can a dog walker walk?

dogwalker

How many dogs should a dog walker walk at once?

After half a century as an amateur dog walker, and three months as a professional one, I’m prepared to give a qualified answer to that question.

It depends on the dogs. It depends on the dog walker. But three at a time should be plenty.

Many a dog walker might scoff at that — and view the idea of limiting the number of dogs a person can walk at one time as cutting into their profit margin.

It would be nice if dog walking was the one industry in the world not obsessed with upping its profits. But it’s not.

Many dog walkers balked when San Francisco — one of very few cities that regulates professional dog walkers — suggested limiting them to walking no more than eight dogs at once.

I can’t imagine doing that.

I can’t even imagine walking all three of the small dogs I walk for residents of at an assisted living facility all at once.

bgdogs 042Their leashes would get tangled, I’d trip and fall, and, given a couple of them tend to snarf up anything that resembles food — including Punkin, the handsome Boston Terrier to your left – I wouldn’t be able to monitor all three at once.

So — even though it takes three times as long — I opt for walking them one at a time. Bean counters and efficiency experts would say that’s stupid of me.

But then again, I’m 60, and not as agile and speedy, maybe, as once I was.

Here’s a news item that came out of Mill Valley, just up the road from San Francisco, this week:

A 71-year-old dog walker who fell more than 200 feet down a ravine in California was found by rescuers — with all six dogs she was walking huddled around her.

Carol Anderson fell into the ravine near a remote fire road during a storm Tuesday in Mill Valley, KTVU reported.

It’s not clear from news reports whether all six dogs fell with her, but she did manage to hold on to her cell phone during the tumble, and use it to contact one of her dog walking clients.

A Mill Valley Fire Department official said Anderson told the client, “I fell down, I don’t know where I’m at. I have the dogs. I’m dizzy. I’m nauseous, come help me.”

Authorities were able to track her down through her cell phone signals. The first rescuers to arrive found all six dogs curled up around her, which authorities said probably protected her from the cold. Firefighters climbed into the ravine and hoisted Anderson back up.

Anderson was hospitalized in fair condition. All the dogs were returned safely to their owners

It wasn’t the first time the dog walker has run into some bad luck.

In 2007, three of seven dogs Anderson had been walking — all at once — all got sick and died, just hours later, from what turned out to be strychnine poisoning intended to exterminate gophers.

After a morning walk on the Alta Trail above Marin City, the three dogs experienced high fevers and seizures. Two died at an area pet hospital, and a third was dead on arrival.

Walking six, seven, eight or more dogs at once strikes me as asking for trouble — no matter how well behaved the dogs are, or how experienced and physically fit the dog walker is.

I don’t think the rest of the country needs to go all San Francisco and regulate the industry. Dog owners can do that themselves, simply by asking, or insisting if necessary, that their dog not be walked in a group the size of a baseball team, or jury.

The dog walker who refuses to comply with such a request is probably more of a money seeker than a dog lover and may be better off avoided anyway.

(Top photo, a dog walker in San Francisco, by Mike Koozmin/ San Francisco Examiner; bottom photo by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

Comments

Comment from Tina
Time April 4, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Yikes!

Our local HUGE (40acre) off-leash park had to post rules about “professional” dog walkers – they were bringing in large groups of dogs in vans and let them romp around off-leash… how in the world they thought one person could track 10 dogs OFF-LEASH in a public park (not fully fenced, either), I have NO idea. Especially when these are not their dogs… just “clients”.

Professional dog walkers must now have a permit to use the park. They still bring in about 5 dogs per person, which seems way to many to keep track of, to me.

Comment from Jen
Time April 5, 2014 at 10:31 am

Is the purpose of this article to point out that it might be tough to walk more than three dogs at once or to try to say that these two very unfortunate events that happened to this dog walker are BECAUSE she was walking more than three dogs? Either way, you shouldn’t make your point through someone else’s misfortune particularly if you don’t know the circumstances of which you are referring. I know for a fact that those dogs, all 6 of them on-leash on a legal, public, open space trail, saved her life. To imply that the dog walker is somehow irresponsible because of these two incidents is careless and actually makes you irresponsible.

Comment from jeanne strongin
Time April 5, 2014 at 5:40 pm

my dog has walked with Carol for 6 years and i trust her 100% – if someone thinks that the way to control dogs is by brute strength then they shouldn’t walk even 1 dog – this was an unfortunate accident that occurred on a very bad weather day but it nothing to do with Carol’s competence or the number of dogs – Carol can and does get all her dogs over to her side sitting lickety split just by calling them!, she is one of the most considerate walkers on the trail always aware of each dog and making sure that they approach and are friendly with any dog they come into contact with and calling them over so they don’t disturb walkers w/o dogs – Carol is fit and spry for any age (to bring her age into the discussion is over the top) and the proof was that she took a 200 ft fall and was outside for a few hours in bad weather and is now home and fine

Comment from Woody
Time April 5, 2014 at 11:52 pm

With 3 months of experience as a “professional” dog walker and unknown amount of training, if any, who are you to judge? I know the dog walker. She has a permit to walk in that area and is allowed to have 6 dogs there, a manageable group on a remote fire road.
Carol Anderson has at least 20 years of experience and is one of the most professional and capable dog walkers around. It takes skill, training, experience and knowledge of dog behavior to walk multiple dogs well. She was out there in a rain storm taking dogs out for her clients who may not have been able to do so themselves. The two incidents that you are referring to are very unfortunate but not a reflection on the dog walker or her ability. Your reminder of the Alta Trail poisoning is a cheap shot! It could have happened if she had one dog. It could have happened to you. And by the way, perhaps your dog walking earnings are all profit margin for you but despite your perception, most dog walkers do not walk groups the size of a baseball team, work very hard in all sorts of weather and barely get by in the Bay Area.

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