The Dog Walker Diaries: My First Year at the Best Job Ever!

I have the best part-time job ever. I’m told this all the time by people I don’t even know. I make my own schedule, can work as much or as little as I want, and make $18/hr with tips.

I’m a dog walker!

 

During my gap year, I worked at Petsmart. I loved my job so much, and if it weren’t for college, I never would have left. It was the greatest job I’d ever had (and I’ve worked at 4 other retail establishments) But, school was calling, and I moved to NYC to start my freshman year. I applied to dozens of places around my dorm and school on the Upper East Side and midtown, but I knew anything I did wouldn’t give me the same sense of fulfillment that working with animals had. At an orientation session during welcome week, the app Wag! was mentioned, and immediately caught my attention.

 

October 3rd marked one year that I’ve been working for Wag, and every time I talk about it, I make a point to say that I am so grateful and lucky to have this job. It has been the most rewarding experience, and while it’s a lot of hard work and responsibility, I still find myself surprised that I get paid to take care of these animals.

(L: Cece R: Herschel)

(Irwin, the first dog I ever walked <3)

 

If you’ve never heard of Wag (like I hadn’t), Wag walking is an app-driven service that recruits, background checks, trains, and insures its walkers. Owners have referred to it as the “uber for dogs” - although we bring them right back home. Owners can book walks in advance or on-demand, can book a recurring weekly walk for the same date and time with the same walker, or keep a list of preferred walkers that can pick up walks at a moments notice. The owner receives live GPS tracking, updates when they go potty, and a report card, complete with a picture at the end.

(Vino)

(Bella)

 

I applied to Wag online and had to go through a video interview, several safety tests, and a background check. I already had safety training at Petsmart, so some of it was already second nature. I was notified via email when I could schedule an orientation session in Brooklyn, which cost $25. Yes, that sounds strange. This is because on top of going over basic Wag rules and safety precautions, Wag gives you a t-shirt, bandana, and business cards which can be given out so new users can use your code to get Wag credits (and you get a bonus!). When you wear that Wag apparel and put the bandanna on the dog during the walk, you get $1 for advertising. So, I’ve already made my money back (and more) from my orientation fee.

After orientation, they sent me the link for the Wag!Walker App - a different app than the owners use that you can download on the app store. Through my app, I can see what dogs need to be walked in my area, request to be chosen to walk them, fill up my schedule, and track my paycheck.

(A typical day on the app. I usually try to get most walks within a mile of my home so that I can walk)

 

The great thing about having this job as a college student is that I can make my own schedule. No one tells me when I can and can’t work. I can work 12 hours one day, 0 hours the next, and a ½ hour so forth. As I got used to it, I was more aware of how I can schedule each walk, figured out how fast I can get from one residence to the next, and request the walks that will allow me to be as efficient as possible. If I walk a dog on 5th street from 2-2:30, it wouldn’t be possible to schedule a dog on 30th street for 2:30. However, I can do a dog from 2:45-3:15 on 10th street, then another from 3:30-4 on 6th street.

 

Because I can tailor my own schedule, I can make my own paycheck how I please. To be a dog walker, you need to have your own motivation. Each week’s pay can vary because some people tip and some people don’t. To get tips, you need to go above and beyond and give the owner detailed report cards. Each week, I set a goal for how many walks I want to do per week. This week, I’m doing 20 walks and a weekend sitting session, but last weekend I was sick with a fever and did 9 for the week. The amount of work you put in directly affects your pay. One week, I might have a day off school because of a holiday, so I’ll make a little extra.

 

(Alfie)

 

(Coco, a former recurring client. I walked her and fed her lunch every single weekday from February to May<3)

Walking dogs is such a great, fulfilling job. Don’t get me wrong, it can have it’s challenges though. On a busy week, I’ll walk up to 13 miles a day. I’m trusted with people’s four-legged children. Some owners are rude. I have to go into owners’ homes to get the dogs; sometimes they’re home, sometimes they’re not and they’ve left me a key. In rare circumstances, the dogs are restless, rowdy and difficult. Sometimes I’m walking dogs after dark and it gets a little scary (I always bring pepper spray). I’m always outside - in the heat, rain, and snow. However, there are many, many more pros than cons, that makes me incredibly grateful to work with my lovely furry friends!

 

If you're an owner and want to try out Wag for your fur baby, here's my link!