Image of Steph with 2 black dogs standing in field - words say The day in the life of a  Pack Dog Walker

As the dawn breaks and the world outside begins to stir, my day kicks off with a very special routine, one that involves embarking on adventures through farmlands and woods with a spirited pack of dogs.

My role as a dog walker is more than just a profession; it’s a commitment to ensuring these dogs experience the joy and freedom of the great outdoors while maintaining their safety at all times.

The journey begins…

My journey begins with the dog van, a vehicle designed to transport each member of our furry crew in comfort and safety. The van is equipped with individual crates for each dog, complete with escape doors designed to ensure their safety in the unlikely event of an accident. In the van, there is a dog first aid kit, water, and loads of hand san!

Waterproofs and Wellies

Preparing for our walks, waterproofs and wellies are a must; after trying various brands over the years, I find myself consistently reaching for Argle wellies and Gortex coats and overtrousers. They’ve become indispensable companions on our damp, muddy adventures.

I am armed with the best quality poo bags money can buy. I have had my share of burst bags full of dog poo! It didn’t take long before I stopped biting my nails once I became a dog adventurer!

List of Essentials

I am a forgetful soul, so I have a list of essentials:

• House keys & WD40 just in case the lock is stuck
• Leads
• Spare collars
• Poo bags
• Dicki bag (emptied of course)
• Water & Bowls
• Lunch or pocket money for Scooby Snacks

Going that Extra Mile

Sometimes the adventures start before we even get to the walking destination.

I have had to, on occasion, break into a property to gain entrance. Two little dogs desperately needing the loo were eagerly awaiting their walk when I realized Mum had locked me out. With her consent, her neighbour and I gained entrance via a window!!

I do like to go that extra mile for my customers. Normally putting a bin out of letters out of the way.

Image of David up ladder entering a property with Kate holding the ladder below to get to 2 dogs who need the toilet

Managing Danger Times

One of the most challenging moments of our day occurs even before we reach our destination: getting in and out of the van.

The dogs, brimming with anticipation, can sometimes get a bit overexcited, leading to
a flurry of jumping and pulling. To manage this, I’ve learned to master the art of patience, taking it in turns to let them out of the van, ensuring everyone remains safe and under control.

I choose to explore on our own land to minimize the risks of bumping into the general public, including any off-leash dogs we may meet. I appreciate this is a privilege and possibly accounts for the fact that I am one of the few dog walkers that have stood the test of time…?

The freedom to roam the vast expanses of farmland and explore the woods comes with its set of rules.  Only dogs with excellent recall are allowed off-lead; others are kept on long lines until they have proven they can be trusted.

Our adventures aren’t without their hazards—deer, foxes, and the irresistible allure of fox poo present challenges that require constant vigilance. For these inevitable  encounters, I rely on “Dirty Beastie” shampoo to tackle any unwanted fox poo incidents.

Five Dogs At A Time

I choose to walk no more than five dogs at a time.

This decision stems from the desire to provide each dog with the attention they deserves and to minimize risks, such as unforeseen interactions with unknown dogs. During walks, we practice listening and waiting skills at the gates and happily do some tricks for a tiny treat.

Tessa’s Love Of Water

Our walks aren’t without their memorable moments: a Cocker Spaniel Tessa discovering her love for water and refusing to leave a pond for forty-five minutes, and another, Meg another cocker got lost. I have emergency plans in place for such eventualities. Nick my partner gets an SOS call, and a farmer army is dispatched to help. Armed with binoculars and some liver cake he found the little treasure heading back to the farm.

These things do happen but thankfully it has only happened to me four times in nearly ten years!

Little Meg is still a do-littles adventurer who now sports Doggles to protect her eyes after surgery necessitated by a run-in with a thorn. They also protect against grass seeds getting in her eyes.

Safety is always our top priority, and I am always hypervigilant looking about to spot wildlife, dangers, ahead before
my pack does.

Do-Little's - Meg the spaniel wearing Doggles

Meg wearing Doggles

Rural Walks

Rural walks are my daily dose of therapy. I am mindful and present when I am with my dog friends. No phones allowed, only for photos when I remember. This is so I don’t miss seeing the dogs having a great time, nor miss the magical moments such as witnessing red fly agaric mushrooms dotting the landscape, spotting deer peeking through the foliage, or even the simple pleasure of watching bees buzzing about in the summer, making every challenge worth it.

Whether I’m pulling dogs out of ditches or teaching them how to swim in streams, each day is an adventure, a story of companionship between woman and dog against the backdrop of nature’s splendour.

This is more than just a walk around the streets. It’s a journey filled with smiles, barks, learning, and the occasional plunge into a stream. It’s about fostering a bond with these incredible animals while ensuring their happiness and safety.

And as each day ends, as I clean the last of the fox poo from a furry friend or dry off a pair of soggy wellies, I’m reminded of the joy and fulfilment this job brings—not just to me, but to the dogs who, day after day, look forward to their next great adventure