I took some time to sit down with Jessica of Bonehemian Wags to learn more about her Sonoma County based pet services. It was such a treat to learn more about how she got into this niche, and how she works with different types of dogs. She even had some tips for my pup Ofelia, who is a notorious leash puller.
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How did you get into dog walking?
I've been an animal enthusiast since I was a child, I've always known I wanted to work with animals. I studied animal behavior and animal science in college.
I worked closely with dogs while working as a professional horse trainer. Starting a pet care and dog walking company came naturally. Combing my love for the outdoors and drive to be physically active with my passion for animals.
What is your favorite part about your job?
Enriching an animals life that does so much for us. Knowing you are bringing quality to an animals life is the most rewarding aspect of my job. Dogs live to please their humans without question. If I can give back to them even a small portion of the joy they bring us, it's worth it.
What has been the biggest success in walking and training dogs?
Measuring success when working with animals is very individualized. I find moments of success with every walk. From returning every dog home mentally and physically satiated to celebrating a pups ability to learn to walk calmly in the pack. Every walk brings new challenges, the weather, the terrain, and of course the dog! One circumstance I found myself in was a particular dog that its owner explained needed a 'special' someone to understand and appreciate her. She had said she hadn't been able to go on vacation in 4 years, since she adopted the pup. At this point in the interview I should have found the door, but flattered to think I could be that special someone for this animal that needed a sitter, I stayed and took the job. Needles to say, this dog was in need of a special someone. Polite enough once she knew you, very protective if she didn't. In the end it all worked out well, I became that someone for the owner and dog and the situation allowed me to put into practice my animal behavior skills and education to positively impact the dogs life.
How long do you walk the dogs?
At Bonehemian Wags I like to emphasize that one program doesn't work for the same two dogs. We truly strive to make each walk suit the individual. With that said, for your young spunky dogs we usually hike around 6 miles a walk and for our more 'life experienced' pups we may only go 3-4 miles. Most every walk we take time to play fetch, stop to smell the flowers and interact with each other off leash. It's extremely important for the metal health of a dog to have time to run and play with others off leash.
What's the hardest thing about your job?
Not getting to walk them all everyday! After you see how much enjoyment a dog gets out of a pack walk and interacting in new places you end up wishing every dog can go out with you everyday! Another aspect that provides a challenge to caring for and walking packs is training and the consistency they receive while with the group and what they receive at home. Dogs are smart, they know what they can and can't get away with, but it is always best to keep things consistent at home and during their walks.