Why I love being a dog walker

When I tell people that I walk dogs for a living, I almost feel them blush in embarrassment for me.

“Maybe she couldn’t afford to go to college,” they might whisper later over dinner. Why I love being a dog walker _ Lakeway, Steiner Ranch, Apache Shores, Hudson Bend, Austin

The truth is, I feel it could be too good to be true. I walk DOGS for a LIVING!

I duck through a back gate, a sliding door or a triple-bolted security entrance every day and I am greeted by mind-blowing enthusiasm.

When else can you walk into work and have all your coworkers literally jumping with pure joy because you’re there? Your worries slip away as you hold your head higher, puff out your chest and high five everyone while they cheer you through the corridor.

It’s impossible to sustain any kind of gray, Monday-morning funk after that.

Don’t get me wrong, there are what  you might call “bad days,” like when heat and hunger rattle your brain at the wrong times. Or when you take a wrong turn in a new neighborhood and end up walking for an extra half hour to find your way back.

But it’s never the dog’s fault.

Even when the dogs press your buttons, it’s like trying to be mad at your three-year-old, blue-eyed niece who grins at you with chocolate smeared across her forehead. You might shake a stern finger at her with one hand but your other hand is probably reaching for your iPhone so you can post it on Facebook.

I also love the people.

There are few greater people in my book than animal-lovers. They seem to look at the world through a slightly softer lens. They learn to be more patient, more forgiving and more compassionate.

I can also feel their blood pressure dropping while they reach down absentmindedly during our meet-and-greets and stroke their dog’s head.

“I don’t know what we’d do without him,” they all say. “He makes us laugh!”

Isn’t that what our dogs are here for? To spread joy?

My heart flutters every time one of my client’s dogs makes a new connection with me — a second longer of eye-contact, a breakthrough on obedience work or even a fully embracing bear-hug. I love those. (But don’t tell my clients that I let them do it.)

My name is Kristen and I’m a dog walker. It’s the best job in the world.

From Sydney Pet Sitters to Gusto Dogs _ Austin dog walking

This was from an old newspaper clipping when I started my first business, Sydney Pet Sitters, in Australia. When I moved to Austin I couldn't imagine going back to a desk job--at least not one without sunshine and puppies--and started Gusto Dogs. It's been love from day one.

About Kristen West

Kristen started Gusto Dogs in Austin after running a pet sitting and walking business for two years in Sydney, Australia. After discovering that the dogs benefited much more from incorporating enrichment into their daily walks, Kristen decided to make it a part of every Gusto dog walk with the aim to provide a more fulfilling experience for Austin's dogs and their owners.