You leave for your day with all intentions of making it back to care for your Animal Companion; however, the day takes another turn while you are away. It could be a list of numerous 'things.' What do you do? You know your "Buddy" needs to go potty, maybe go for a walk, needs to be fed, or even medication...
There is one solution that I have found in my many years, over 30 years of experience working with Animals. I could make a list; however, I have cared for Animals in numerous ways, including having my own petsitting service, offering home visits, dog walking, and a unique boarding/daycare. In 2011, I sold it and have been traveling on a motorcycle with my little Dog as an Animal Chaplain and Humane Minister.
I returned to USA from India recently needing to raise money for a dream, with no actual 'house' of my own, only the non-profit's motorcycle, my gear, my little Dog, and blessed with what I call Soul Family to stay with till I got my footing. That is it.
I was familiar with Uber; however, that does not work with a motorcycle! I remembered something called Couchsurfing, but I really appreciate 'being of service.' It was not long before I had brought to my attention two beautiful programs...TrustedHouseSitters and Wag Walking. Perfect!
As far as TrustedHousesitters, (Feel free to use my referral code to get 20% off your membership https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/su/fuayGqXF ) I know what it is like to make sure your home and your Animal Companions are taken care of, and on a budget. I know how important it is for Animals to stay in their familiar surroundings, as well. And, I also know what it is like to travel and appreciate a place to stay, with Animals around, and on a budget. It is a win, win for everyone. However, that is not what I want to discuss here.
I would like to share what I believe are some GREAT benefits of this program, Wag Walking! For the owners, the Dogs, and the Walkers themselves, so I will do my best to explain, short and clear...and maybe toss in a story or two.
They meet a variety of people or Wag Walkers. Meeting these different Wag Walkers adds and helps with their socialization with people. This is because there is no guarantee who will be their Wag Walker. There is an option to save preferred Wag Walkers once you begin and it is good to have several preferred Wag Walkers. However, for a first-time Wag Dog, those first few visits can be a bit confusing for them until they understand they are here for them, taking them on a walk, and returning them home. Some new Wag owners decide to be home for the first couple of Walks to be sure all goes smoothly. So everyone is gaining an experience and beginning a relationship.
Once the relationship begins, there is a peace of mind for the owner, where they can order a Wag Walk in advance or in an emergency. I believe Wag Walkers can be a part of the Emergency plans. While beyond the personal emergencies, there are all the "Natural Disasters" taking place. If one arrives in your area, the Wag Dogs are accustomed to someone coming in, hooking them up on a leash, and taking them for a walk. I can see where Wag in situations like a larger scale emergency can be quite useful. On the Walkers side, Wag Walkers have learned to befriend the nervous ones and move slowly.
All the walkers are background checked, there is video training and testing online; however, what I will say is that with all my years' experience, in many situations and conditions...there is not much that can prepare you for the first few times you walk into a home with a Dog that nervous, a bit timid or scared or protective. Also, there have been 2 reports about Wag being sued for a dog getting loose from a Walker. This can happen to even the best, and the responsibility is the one walking the Dog. We are required (not to mention a good idea) to check the collar and leash before leaving on the walk.
The walker themselves learn a variety of personalities and situations when walking into a new client. Ya never know what you are walking into.
There is emergency support built into the app for the Walkers to use and some familiarity training and if there are problems, Wag encourages communication via phone and/or text with the owner. This has definitely been a wonderful resource if the owner is available to respond and talk the walker through anything that might need clarification.
Dogs have an instinct if someone DOES have ulterior motives, whether the Wag Walker (highly unlikely) or with a break-in. Dogs know and will definitely respond accordingly, so I highly doubt that our beloved animal companions will be desensitized or confused by such a service.
For these reasons, in these challenging times beyond COVID, I can personally see that it can be a wonderful benefit to have such a service available for both emergencies, socialization, and added 'training' for our beloved animal companions.