no bucket lists here

Well where to start….it’s been a LONG eleven months since I posted anything here. To say I didn’t have time would be a lie. With Covid-19 shutdowns and my business cut in half I have had plenty of time to write a post, I just didn’t have the idea or inspiration. I was worried about my business and the state of the world and didn’t want to write anything negative sounding but negative was what I was feeling. Roughly a year ago the whole entire world looked like a totally different place. Covid-19 changed the world in so many ways but I’m going to talk about what changed for me and the industry I’m in.

Firstly many animal based industries like dog walking were completely shut down early in 2020 for eight weeks, being deemed as non-essential. Although many of my clients were working from home and still wanted me to walk their dogs I was not allowed to; some clients had kids home from school or were home themselves and were able to walk the dog so no longer required my services. Most of the world transitioned to online work, zoom meetings and terms like social distancing and wearing masks became normal. When I was able to go back to work I had to ask clients to ensure their dogs were used to seeing a person in a mask as that was how I would be arriving to their home to take their dog out. As most of the world did, I had to make some changes to my services and the way I operated. Namely, I no longer use the dogs’ own leashes but purchased biothane leashes that I could use and sanitize between walks, wearing a mask became normal when entering a home, I carry and use hand sanitizer like it’s going out of style, there is no longer any stopping to chat with my clients that were home but rather a quick pick up/drop off to ensure proper social distancing. There was nothing I could do with my business to move it online as the rest of the world had. How do you walk a dog online?

While I was shut down I took an online course in iphone photography to improve the photos I took for my clients as well as for my website and social media outlets. I also took part in some dog training challenges and videos for friends and other groups I am a part of. I found a part time job at a dog training school as I have always loved training dogs but just didn’t have the time to offer it to my clients. If clients ever asked I was always willing to share tips, tricks or ideas but just didn’t offer it as a service. So here was a new world opening up to me in terms of employment. I tried to make the most of the diminished schedule by spending a LOT of time outdoors this summer hiking, running and paddleboarding with my dogs. Luckily I was still able to participate in some new forms of classes for my dogs where masks and hand sanitizer joined the regular items in my agility training bag.

Just prior to Covid-19 I participated in a fun event last winter called Iron Paws which encourages outdoor activity with your dogs. I loved it and had so much fun. It inspired me to track each and every bit of activity I did with my dogs using a tracking app on my phone. I joined another challenge and received a stunning medal when it was completed. The challenge was to complete 1000 kms of activity in the calendar year. I only tracked activity I did with my dogs and finished in September. By the end of 2020 we logged 1200 kms (yes, I still kept track after the challenge was completed since it became a habit) I’m not a super competitive person but I do like to track accomplishments. I much prefer to document and count “up”, so to speak, the things I have done rather than check them off in a countdown to what?? The day I can no longer do those things? Bucket lists are not for me thanks. I had a great idea to start tracking how much walking/hiking I did with YOUR dogs until the first Covid shutdown. I say the first shutdown because as I type this Ontario is in the midst of another shutdown where dog walking has been deemed non-essential again. At this point I may just hold off on the idea until 2022.

I do have some ideas of new things to introduce to my business and I still await the surge of people needing my services as it seems EVERYONE got dogs during the pandemic!!! Yay!! I do worry, as most in the pet animal industries, that with people being home so much with their new pets they will not have been appropriately trained or properly socialized and may suffer from separation anxiety when their owners do return to work. I am currently working on putting together an at-home training program for pet dogs that you can access online and work at your own pace with your pup! How exciting! Stay tuned!! If this sounds like something you’re interested in contact me for more info wagsnwiggles.sue@gmail.com

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