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in words, sights and sounds

0122dog walker - NY-2013

No, I have to disappoint you, this is not part 2 of the of the odd jobs series, that I kicked off yesterday with Being an Extra in a Soap. In fact, I have no experience in the field of dog walking at all. But don’t get me wrong: being a dog walker is an honorable job – potentially even a lucrative business – and I would have loved to walk dogs around the block during my school days, had such a service been heard of, let alone been existent, in the small European town where I come from.

Who made dog walking a job?

The professional field of dog walking is clearly an American domain, and, as you might have guessed, a New York City invention. The man who made walking dogs a job, Mr. Jim Buck, died at 81 early this month. The New York Times dedicated a nice little piece to him and his legacy yesterday, if you want to know more.  According to the NYT, Buck started out with the city’s first School for Dogs in the early sixties, which over time evolved into a little dog walking empire, including 24 assistants who took care of an average of 150 dogs a day. Bark – not bad.

woman cleaning up after her dog

Pockets of barking happiness

New Yorkers love their dogs probably just as much as the folks from my hometown, but they have managed to develop an impressively well-thought-out doggy-care system to accommodate their and their pets’ needs in an urban environment. The sight of dog walkers with three to six furballs on their hands still makes me smile. It doesn’t get much cuter, does it? There is a profusion of dog care centers and spas, self-employed dog-sitters, and dog-friendly parks and dog runs in the city – where dogs of all shapes and sizes chase each other, balls or slightly more funky toys tossed around by their folks. To me, these dog runs are little pockets of happiness in the city, with animal-lovers glued to the fencing surrounding them. If you have a bad day, hang out there for 15 minutes and the agglomerate of doggy excitement will surely cheer you up!

Finally, if you are still up for it, have a listen to Nellie McKay singing ‘The Dog Song” – I am confident that it is appealing to dog lovers.

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