Dog Walking Is Fast Becoming a Narrative Art

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We tell dog parents stories in order to live.

The Washington Post published a trend piece on Wednesday about the literary requirements often placed upon dog walkers who work for helicopter pet owners. The article’s thesis is that such dog walkers cannot merely walk dogs, they must also delight with witty and constant text banter:

“In a nation where people lead ever more busy lives and increasingly view their dogs as family members, professional dog walking is flourishing. And along with it is what might be viewed as the unusual art of dog walker communication. Many of today’s walkers do not simply stroll—not if they want to be rehired, anyway. Over text and email, they craft fine-grained, delightful narratives tracing the journey from arrival at the residence to drop-off. They report the number of bathroom stops. They take artistic photos, and lots of them.”

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Poop logs are a frequent request. Christy Griffin, a dog-walker who lives in San Francisco told the Post that these logs can sometimes track the dog’s social habits as well. “I give a full report that includes not only peeing and pooping but also kind of general well-being, and if the dog socialized with other dogs.” Notes for a novel, if you ask me.

Some of the dog walkers interviewed by The Post work for a company, like Rover, which mandates its workers turn in report cards. Jenna White, who directs the company’s dog walking operations, says that “ongoing, two-way communication is actually one of the most important components to a successful walk. What we’ve heard from owners is the more details, the better. You can’t have too many details.”

But most of these highly-communicative dog shepherds are autodidacts. Take Perry Edon III. According to The Post, “[Edon] said his humorous text missives—and they are nearly all text—are an extension of his ‘quirky’ personality.”

Very enlightening article. I am now inspired and emboldened to start an urban dog walking service that exclusively hires people with fiction MFAs called “Writer’s Block.”

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About the author

Hannah Gold

contributing writer, nights