NEW YORK — Wearing black leggings and a pufferfish jacket, 35-year-old Bethany Laine walked down Manhattan’s Bleecker Street last Friday afternoon with a pack of three Goldendoodles and a Vernedoodle named Tinkerbell. . They poked their noses into a Whalebone store to collect treats, then trotted along Hudson River Park for some tourists to take pictures.
An hour later, Lane took them home to a stately townhouse owned by a professional couple in their 40s who had made their fortune in real estate. ‘s job,” she said. “I fall in love with these dogs. They’re like my babies.”
Lane started walking dogs 11 years ago. After he graduated from Rutgers University, he moved to New York City to pursue a career in public health. “She had to pay her rent and student loans, so she got on Craigslist,” she said. “I saw someone pay me to walk their dogs. As a dog-obsessed animal lover, it was perfect.”
As her business took off, she founded Whistle & Wag in 2014 as a boutique pet care service in the West Village. At one point, she was able to work her 12-hour day, pay off her student loans, and hire other dog walkers.
Now, nearly three years into the pandemic, she can’t keep up with demand. After raising fees (one customer quoted her as $35 per walk) and gaining dozens of new customers, she posted her six-figure profit last year. (she declined to elaborate).
She’s confident enough in her business that she bought a weekend home in Tuckerton, New Jersey last summer. “This is her three-bedroom home, but it has a very nice yard and faces the bay,” she says, sharing her home in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn with her longtime partner. said Lane, who lives in a two-bedroom rental. She said, “I can go to any restaurant when I want. I can go on vacation. I am very lucky.”
“If I told my younger self that I could make a living taking care of dogs, I wouldn’t have believed it,” she added.
It’s a favorable time to take a dog walk, especially for wealthy pet entrepreneurs. A search on Rover and other job sites shows that novice dog walkers in Manhattan charge only $14 for a 30-minute walk, while veteran dog walkers with wealthy clients charge almost three times as much. charges and earns over $100,000 a year. .
It’s a bull market for pet care providers, after all. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, more than 23 million American households (almost one-fifth of the nation) got a dog or cat during the pandemic. With so many Americans back in the office, someone has to walk the pandemic puppies.
“Pre-pandemic, potential new clients would call me once or twice a month,” says Lane. “Now I get calls multiple times a week. Lots of puppies.”
Dog walkers have traditionally not only sought those seeking a stable job, but also the flexibility to pursue other passions. For actors, musicians, writers, students, retirees, stay-at-home parents, and anyone wondering what they want to do, it was a glamorous job.
The rise of pet owners and the boom in pet care have turned dog walking into a business venture. Standard walks as well as nature hikes, day trips to farms, camps and dog spas.
Among those looking to capitalize on this moment is Michael Josephus, 34, a former special needs teacher from Brooklyn. He was training Willie, a mixed black Labrador, in Prospect Park after school. he said. “People saw our relationship and asked me if I could train their dogs.”
In 2019, Josephs decided to quit teaching and start Parkside Pups, charging $20 for a 30-minute group walk. Within a month, he had about 8 customers, worked about 5 hours a day, and was making about $30,000 a year.
Business came to a halt during the 2020 pandemic lockdown, but has since recovered. “2022 is going great,” said Josephus, who lives in Middletown, New Jersey. I’m starting to see dogs in areas where I’ve never seen dogs before.”
Parkside Pups currently offers puppy training ($60 an hour), pet sitting ($65 a day), and 15-minute puppy check-in ($12), and generated over $100,000 last year. said Joseph.
Joseph’s wife, Clarissa Soto, helps out with the business, and the couple is considering expanding into a dog daycare near Prospect Park and a lodging camp in western Connecticut. It gave me financial stability,” said Soto, who gave birth last year. “We set up a savings fund for him. We have a college fund.”
They also have more disposable income. “We went on a six-day vacation at Disney World with my family,” Joseph said. “We went to Miami. Stayed for days, we can splurge.