The Short: I’m a licensed professional dog walker that wants to walk your dogs and care for your pets while you’re away. I feature visits and on-leash walks by your house currently, and will feature on- and off-leash walks at Marymoor Park beginning in September. For the long version, read on, and be sure to check the links at the top for more info.
Bear with me as this is lengthy, but I believe that if you’re going to trust me with your pets, then you deserve to know as much about me as you can.
Who Am I?
My name is Alex Bauer, I’m a 26 year old owner of two dogs that lives in Redmond, Washington. These are them:
How Did I Get Into Pet Sitting and Walking Dogs?
I’ve been around animals my entire life. I think in every baby picture of mine you can find at least one cat.
My family got our first dog when I was ten and I just fell in love. I pet-sat for our neighbors when they were on vacation for several years, visiting once a day (their daughter came by in the evenings) to feed them and let them out.
I was able to resume my pet-sitting duties in college, frequently caring for my housemate’s cat while he was away on vacation or visiting home.
In 2010 I was laid off from my job as an engineer at around the same time that my mother began teaching regularly. I used my abundance of free time for the next year and a half to feed, train, walk, and exercise her Lab – Pointer mix, traveling to the local off-leash park almost every day.
Then in late 2012, I moved to Washington with my partner and our two dogs. Out of work again, I used my (still abundant) free time to visit Marymoor park daily. Having a huge interest in dogs in general, I started chatting up a couple of the dog walkers there about different breeds, training techniques, and documentaries we’d seen on dogs. One of them suggested I get into dog walking myself as she had so much business she’d had to turn away several clients.
So What Types of Dogs Have I Been Around?
Sparkles - Sparkles was my family’s first dog, a purebred lab that we got in 1997. Normally the first dog is a learning experience, but Sparkles was the most well behaved dog I’ve ever been around. Even at a rather large, lanky 85 pounds, she was never difficult to handle. Sadly she passed away in late 2010.
Sparkles was a typical lab. As long as you had a ball to throw, she was happy. I used to take her outside for hours bouncing a rubber ball off our driveway and into the front lawn. Later in her life when her activity declined, I frequently took Sparkles to the nearby park where she could walk around the pond with me and stare down the geese.
Three Small Terrier Mixes – As I said, I pet-sat my neighbor’s dogs in high school, from around 2000-2004. They had three small (10-15 pounds) terrier mixes whose names I cannot recall. (Unfortunately as this predated camera phones, I do not have any pictures either.)
Two of the Terriers were my best friends. They’d happily play fetch with their squeaky toys in my neighbor’s dog-friendly living room. I was told the less sociable third Terrier would probably be difficult. While he never wanted to lay on my lap like the other two, I had no trouble letting him out and getting him back in, and by the end of the week he’d emerge from his hiding spot to lay next to me.
Vanek – Vanek is my mom’s current dog, a two year old rescue, and what we think is a Lab – German Shorthaired Pointer mix. She was a wake-up call after the incredibly well behaved Sparkles.
Vanek is very visually oriented. I realized this early on and shifted my training to rely much more heavily on visual cues than voice commands. This sped things up drastically, although Vanek doesn’t quite have the agreeability that Sparkles did. My mom wanted Vanek to be socialized much more than Sparkles had been, so I started taking her to the (off-leash) dog park daily after she’d become acclimated to her new home with occasional (on-leash) walks and trips to the lake (on a 25-foot lead) to change things up.
Buddy – Buddy is my friend Cassie’s Boxer – Shar Pei mix. He, like Vanek, is very playful and energetic even though he’s almost nine years old.
I pet-sat for Cassie on occasion, both at her house, and at mine, and also frequently brought Vanek and my dog Honey (more on her below) over for play-dates.
Gerbe – Gerbe is my partner’s almost-two year old purebred Pembroke Welsh Corgi. As you can see from the picture, he’s very fit for a Corgi, frequently fetching, running agility courses, and reminding people that the Corgi was bred to work herding livestock. (That’s why they’re so short, so they can’t get kicked.)
Corgis are an interesting challenge because they aren’t very big (Gerbe is about 27 pounds), but they are so strong-willed. These guys were bred to be in charge and they will let you know it. They require a very consistent routine and a job to do. Gerbe’s usually happens to be retrieving whatever toy has been tossed.
Honey – Honey is my current dog, a year-and-a-half old rescued Husky-something mix that I got in December of 2011 when I lived in upstate New York. Honey had been abandoned in a church donation room in rural New York around Thanksgiving of 2011, and had been kept in a small pen at a kill shelter. To say she was thrilled to see me when I first visited her is an understatement. When I adopted her, she was not fixed, not housebroken, not trained, and had never lived indoors.
Honey is the reason I really started learning a lot about dogs. I wanted to know what I was getting into with a Husky, and so began the reading, and the internet searching, and the calls to breeders and trainers. I had a neutral opinion on Huskies when I adopted her, but as I worked with her, I grew to love them. They are aloof, independent, and sometimes telling them what to do is a bit like telling a cat what to do. They are incredibly fast, very strong, and extremely intelligent.
And the energy…oh wow the energy. My routine with Honey is, and always has been, a daily visit to the dog park for at least an hour, preferably two. Huskies were bred to run forever and they can and will. She’s been great for helping me get into shape for hockey.
Honey is my pride and joy because successfully training a Husky not only takes an intimate understanding of the canine mind, but also an intimate understanding of the mind of that particular dog, something I’ve taken to heart in all my interactions with dogs.