Walking the Dog

What It’s Like: Dog walker takes canine packs on Oshawa trails each weekday

July 30th, 2013

Dogs get social at Harmony Valley Dog Park

As photo editor Ron Pietroniro and I enter the Harmony Valley Dog Park, a black Labrador retriever comes bounding toward us like we’re old friends.

Although I’ve never met Koda before, it’s clear she’s happy to be outdoors and running free with her pack at this off-leash park.

As am I – I’m out of the office on a sunny day to see what it’s like to walk a pack of dogs with Bonnie Perry, Whitby resident and owner of Tails and Trails Pet Care Services.

Ms. Perry has already cleaned up after one of the six dogs she’ll walk this hour and the trek has just begun.

Four are off the leash and two stay on — Buster, a yellow Labrador retriever and an original member of this Durham pack, has been a little stressed since his family moved, and Boomer, a coton de tulear, is sweet but better with his own pack than he is meeting strange dogs.

This pack meets every morning during the week and the members are ecstatic to see Ms. Perry come to their homes and take them into the red Tails and Trails van that will take them to the park.

Rounding them up each morning takes this dog lover about 45 minutes.

As we start off through the trails, running ahead with Koda is Rosie, a lively vizsla who leads the way the majority of the time. She’s also the first, along with Koda, to run into the first pond we see.

“They’re partners in crime,” says Ms. Perry.

A dog that’s smaller than my littlest cat is a Yorkshire terrier named Pickles. His little legs keep him toward the back of the pack, but he always keeps up. He chooses to skip the swim, along with Boomer.

But the rest all dash into the water and make sure to spray my note pad as they dry off. Harley, Ms. Perry’s own yellow Labrador retriever, rubs up against Mr. Pietroniro and me to get extra dry.

Despite having six excited dogs with varying personalities, Ms. Perry makes the job of walking them, picking up after them, keeping track of them, and ensuring they’re all happy and safe, look easy.

“Generally, the dogs understand the whole pack mentality,” she says. “They stay together.”

But Ms. Perry has extensive experience with walking dogs. She started her business 10 years ago in Toronto, and she’s since moved it to Durham. She now serves Whitby and Oshawa.

To her, dog walking is the best job she could have.

“What job do you have where you show up, and they’re like ‘You’re here! You’re here’!” she says.

She believes daily exercise and socialization are some of the key elements to a healthy and well-behaved dog. Harley, for example, tags along with Ms. Perry on all of her walks.

“Everyone always comments on what a good dog he is. He has lots to do, gets lots of exercise and he gets social time,” she says.

By the end of the walk, the pack has done their business, sniffed new dogs and even played with some of the regulars along the way. Once out of the park, they all pile into the van for the ride home.

Although not overly dirty, I’m ready for an application of AfterBite. As for Ms. Perry, after dropping off these dogs, she’ll do it all over again at noon with another pack, made up of different dogs with different personalities, except for Harley, of course.

Ms. Perry, who is happy to expand her packs, also provides puppy visits, potty breaks and cat visits.

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Pack Walks

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