Got a pudgy pooch who needs a walk?
An East Gull Lake woman is offering a solution for area dog owners who don't have time to walk their dogs or can't get home soon enough to let them outside to perform their doggie duties.
For nearly two years, Michelle Arens has served as a professional dog walker. The stay-at-home mom has always loved dogs. She and her husband, Greg, have two cocker spaniels, Wyatt and Keats. Arens often worried about dogs whose owners left them at home for extended periods of time so she volunteered to let their dogs out of the house or took them for walks. She then thought maybe there was a need for a dog walker in the Brainerd area.
For $15, Arens will go to your home and take your dogs on a brisk 30-minute walk. When she returns, she'll top off their water bowl and feed them if you wish. For a $10 fee, Arens will go to your home to let your dogs out, cleaning up their waste in your yard after their outing. She also picks up after the dogs on their walks.
Not only is Arens creating her own part-time job, but she has found it provides her with an excellent physical workout.
"My favorite thing to do is walk and I love being with dogs. I just love it," said Arens. "It's a good cardio workout and the dogs are so happy."
So does her 5-year-old daughter, Madison, who often helps her mom with her dog walking duties. Arens said her daughter often talks to their own dogs before they leave to dog walk, reminding the cocker spaniels that, "We have to go walk dogs because that's what we do. We're dog walkers."
Arens has several clients for whom she works for only when they have business trips to the Twin Cities or need to be away from home for a long time on a given day. She has posted several posters around the Brainerd-Baxter area advertising for her dog walking business and finds clients through word of mouth. The Arens family has lived in East Gull Lake for the past four years. They moved here from St. Paul after her husband got a job at Nelson-Mitchell Advertising Outfitters in Baxter.
Leslie Skone, Brainerd, uses Arens' dog walking services for her three dogs -- her long-haired miniature dachshund named Chardenny, her jack russell terrier named Jack and Sawyer, a Lab mix.
"They're hyper dogs and they're busy and they dig and they chew on everything," said Skone. "She's real good with the dogs and they look forward to her coming. It's a big peace of mind for me. The dogs love her."
Skone said the dogs seem to look forward to Arens' visits and are calmer when she returns home from work. Arens takes the dogs out individually on 10-minute walks. Her dogs, she said, are just like her children.
"I'd love to do it all day long," Arens said of dog walking.
Before they were fortunate to have their daughter, the Arenses were told they couldn't have any children. Their dogs became like their children before Madison came along. Now the dogs are like Madison's siblings. Arens said many of her clients treat their dogs the same way, as members of their family. One of her clients dresses her small Yorkshire terrier in sweaters and jewelry. The largest dog she's walked was a boxer, which practically dragged her down the street.
In the summer, Arens carries with her bags of ice cubes that she gives to the dogs to keep them cool. Some dogs -- like many people -- don't like to walk outside during the winter. She tries to keep them moving so they don't quit on her. Arens often takes a photo of her doggie clients and puts it in a frame for their owners.
To hire Arens to walk or let out your dog, give her a call at 833-0112.
JODIE TWEED, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
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