Finding a dog walker saved the day

July 10, 2019

Jane and her husband were only meant to be caring for puppy Apollo for a few months. But one year on, he’s become a permanent fixture in their lives. As they both work, they needed to find a dog walker to help care for their bouncy golden retriever. Read their story…

It became a standing joke that every year, when my husband would ask what I would like for my birthday, I would reply “a puppy”. My 50th birthday was no exception. Only this time there really was a puppy…but my husband didn’t know anything about it. 

I work for an animal welfare organisation and responded to a request for puppy fosterers, half expecting that my application wouldn’t be successful but, lo and behold, it was. So there I was on the eve of my 50th birthday driving home and rehearsing in my head how I was going to break the news to my husband that a 15-week-old golden retriever was about to come and live with us.

On the basis that this would be temporary, my husband relented and Apollo bounded into our lives. That was at the end of January 2018 and, as one of litter of puppies whose owner was being prosecuted by the RSPCA, we expected Apollo to be with us for no more than six months. So it came as a complete shock in March that year when we heard that Apollo’s former owner had relinquished all the puppies, and suddenly we were faced with a decision. Did we want to give Apollo a permanent home? 

Despite the years of resistance, it was an instant “yes” from my husband. I, on the other hand, was feeling a little more apprehensive and needed to be persuaded. 

Escalating costs

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to keep Apollo. It’s just that the last couple of months had really opened my eyes to the enormity of being a dog owner. First, I hadn’t been prepared for the cost. Between Apollo and our rescue cat, D’artagnan, we fork out around £300 a month. This includes their monthly health care plan, pet insurance, food and the dog care we need for Apollo, which brings me onto my second point. 

I’m lucky that I can take Apollo to work with me. However, I’d imagined that Apollo would be happy sleeping at my feet, we’d take a nice lunchtime walk and I’d be able to get my work done just as normal. Not so. I soon realised that dogs – and in particular bouncy golden retrievers – don’t enjoy sitting quietly under a desk. Some dogs settle in an office environment, but not all. And not Apollo. My productivity at work was suffering, as were my colleagues who were being disturbed by Apollo’s barking, and my stress levels were sky high. I needed a solution, fast. 

“We hadn’t budgeted for a dog walker, but for an hour’s pay of my day to have a happy dog, and a happy owner, it’s worth every penny.”

Finding a dog walker

That solution came in the form of my two dog walkers. Two days a week Apollo spends half a day with a dog walker and the other half at home. He still comes to work with me, but just for two days a week (I work four days in total). At 8.30am, Apollo is picked up by his other dog walker from my office, who takes him off to play and run around with his doggy friends and then drops him back again at 10am. By lunchtime, Apollo is ready for another walk, after which he’ll finally sleep for the rest of the afternoon. We hadn’t budgeted for a dog walker. but for an hour’s pay of my day to have a happy dog, and a happy owner, it’s worth every penny.  

We also learned that it’s not all about the physical exercise. Apollo needs plenty of mental stimulation too. I hide treats in the garden for him to go and find; and have set up an agility course on the lawn, which he loves. And if I don’t…well let’s say that he’s already dug up most of the flower bed!

Life adjustment

It’s been a huge adjustment having Apollo in our lives. We don’t have children but I think it must be exactly the same. It’s another little life, be it four-legged, that you’re responsible for. I’ve always had cats, and they don’t mind you going out and coming home late. Dogs do. They don’t just fit around you – you need to adapt your life to fit them. 

Last year we took Apollo camping with us, twice. The first time he was still quite little and calm. The second time was a different story. Apollo didn’t like being tethered, which you have to do on campsites, and barked constantly. It wasn’t a relaxing holiday for any of us. 

This year, we’ve decided to take a holiday without Apollo. He’ll be going on his own holiday. Thankfully, one of our dog walkers provides home boarding – we didn’t want to put him in kennels. He’ll have a great time, and we’ll be happy knowing he’s happy. 

We’ve got into a much better routine now but had to make some big changes to our lifestyle. Weekend lie-ins are a thing of the past, as are spontaneous romantic weekends away or nights out. But it’s been worth it, and we’re so glad Apollo came to stay. 

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