A dog’s best friend
“Before they (dogs) receive love and affection, they need exercise, clear direction, and leadership. Giving them love alone doesn’t create balance in their lives.”mumbai Updated: Jan 03, 2010 01:38 IST
“Before they (dogs) receive love and affection, they need exercise, clear direction, and leadership. Giving them love alone doesn’t create balance in their lives.”
That’s the gospel according to Ceaser Millan, the US-based dog whisperer and the father of all dog walkers. Millan, is known to walk over 10 dogs at a time, at times roller-blading while he’s at it — all this without batting an eyelid.
And though 10 may be a bit of a handful, Kishore Ahire, a dog walker from Navi Mumbai boasts of walking at least two dogs at a time — always without a leash.
“I like to walk them without a leash and train all my clients’ dogs to walk that way,” says Ahire. His father was a dog squad trainer. “I’ve always loved dogs,” he says.
Ahire is one of a growing breed of people in Mumbai who have married their love for the canines with the needs of the city.
Dog owners have too little time in the city to walk their dogs. Enter the dog walkers. They walk the dog and even get paid for the company of those happy paws. The remuneration is between Rs 1,200 and Rs 3,000 a month.
Imran Patel of Aayan Dog Training in Dadar is another dog walker and trainer and has about 10 clients on his roster. He walks four to five dogs a day. Patel too started walking dogs when he was training police dogs. “More and more people are keeping pets but don’t have the time to walk them,” he points out.
Walking is a necessity, not a ‘treat’ or an outing, for dogs, say the dog experts. “Most dogs are cooped up in flats in Mumbai that don’t have much place, so it’s especially important to walk them.”
Companionship with the canine is only one of the fringe benefits for these walkers. The daily exercise helps them stay healthy too.
“The minimum walk for a medium- to-large-sized dog should be for 45 minutes, twice daily,” says Sanjay Jadhav, who runs Sanjay Pet Service, in Goregaon. Smaller dogs like pugs can be walked for 20 minutes at a time. “It’s important to let them run or ensure they walk for two or three kilometers at least,” says Ahire.
Jadhav says that often dogs become hyper because they stay indoors for extended periods. “If dogs are kept tied up and not walked properly, they don’t know where to let off their energy. Walking can solve these problems,” he says.
These dog walkers understand that dogs are supposed to run in the open and not kept captive in a flat.
“Dogs are meant to run around freely. If we have to keep them in a flat, then, as their care takers, it is our duty to ensure they get enough exercise,” says Ahire.
And for these professionals it is not just another job. “I build a relationship with the dogs and understand their language,” says Ahire emphasising that the dogs communicate provided one listens.
Patel has no formal training but says that it’s important to familiarise yourself with the dog you are going to walk. “I also ensure that they are socialised. I take them to parks where there are people and other dogs,” he says.
And what about the odd mishap? “I do have a bite from a German Shepard but that has not made a difference to me. I’m a hardcore dog lover; don’t humans get angry and lash out as well?,” asks Jadhav.
This weekly column examines the diversity of urban communities