Tag Archives: beagles

Portraits of NYC Dog Walkers and Their Fascinating Stories

6 Nov

Amy Lombard

Gina Fantozzi, Gramercy.

Big ones, small ones, short ones, tall ones—we’re talking about man’s best friends—and the art of dog walking. Jim Buck is believed to be the first professional dog walker, setting up a dog walking service in NYC in 1960. Today the unique profession is rapidly growing, and we sent photographer Amy Lombard exclusively for Feature Shoot to capture some of NYC’s dog walkers who have it down to a science—no leash-tangling here.

Lombard followed the walkers and their client pups all over, from the Upper East side to Van Cortland Park in the Bronx, and though quite the veteran animal photographer, Lombard said this was whole new ball game. “It was sort of like photographing a group of children and you’re trying to get everyone to look at the camera or cooperate. Not saying they were bad models, of course, but when you’re dealing with a group of them it’s a bit more challenging.” We asked these leaders of the pack to tell us more about managing their lot on the busy streets of NYC.

Amy Lombard

What are some tricks of the trade in handling so many dogs?
“Keep it moving and have a treat in your pocket and smell vaguely like spicy turkey—dogs love that.”

What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you while walking the dogs?
“A guy in a suit offered me $5000 to pick him up at his office, walk him to the bathroom and teach him how to “sit”. I declined.”

Do you have any street snackers? Anything in particular that you have to watch out for on the NYC streets?
“Chicken bones, they are the worst!”

Amy Lombard

Ryan Stewart, Long Island City, Queens.

Amy Lombard

What are some tricks of the trade in handling so many dogs?
“A couple things that come to mind are natural ability and experience. But a trick that anyone can use is arrangement of the pack. What does a teacher do with troublemakers in her class? She puts them right in the front. I keep the mischievous canines closest to me, on a short leash. Better-behaved dogs can have the outer circle.”

Do you have any street snackers? Anything in particular that you have to watch out for on the NYC streets?
“I have potential grubbers. Scent hounds like beagles and plott hounds tend to be the worst with the exception of shelter dogs who spent any amount of time wandering the streets—they’re voracious garbage hunters.”

Do all of your dogs get along?
“Absolutely not! Did you ever read Lord of the Flies? Without a steady leader, many of the dogs would express their dislike for each other using force. A trained eye can spot a dirty look and run interference before it escalates into a skirmish.”

Amy Lombard

Susanna Cook, Bronx

Amy Lombard

What are some tricks of the trade in handling so many dogs?
“The trick is Cesar Milan’s basic lesson. You have to be the alpha dog. Once they know you are in charge, they trust you and accept anything. If you bring a new dog to the pack, they know they have to welcome it. Seven or 8 big dogs can pull down any dog walker, but they don’t—because they don’t want to. They wouldn’t do that to their alpha dog.”

Do all of your dogs get along?
“Yes, they do. Because I say so.”

How do people react when they see you on the street? Do you stop and let people pet the dogs?
“Nobody is indifferent or walks by without noticing me. Most people smile and love the dogs because they are too cute! Some people look at me with an angry face, in an elevator, for example, but at some point they can’t help it and have to smile—they can’t resist. Dogs make angry people smile sometimes, and they make sick and old people happy. Most people say the same joke, ‘You have your hands full!’ And I laugh every time—they don’t know I hear the same joke 20 times a day, so I laugh as if I am hearing it for the first time. And it amuses me that they all think it’s a very original comment.”

Amy Lombard

Katie Nitti, Midtown East.

Amy Lombard

What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you while walking the dogs?
“I can’t remember a specific strange instance but on a day to day basis I’ve witnessed others acting strange. I’ve seen men taking shits on the street and there is a formerly crack addicted dog walker that likes to scream at me at the dog park at least three times a week. I’ve been hit both by a car and a van (luckily when alone and I wasn’t injured). I once stopped a man who broke his girlfriend’s cell phone and was screaming at her on the street while I was walking (the world’s nicest) pitbull. He was scared of the dog and got back in his car when I walked over to see what the problem was. The dogs are all really great and all of their owners are lovely. So for the most part anything strange is just a product of being on the streets of New York all day, everyday.”

Do you have any street snackers? Anything in particular that you have to watch out for on the NYC streets?
“Most of the dogs are street snackers, some are just more aggressive than others. Last week Sonny picked up an entire sub from the street and Susie had to rip the sub out of her mouth from both sides. Chloe is constantly picking up and eating leaves and Charlie loves sticks. They get so excited to eat food, leaves and sticks from the street or park so you feel bad having to reprimand them when they do. Plus they are so proud of themselves when they find a street snack.”

Amy Lombard

Ali Moore, Brooklyn.

Amy Lombard

What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you while walking the dogs?
“An eccentric woman approached me in the pouring rain to ask if dogs catch colds when they go out in the rain. She was concerned that they were getting rained on and I assured her that as soon as they peed, I would take them inside and dry them off. So she decided to help by doing a strange “pee dance”, hopping from foot to foot with her hands held up like paws. She wasn’t helping; all the dogs were looking at her instead of sniffing for a good pee place. She finally started to move on, but turned back when she saw one of them sniff a tree to scream, ‘Do it! Do it now! Do it!’”

Do you have any street snackers? Anything in particular that you have to watch out for on the NYC streets?
“Yes, we walk many skillful “scavengers.” There’s a ton of stuff to watch out for but the most common in Brooklyn are chicken bones, smelly ginko tree fruits and bird bread and other leftovers that people put out for pigeons (rice, cornmeal, etc). We try to scan the sidewalk before the pups and keep them close.

Amy Lombard

Jarrod Hicks, East Harlem/UES.

Amy Lombard

What are some tricks of the trade in handling so many dogs?
“Group them by energy level as opposed to size. Some of those little guys give the big ones a run for their money. Also, go out of your way to walk down infrequently trafficked streets. It will end up saving you time in the long run.”

What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you while walking the dogs?
“Most of our pups live fairly, how shall we say, privileged lives. I had one client that after I walked her, I would drop her off at a restaurant, where she would have a chicken breast awaiting her at an assigned table. Yes that’s right, a reserved seat for a dog—outrageously adorable! I also had the police called on me because a woman was convinced I stole her dog. When her dog was found it looked about as similar to the pup I was walking as a comparison of Brad Pitt and Chris Christie. I suggested new glasses, and not tying her dog up unattended outside a grocery store again. We have an array of stories, sadly most involve the strange items that the pooches pass. Yuck!”

Do you have any street snackers? Anything in particular that you have to watch out for on the NYC streets?
“We don’t have too many street snackers. Those who snack will take just about anything. Peach pits, napkins with pizza residue, leaves, you name it. The worst are places located near fast food chicken restaurants. Those bones people toss on the ground are like the Holy Grail to them.”

Do all of your dogs get along?
“Yes, all the dogs do get along. We do not accept aggressive dogs. All of our pups are more likely to lick each other to death than attack.”

Amy Lombard

Ellen Politis, Midtown East.

Amy Lombard

What are some tricks of the trade in handling so many dogs?
“Dogs are pack animals. Once you establish that you are head of the pack the rest will fall in line.”

What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you while walking the dogs?
“Actually two things. One client decided she felt sorry for her lab being “crated” every day and thought that the reason she chewed her toys was frustration in being crated. So she left her free to roam. She left for work at 8am and I would be there at 11am. What could go wrong? I arrived to a room filled with a cloud-like substance. When I called the dogs name she popped up through the foam so proud of herself—she had unstuffed their sectional sofa.

One day a dog was pooping and I saw a red string hanging down from her rear which she was having trouble passing. I decided to help her before rushing her to the vet. After it was removed I called the owner and asked her if she owned red thong underwear. She was a little taken aback only to tell me she did but lost them probably in the laundry. I told her I just found them!”

Do all of your dogs get along?
“Dogs don’t always get along at first, especially if they live in the same building. Usually they have been mortal enemies and now you are trying to walk them together. Again, it’s a matter of leadership and establishing who is boss. Inevitably they wind up being friends.”

Amy Lombard

Nicole Zaleski, Staten Island.

Amy Lombard

What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you while walking the dogs?
“I can clear a sidewalk no matter how big or small the dog is. People run in the street to go around dogs. Otherwise, there is the regular squirrel and bird chasing or dogs trying to chase trucks or mailmen. You have to keep in control. The dog must know you are the alpha in his pack!

Do you have any street snackers? Anything in particular that you have to watch out for on the NYC streets?
“I have to look out for poop from walkers that don’t scoop and other dogs that owners let run up to us like it’s not a big deal. All dogs should be leashed at all times, unless it is a supervised dog park. We must always look out for stuff on the ground they can eat. Some of my dogs will try to eat anything, even weeds. One of the biggest problems is chicken bones, strewn about.”

How do people react when they see you on the street? Do you stop and let people pet the dogs?
“When people ask about the dogs I tell them I am a pet sitter, and then I get asked a lot of questions about what I do. I never let anyone on the street or even someone I know pet my dog-walking client. When I have the dog in my care, I am the only one who touches the dog because I cannot say how the dog will react or the person. I am responsible to keep the dogs safe by all counts, and keeping them away from strangers is the safest way.”

(Via: Feature Shoot)

Woofstock 2013 Photo Recap

9 Jun

The Hydant crew posing for a group shot to kick off  Woofstock 2013 at St. James “Bark” Park in support of the K9 Rescue Me Walk-A-Thon.

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Logan, Nutters & Muffin were excited to meet all the other dogs.

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Logan approved of the branding!

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Muffin & Nutters had a great time hanging out in the park!

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We had lots of visitors come over to meet the crew, thanks to everyone who stopped by!

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Cute little Tank!

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Boost me up!

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Surprise visit!

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Shout out to BOB – Big on Beagles!

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Shopping overload!

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Dobie crew!

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Hold on a minute, you look like me!

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Cutest couple at Woofstock – Lola & Katie meeting Logan

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Dogs looking fresh in their brand new collars!

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We also had a lot of visitors (young & old) who got a chance to get up close and personal with the crew!

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And a surprise visit from Theo, it was great to see him out enjoying Woofstock!

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Snuggle time!

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Logan put on an impromptu performance, all the kids were excited to meet him.

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The big finale – catching the toy out of mid air! Everyone was trying to catch a photo of Logan in action!

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Logan wanted to do a little shopping before we left.

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Do you like my new hat?

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Muffin waving bye to everyone, see you again next year!

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PUGGIN’ ALONG @ Cosmopawlitan Pet Boutique & Spa

13 Jul

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