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DogsFeature

Women at Work with Dogs on the Run

Laura Peppas

When Carolyn Kidd and Barb Grundy tell people they went from working as senior public servants to running a full-time dog-walking business, they are often surprised at the response they get.

“People actually say ‘wow, that’s amazing’ – they are very supportive,” Carolyn says.

It turns out it was one of the best ventures they could have asked for: since the two friends and former colleagues launched Dogs on the Run in August, the dog-walking, sitting and training business has already grown to the point where they are fully booked almost every day.

Dogs_on_the_run

Dog lovers and owners of Dogs on the Run, Carolyn Kidd and Barb Grundy.

 

“I guess it shows Canberra is definitely a city of dog lovers,” says Barb.

“We’re averaging about eight walks a day; and it’s because these people are so devoted to their dogs. The reasons why people contact us are so varied – we have an older couple who can’t walk but have two dogs, and they love them so much. Other people may have temporary injuries, or are away for work. Every possible thing you can think of, people are calling.”

Barb, who has a background in consulting and executive coaching, says the seed for the business was planted about a year ago, when she and Carolyn caught up for lunch.

“Carolyn had recently left her public service job, and the discussion turned to our mutual passion for all things canine,” says Barb.

“We started to dream about how great it would be to be able to spend our days with dogs and earn a bit of money at the same time.”

Not long after their chat Carolyn – never one to let the grass grow – had a business plan, a marketing strategy, an ABN and a brand new business name.

“We were lucky enough to engage the interest of the then Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, who officially launched Dogs on the Run in early September last year,” says Barb.

“At the time, neither of us really had any idea of how much work we’d have. I was still consulting and thought I’d have time to do that part time but the business went absolutely gangbusters, so I decided to take the leap to running the business full time.”

Carolyn and Barb say they approached the Canberra Business Council to get their business up and running.

“We quickly found a niche for ourselves that not only needed to be filled, but that was also entirely consistent with our philosophy and what we wanted for our business,” says Barb.

Both women say they have always loved dogs, and walk, train or sit just about every breed from pint-sized silky terriers to German shepherds.

Carolyn in particular has a background in handling dogs with severe stress issues from volunteering at Domestic Animal Services, and says there is often a “process” in gaining a dog’s trust.

“Basically at first I won’t make eye contact, I’ll go in very slowly, and I often spend about 10 or 15 minutes backing into the kennel, sitting quietly with my head dropped,” she says.

“It doesn’t always work but it’s really satisfying when the dog will come to you and you’re able to take them for a walk or even a cuddle and a hug. You don’t know where those dogs have come from; some of these dogs have gone through awful things and we’re just here to give them 30 minutes of love and attention.”

While Barb says her new career is a “long shot” from where she thought she’d be, she couldn’t be happier.

“I was thinking the other day I might have been in senates estimates hearings or in the office typing away, and here I am walking up Mt Ainslie, breathing in the fresh air doing something I love,” she says.

“You’re being trusted by people who let you into their homes and give you the keys to their hearts and often their puppies are like their kids. It’s a very special thing.”

For more information visit the Dogs on the Run website.

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Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author

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