Workers On Wheels: Dog Walking by Bike by Erin Hill

Another in our occasional series proving that bikes aren't just for commuting!

Erin Hill, with bike-loving pooches Scandal and Jurgen. Photo by Melissa McConnell.
A year ago I quit a stressful job downtown and started a dog-walking service called Ruff-Guides. My twist on the business is that I am the "Biking Dog Walker." I arrive at my clients' houses by bicycle, leash the pooch up, and walk to the nearest park, sometimes picking up another dog or two on the way. I simply lock my bike outside the house and go. No cars or trucks are involved, and I'm never delayed looking for a parking spot.

Biking from my house in the Outer Richmond, I work mostly up and down Lake Street. My bike is a traveling dog-walking office-using panniers, I'm able to transport everything I might need during my workday, including treats, bags, leashes, and water.

Rainy, wintertime walking is always a bit of a challenge. I have a winter bike, set up with heavy-duty fenders, and lights for rides home in the dark. Rain gear keeps me fairly dry when biking and walking. Cleaning the dogs off after a muddy walk is another story, so I'm inevitably a mess at the end of those days, but it's all worth it!

My dog walker friends are amazed that I haven't broken down and bought a truck yet, but I'm more than happy with my bike. I don't have to worry about car insurance, gas, and parking tickets. Without the added costs of owning a car, I save so much money that I don't have to walk as many dogs as other people.

Biking has made my job easier and more enjoyable for me, and my clients really appreciate the fact that their buddies get more exercise and don't have to ride in a truck with a bunch of other dogs. We all win!