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Montreal pet owners say dog walkers essential service amid pandemic

Getting your dog walked by a professional is not just a great investment in your animal's health, but a service many pet owners find essential.
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WATCH: Many Montrealers don't have a lot of reasons to leave the house these days, which is great news for domestic animals who get to spend more time than ever with their owners. But what if your job is to walk other people's pets? As Benson Cook reports, while business has taken a hit, one master dog walker says in a world where we're all socializing less, his work is more important now than ever – Jan 21, 2021

There are probably easier ways to walk anywhere from four to seven dogs at a time than while riding a bicycle, sometimes through freezing cold and snow, around Montreal’s hilly Plateau Mont-Royal borough.

But Pierre Yves Thériault, a professional dog walker based in the area, says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s extremely hard, physically, but the dogs love it, because they can run, which they can’t do on foot,” he explained.

A dog’s natural speed is over twice as fast as the average human’s walking speed, he said.

Read more: Coronavirus: Montreal groomer, pet owners up in arms over province’s COVID-19 closures

It’s just one reason why getting your dog walked by a professional is not just a great investment in your animal’s health, but a service many pet owners find essential.

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“You have to make a name, because people will not leave their babies with just anybody,” he said. “So, the toughest part of this business is building a clientele.”

Build a clientele, he has, and a devoted one: Audrey Cobrin told Global News her two dogs rely on their weekly walk with Pierre Yves and five other dogs as a part of their weekly routine.

“Well, obviously, when they go with Pierre Yves they go with their little gang and they’re more or less the same dog, so it’s like they’re a group of friends,” she said in an interview.

A few streets away, Kevin Browne agreed. Working from home since the pandemic began, he added that dog walkers can be helpful ways to balance your time, especially with larger dogs that need a lot of exercise to stay fit.

“Beyond the two hours to four hours that Pierre Yves has Draco out on his runs, I’m also taking him for an hour to two hours, so all of that cumulatively is what the dog needs, to stay healthy and active,” he said.

Read more: ‘Pandemic puppies’ bring joy, companionship to Montreal families amid pandemic

While his business has taken a bit of a hit since the pandemic began nearly a year ago, Thériault says he expects it to eventually pick up again, especially since so many people have welcomed dogs into their families for the first time while spending so much time at home.

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In fact, he says, it’s those pets who have never known a world where the whole family isn’t spending every waking hour in the house that will need the socialization and exposure to the outside world the most.

“When you go back to work, it’s going to be hell in the house if you leave him alone and you never have before,” he said.

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