This week marks OMD’s 10th anniversary. Ten years ago I returned to work from a week-long vacation, sat at my desk, realized I hated my job (mostly due to having the meanest, most passive aggressive boss on the planet), and began what was almost a panic attack. The feeling was so sickening that in that moment, with zero planning, I typed a resignation letter and distributed it to the horrible boss and HR. Those sick and desperate feelings subsided, and were replaced with fear, uncertainty, excitement and glee. Not only was I leaving the ad business, I was about to step out on my own and fulfill a dream of working with dogs. At the time, one of my best friends at work (and in life) assured me with these words, “It’ll be ok. When people take a giant leap like this, it just always works out. You’ll do great.” It was so reassuring, not because of what he said, but because someone actually believed I could do it.
Two weeks later, I was a professional dog walker, with, as my mother called it, “a little website” and everything. A lot of people thought this was a hobby and that I would likely take on another job, or go back into advertising after a hiatus. But I knew there was no looking back. This was Plan A, B and C.
With the exception of a few wonderful friends I’d made, the industry I worked in before didn’t teach me the meaning of life and never showed me the good, generous side of humanity. It’s so difficult to articulate, but when you take care of people’s dogs for a living, you grow a relationship with them (if you’re doing it right). The generosity and compassion my clients have shown me is overwhelming, the meals they’ve shared with me have been scrumptious, and on some busy or freezing cold days, they’ve carried me through. I’m very lucky.
I’ve been exposed to an entire community of dog people. Not just people who have dogs and love them, but people who rally for dogs in one way or another. Sometimes we form search parties to look for the missing dogs of people we don’t even know, we transport shelter dogs great distances by organizing a convoy of drivers, we bait live traps and watch them all day and night hoping to catch a scared dog who’s on the run. I could go on. This community of selfless people continues to move and inspire me and I’m so proud to be a part of it.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the dogs. Like I say on my website, they’re always teaching me. Between lessons, they’re letting me smoosh their faces and pluck their tufts. I feed off of their happiness and excitement when we reach fun, new destinations. And on days and weeks when energy is low or life is stressful, they don’t mind if the walks are more utilitarian rather than awe-inspiring. As much as I love a vacation, and time off, that first day back is the best – they’re extra enthusiastic when I come thought the door and I realize how much I missed them. I’m leaving it at that – there isn’t room for the sad part of the job in this post.
I’m extremely proud of oh my dog! and the reputation that I’ve built. I love being part of a network of awesome, like-minded dog walkers I can call on when I need a hand, or just someone to nerd out with over a glass of wine. In the last couple of years I’ve expanded OMD to include nutrition services for dogs; something I've wanted to do forever, that brings me more satisfaction and joy than you can imagine. “Proud” doesn’t even cut it.
And if it wasn’t for this little guy, I might still be sitting behind a desk. Thanks, Joey!