Someone once said, “When I come back, I want to be a dog on the Palos Verdes Peninsula."
There is an evolving, but inconspicuous subculture of professional dog pamperers working on the hill. They offer the typical dog walking services, helping out elderly owners and office workers.
But, these 21st century dog walkers also offer services above and beyond. Think human and animal behavior modification, overnight pet setting, trail hiking and even hospice services for when a dog is on its last legs.
Doggie day care professionals such as Palos Verdes' Judy Clark, Samantha Miller and Annie Jones are gaining notoriety for becoming experts on all things pertaining to dogs.
Palos Verdes Estates resident Judy Clark is not only a dog walker extraordinaire, she also runs “Judy’s Dog Care.”
She said she offers overnight pet sitting, preferring to pal up with a client’s dog in their own home as opposed to bringing them into hers. Alleviating stress makes the pet more susceptible to learning polite behaviors.
Don’t tell anyone, but if the fur person is used to sleeping with their owners, Clark might just curl up next to Fido, too.
Clark also volunteers for different animal rescue agencies. She cut her teeth on dog husbandry years ago when working at her specialty to socialize dogs who were destined to be euthanized because they were unadoptable.
“The most rewarding thing is to me is knowing I’m making a difference with the animal’s behavior,” said Clark, who employs her 15-year-old son Tyler as a dog walker. “The dogs are better behaved, happier and the owners are happier, too.”
A self taught expert, Clark said she’s read just about every dog training book and viewed every video she could find and began applying the best techniques.
The mother of three signed up with Rover, a national dog walking registry.
Rover takes a small percentage of the dog walker’s earnings, tracks how long and how far the dog is walked, and even when and where the dog does his daily business.
The Rover app has strict safety requirements and does background checks on the client, dog walker and the pet.
Dog walker Samantha Miller, takes her dogs on what she calls “pack hikes.”
On any given day she may be seen with big floppy Labradoodles, friendly pit bulls, feathery Afghans, German shepherds, golden doodles, Chihuahuas and terrier mixes along PV’s scenic trails.
“I dog walk seven days a week and lately my work schedule has been 12-hour shifts,” said Miller who may also have play dates with her furry pals at local dog parks. “I also do pet sitting and have two girls who do overnight stays at client’s houses.”
Like Clark, Miller’s expertise in rescue has moved her into offering corrective behavioral training, too.
Clark and Miller agree, not everyone can do a dog walker’s job. It’s hard work, and handlers need to be able to read body language and recognize aggressive behaviors.
Annie Jones of “Annie the Pet Nanny” said Palos Verdes is her dog walking hub, also.
Currently, she is weeks away from realizing her dream of opening an all-round dog facility in Harbor City. Besides dog walking, she will offer doggie day care, grooming, and cage free boarding, nail trimming, teaching and animal hospice.
Prices aren’t cheap, but Peninsula resident aren’t afraid to pay for such personal, loving care.
Going rates for dog walking on the Peninsula start at about $25 for a long, brisk walk or romp in the dog park. Overnight stays in client homes with the pet run about $80 and includes such services as feeding, taking photos, walking and giving medications.
Rancho Palos Verdes client Judy Mitchell said hiring Clark to spend the night with her two dogs made her and her husband feel more comfortable knowing she was a behaviorist, and able to give the proper medicine to her cancer surviving dog.
“We were very confident in her abilities,” Mitchell said. “She sent lots of photos while we were gone, and we were only gone for 24 hours. We’re a little possessive of our dogs.
"Come to think of it, our children didn’t get this much attention.”
Need help with your pooch?
For Judy Clark, visit her website at judysdogcare.com, Samantha Miller at 310-902-9328 or Annie Jones at 310-245-1758.