Dave Reed of Elmhurst has always been an active guy. So when choosing a family pet for himself and his wife, they decided on a cattle dog named Bailey. Since that breed needs lots of exercise, Reed and Bailey found themselves on long walks through the neighborhood. During this time, Reed often heard dogs barking in their backyards, prompting him to want to do more. He also wanted to educate people on treating their animals properly.
"There's more to having a dog than letting it hang out in the backyard," Reed said.
He started doing research on what dog walkers were doing in the city and believed that same service was needed in the suburbs. He put his ideas in motion with the website Davespetproject.com. But it was his visibility throughout the neighborhood that really got things going for his business.
It wasn't long before residents noticed Reed walking Bailey and a few clients under the name Dave's Pet Project and began to ask him if he was walking dogs for a living. Reed said many of these dog owners already had services, but they found added value in hiring a local man to do the same job.
"When people see me walking down the street with three or four dogs, they are going to think 'That's pretty hip; that's a good way to make a living,'" he said.
Reed has a lot of time to ponder life while walking dogs. However, he does his best to stay focused and assume the alpha role. He likes to think of the dogs as lucky participants on the walks, and he commands respect from them while they're out and about. He says this theory keeps the dogs well-behaved on the walks.
Reed admits he's not formally trained in the art of dog walking, but he believes he's picked up lots of techniques along the way.
"If you have a keen instinct, pay attention to details and have a love for dogs, it teaches you every day about yourself," Reed said.