Jake and Sid were checking out the new girl. Jake was taken with her reddish hair and lively personality. She obviously thought he was cute, too, and gave him a polite swish of her tail.
Sid became jealous and kept trying to give her an affectionate sniff while tugging at his leash. Jolie could be such a tease.
“Let’s change places,” Barbara Ruccio said to her partner Pat Wrisley, who was now wrestling to balance two good-sized hound types vying for the attention of the Vizsla vixen.
The canines were out for their daily constitutionals at The Paddocks in Saratoga Springs with the professional dog walkers of Muttley Crew pet-sitting service.
The two women provide companionship and exercise for a variety of clients, mostly of the canine persuasion. Their “pawlosophy?” To dote on doggies and give them the same unconditional love their owners would give them.
“People who work all day usually want you to come in during the middle of the day and get (the dogs) out so they can exercise and poop and pee and do the dog thing,” Ruccio said.
Muttley Crew owner Wrisley, in business for six years, said she has more than 350 families who engage her dog services of walking and pet-sitting. Many clients live in her hometown of Clifton Park, but she is trying to add clients up the Northway and now reaches as far north as Wilton.
Burnt Hills resident Kristi LaValley made a career change after 17 years as a legal assistant to start Puppy Dog Tales in 2008, a firm that offers the same services as Wrisley and Ruccio but also photographs dogs at a couple of area shelters to help strays get adopted.
She did an internship at Best Friends, an “amazing” animal rescue sanctuary in Angels Canon, Utah, for six months and then became a certified dog trainer.
“It pretty much changed my life. I had to work with animals,” LaValley said.
Both businesses seem to be finding plenty of clients in the Saratoga Springs region who want their dogs to get out and about and have interaction in their absence.
Wrisley said she puts as much as a hundred miles a day on her car driving to her canine customers from her home in Clifton Park to about Exit 16 of the Northway.
That translates to about seven miles a day on foot walking others’ pooches.
Owners run the gamut of second-shift warehouse workers to busy professionals putting in long hours at the office. They want to be sure their beloved pets get plenty of mental physical stimulation.
LaValley, in particular, said she has a German short-haired pointer who really needs to be put through her paces.
“Her family actually wants me to run her in the woods because just being on a leash isn’t enough for her,” she said.
Both Puppy Tales and Muttley Crew conduct in-home consultations to ensure compatibility between client and dog walker.
As part of their fee of $16 per half hour, Wrisley and Ruccio clean the dog’s bowls, fill them with fresh water and always leave a treat to end on a good note.
Ruccio, 68, would like to eventually see the business expand to where she and Wrisley take care of marketing and scheduling and hire others to walk the dogs.
To these professional dog walkers, the most important prerequisite for the job is a love of dogs and a willingness to become attached to them and their families.
“I love it. I could be in a bad mood and as soon as I meet my doggy clients, they’re happy to see me — and I’m just as happy to see them. It sure beats sitting in a desk like I used to,” LaValley said.