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Dog itching for a walk?

Turns, out there are professionals for that

By Chris Lewis | Vol. 32 No. 9 (May 15 2019)

Only weeks shy of her business’ one-year milestone, Tails & Trails owner Jillian Hurd said the fledgling enterprise has seen plenty of success in the region.

Tails & Trails dubs itself as the province’s first professional dog-walking company, providing services to dog owners in Conception Bay South, Paradise, Mount Pearl, and Portugal Cove. In June, the company will celebrate an entire year of business, and Hurd could not be happier about it.

Hurd said she has been surrounded by animals pretty much her entire life. With a certified pet breeder mother and a veterinarian father, it was almost inevitable that Hurd would take a liking to the furry, four-legged friends that she, as well as her parents, were getting to interact with on a daily basis.

With this background, Hurd fits nearly seamlessly into the role she’s created for herself by starting up Tails & Trails in June of 2018.

Although her love for animals is clear, her formal education lies in the realm of epidemiology. Hurd explained she’s held a number of jobs in the animal industry, but it was her job as a research assistant at Memorial University (MUN) that really taught her the benefits of pursuing a passion.
“It was human healthcare – primary healthcare – and that just wasn’t my cup of tea honestly. There were no animals around, and I was stuck in a cubicle,” Hurd said. “To this day, I still say the best thing that ever happened to me was when a pigeon landed on my windowsill. I was so excited, and didn’t want anyone to move in case the pigeon flew away … That was kind of an eye-opener for me. I was clearly not in the right place.”

Now, although Tails & Trails does not fall under the jurisdiction of epidemiology, Hurd says she’s much happier with her current endeavour compared to the work she was doing.

“After leaving MUN, I launched Tails and Trails, and it’s continued to grow since then,” Hurd said. “Initially, it was just me, and now I’ve hired on two other girls, too. It’s such a big service area – I’m mainly in CBS and Paradise, but we also have a number of clients in towards Torbay and other areas, so we’re definitely seeing the business grow, for sure.”

Tails & Trails’ main focus is on dog-walking. Hurd said the difference between a professional and a regular dog walker lies in the qualifications, which can do wonders to boost the experience for not only the dog, but the dog’s owner as well.

Although the industry has taken off in recent years in other parts of the world, the professional dog walking scene has yet to gain as much traction in this province. Currently, Tails & Trails is the only business of its kind in Newfoundland, and Hurd said things are off to a solid start.

“There’s certainly lots of people who would walk your dog, but besides Tails & Trails, there’s no first-aid certified business to do it. For myself, I would never trust a stranger to walk my dog. I’d want to make sure they knew what to do if anything happened, for example, and I think a lot of pet owners feel the same way,” Hurd explained. “The main thing for me is that everyone on our team is insured and bonded, and first-aid certified. Those are our bottom-line requirements. We do continued training and education too. My main concern is that we keep up on our training, and making sure we know what we’re doing. These are people’s babies, after all.”

In order to get over this initial stage of being strangers, pet owners get a meet-and-greet session with Tails & Trails’ walkers in order to establish a level of understanding, ensuring the pet owners that it is, in fact, a professional that’s about to take their dog for a walk.

Whether it’s sunny, rainy, foggy, or anything in between, Hurd said they are not opposed to bundling up in layers to take your dog out for a mid-winter stroll if that’s what the situation calls for.

It’s not just the walk that Tails & Trails offers, however. At the end of each walk, pet owners are gifted with a journal entry, written from the perspective of their pets, that details the events of the day with some added photos for further documentation.

Although Hurd said she is pleased with the outcome of Tails & Trails so far, she is not content to stop here. She hopes to see the business expand across the province in time, and perhaps kickstart what could become an established business venture for animal lovers in the province.

“I’ve been around animals literally my entire life. It would hardly make sense for me to be doing anything other than this. I love it,” Hurd said.

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