Sarah Warford runs 60 – 80km a week and works with a cross trainer three times a week. She isn’t training for a marathon or a fitness competition, Sarah is working.
This summer, she started a unique new dog care service called DogRunnin. The service is exactly what it sounds like – Sarah runs with her canine clients in private and semi-private sessions. Running, rather than walking, helps a dog maximize their fitness time so they can lose weight, burn off energy and have fun.
“Each dog is a little different,” Sarah says. Sessions are tailored to each individual dog, taking age, experience, and a number of other factors into consideration.
We hear a lot of business start-up stories while travelling around the province, but DogRunnin really had me excited. As Sarah and I chatted, she told me about how she came up with such a unique business idea and turned her hobby into a career.
“It was kind of an accident,” Sarah says. Sarah grew up with dogs and adopted her current pup, Pippy, a year and a half ago. As an avid runner, it felt natural to run with her dog. “We would meet other dog owners on our runs, and people started asking me if I would run with their dogs, too!”
In July 2013, Sarah officially launched DogRunnin. “I get athletes who have injuries and new dog owners who are runners but who don’t know how to teach their dog how to run on leash. I also have a number of clients who are pregnant and who have reached a point in their pregnancy where running has become more challenging, and new moms.”
She also has a number of clients who have a busy schedule, and are looking for opportunities for their dogs to get more from their outdoor time.
Each run lasts 40 minutes to an hour depending on the age and fitness level of the dog. And her four legged running mates improve over time. “I have one dog, Finnegan, who I started working with when he was just a puppy. When we started we were running 1-3 km and now we run 5-7 km each session!”
As a dog owner myself, and as someone who runs with my pup, I was keen to chat with Sarah about the benefits of running a dog.
“The healthier the dog, the cheaper the vet bills”, Sarah says, ”Taking a proactive approach to health is just as important for pets as it is for people.”
But what about the impact on Sarah’s life?
“I eat more, I sleep more. The body adjusts quickly, and this has become my new normal, but I take really good care of myself and make sure to eat well, work with a cross trainer and go for massage therapy,” she says.
Sarah also makes sure to take time for herself, reserving Friday night and Saturday for herself (although she has made exceptions for clients if there is an emergency situation).
Since starting in July, Sarah’s client base has been growing quickly and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Sarah says the key to finding small business success is learning to get over yourself. At first, she was a little embarrassed announcing her new profession to friends. “I have 8 years post-secondary education, and I thought people would see me as a glorified dog walker.”
But Sarah has long since abandoned those insecurities, raving about time spent outside, doing what she loves, and getting dog kisses at the end of every run. She says that she gets immediate gratification working with clients and their four legged friends.
“I didn’t think that owning a business would be so much fun! I love what I do and now I’m like YES! This is what I do!”
“I am making a difference in my clients’ lives. It is so rewarding to hear from someone that because of DogRunnin they had a free hour to spend with their spouse, read a book, or have a quiet house for an important conference call.
Want to give DogRunnin a try? Sarah currently takes clients throughout HRM and has a holiday discount on right now, a great idea for a pet lover, or even as a gift to yourself. As Sarah says, “A healthy dog is a tired dog and a tired dog is a happy owner.”
DogRunnin can be purchased in packs of 10/15/20, by the week, month, or on an ongoing basis. She also keeps a blog with helpful tips on trails and shops for pets in HRM. Check it out on her website at: http://dogrunnin.com/
Find Local Gift Ideas From DogRunnin, and more great gift ideas from independent Nova Scotia businesses on the 2013 Local Wishlist.