Published: 05 December 2016

Students on our First Aid for Dogs course come from a range of backgrounds and with a variety of reasons for wanting to learn this essential skill. Here we meet Fiona Russell, who's a dog walker from London.

Name: Fiona Russell

Lives: Stockwell, South London

What do you do? Dog walker at Larks In The Parks Dog Walking & Pet Care Services, and dog owner

How long have you been a dog walker? Around 10 months

What made you want to become an dog walker? I adore dogs and love walking; I was looking for a new career direction, and this seemed the obvious choice!

Have you always been an dog walker? If not, what did you do beforehand? I spent many years managing support services for homeless people and refugees.

What’s your favourite part of your job? For me, there is nothing better than seeing dogs enjoy themselves; knowing that I am helping them to be stimulated and exercised makes me very happy. I know how hard it is to leave your dog when you go out to work every day, and so it gives me great satisfaction to know that I am reassuring the owner as well caring for their beloved pet.

How do you keep your skills up to date? Do you have any favourite websites that you use? I use a variety of sources to update my skills and knowledge, taking information and tips from websites such as Blue Cross and the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, while also attending dog behaviour seminars as frequently as possible.

Why did you think learning first aid for dogs was important to you? It is a great responsibility to have someone's dog entrusted to you, and no matter how careful and caring you are, accidents can still happen. I now feel confident that I can cope with an emergency situation until professional help is available. This gives me peace of mind and reassures my clients that I offer the best possible care to their beloved pet. Of course I also now feel much more better equipped to help my own dog if an accident befalls him.

What was the most valuable piece of information your gained from the first aid for dogs course? Everything on the course was immensely valuable, but learning the principles of DRAB, practising CPR and dealing with choking felt particularly useful.

What qualities do you think are important in a dog walker? Patience, reliability and tons of energy. These are important for the relationship with your human as well as canine clients!

Have you learnt anything surprising about dogs from working with them? I am constantly amazed and delighted by the dogs I work with. For example by how quickly they pick up basic agility moves such as jumping over logs in the park; this provides mental as well as physical exercise, as the dogs love to learn new tricks and skills.

What’s your top tip for caring for dogs? Remember that they are all individuals, take time to get to know them as they get to know you.

Have you had an amusing experiences in your work as as dog walker? It is always fun for watch my mini schnauzer trying to keep up with my client's Hungarian vizsla!

Which dog would you most like to walk or which famous person’s dog would you most like to walk? I would love to take Novak Djokovik's poodles for a walk with my mini schnauzer on Wimbledon Common, while he is playing on Centre Court.

Fiona is a dog walker at Larks In The Parks Dog Walking & Pet Care Services, as well as being a dog owner. You can find out more about Larks in the Parks here.

If you'd like to learn the First Aid for Dogs skills that Fiona finds so invaluable, check out our course details here.


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