OFF THE LEASH

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Photos By Mark Hines Photography

Photos By Mark Hines Photography

Q & A with the Ultimate Pet Nanny

If they made superheros in the form of dog walkers, the Ultimate Pet Nanny would be your local hero. AKA Leslie Groehler grew up in Whitefish Bay and was the "No.1 babysitter in the Bay" by the time she was in highschool.

So it was only natural for her to go from babysitting kids and being a nanny to walking and caring for dogs. In 2011, Leslie's full-time nanny family got a dog. "Then the neighbor got a dog...," says Groehler," and I started meeting people at the dog park so I made a business card. Six years later, I am walking a pack of 6-12 dogs (Monday thru Friday) and it's been most weekends this summer. I call it the party van! "

Why the "party" van?

I call it the Party Van because everyday is a party for the dogs. We load up 10-12 of their best friends and go to a park for 2 hours.

Why dogs?

I prefer caring for dogs at this point in my career. Dogs don't talk back. Ha ha. They are eager to learn and they want to please me. I've taken a lot of what I've learned as a kid nanny for the last 25 years and applied to dogs. My pack has rules and boundaries. They get positive reinforcement when they do good things like hugs and kisses. I build trust with my dogs and that's why they respect me and listen.

How do people react when they see you walking 10-12 dogs at a time?

When people see me with so many dogs they are usually impressed. First, how well they are all behaved and second, how they stay with me. If I stop, they stop. Where ever I go the pack follows. People often call me the "Pied Piper." I hear "someone should get this on video!" To me it's just my everyday.

What are the pros and cons?

The pros of having a pack is that we are a unit. The dogs build bonds and friendships with each other. In some cases I've had dogs literally grow up together. Cons would be people who have a negative attitude about one person walking so many dogs. Also, picking up many many piles of poop everyday because it can take up to 1.5 hrs to pick up and 1.5 hrs to drop off all the dogs at their homes.

Words of wisdom..?

I truly believe thatbuilding trust and respect are the most important factors in walking so many dogs. My pack knows I am the Alpha and the leader. I also don't think just anyone can walk so many dogs off-leash in an unfenced park. In some ways I feel like it's a gift.

The biggest trick I've learned is that dogs are pack animals and they want to stick together. I'm constantly praising and thanking the dogs for their good behavior.


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