BDWS & Jamie Shanks
Thanks for visiting my website. I’ve been a pro dog walker since 2010. I’m walking dogs at the beach at Boden Boo alongside other Erskine dog walkers, and if you walk dogs there too then, most likely we’ve met and had a chat. Anyway, let me tell you a bit about my biz and how it started…
I was at Reid Kerr college, learning computers. I loved it! It was the 90’s, Oasis were battling against Blur to top the charts, I discovered I had a brain after years of disinterest at school, and I was doing well. Then one day I quit and became a carer for a family member.
I sat on the train from Bishopton to Paisley and watched the trees fly by as an unemployed man. It had taken the last three months for me to get to the stage where the job centre was ready to sign me off after letting them know I wanted to be a self-employed dog walker and had a business idea called “Bishopton dog walking services”. The HMRC told me I needed to ‘sign off’ and then register my business to get working tax credits while the jobcentre told me I needed to register my business first and then ‘sign off’! It had been six months since I’d been made unemployed when I arrived at the job centre for the very last time! An hour later and after sorting out some forms, I sat back on the train and watched the same scenery go by. The same trees, the same buildings, the same clear blue sky, yet my whole world had changed. I was now, and suddenly self-employed and there was a future for me beckoning, good or bad!
Being my own boss and owning my very own business felt amazing, it was empowering, but there was a significant problem – I had no dogs to walk, no transport, was making no money, had no money to invest in my business and not to mention the three other established dog walking businesses strutting their stuff in my area! I had to learn how to be a dog walker on my own and let people know that Bishopton dog walking services existed, was ready to roll and convince people to choose me over the others, but how?
Well, I started by making all my leaflets on the computer, printing them out and then posting them through every single door in Bishopton. I then saved up and got business cards made. With time on my hands and no other options I even learnt how to make a website! With no car I borrowed a bike from my brother so I could cycle to any dogs I needed to walk. I posted all the leaflets I made through every single home in Bishopton and built my website, weeks passed, but I never received a single phone call – things became pretty desperate. Then one day the phone rang with someone asking me to walk their dog. They were from Renfrew, and their dog was a show cocker spaniel named Jay! I was now a professional!!
As summer turned to autumn and I found more dogs to walk and pets to care for I managed to get hold of a 23-year-old Volvo estate. It was a very nice looking car that came with a massive boot and all the toys including heated seats which were a godsend for the winter of 2010. Sadly the ownership of that car came at a price. Because I never drove far, I didn’t think that owning a car (especially a v6) would be too expensive, but it was, and in the end and with many repair bills I had to let it go.
Slowly but surely a foundation was being laid and slowly I began to get known, became better at making my website and promoting the business, and one year after I started I began to blog about my pet care. In 2012 I bought a white 2004 Citroen Berlingo and kitted it out for real dog walking.
After the owners of some dogs I walked in Renfrew no longer required a dog walker, and I got some new dogs in Bishopton I decided to let Renfrew go and concentrate more on Bishopton and Erskine. It was such a tough choice, but I knew that eventually I would either have to choose Bishopton & Erskine or Renfrew and that there would come the point where I couldn’t do both. A black German Shepherd puppy named Skye from Bishopton sealed the deal!
I made my first dog walking video this month. Called “Born to Run”.
In October 2012 I was now established and had several group walks a day. To improve my skills as a dog walker, I arranged with a Paisley vet a first aid course for myself and other local Renfrewshire dog walkers!
For years my own dog Ruby would carry the first aid kits in her backpack.
As I blogged more, I became more interested in photography and borrowed my uncle’s old film camera which taught me how a camera works.
In late 2013 I bought my very first DSLR camera and began blogging using that instead of my pocket camera.
I began adding dog food recipes to my website and it really took off when a guide on how to make liver cake went viral. By 2014 I was full. I didn’t realise it till one day I found I had more dogs to walk than I could walk. So I hired a good friend of mine named Sheena, and she became my helper until 2015 when she moved to Wales with her own dog, Marley.
At the end of 2014 I got a new puppy named Flo: a liver and white English Springer Spaniel.
Exactly five years after starting my business I bought a brand new Berlingo van after my old one died. It has fitted cages and is ideal to transport dogs safely. My first ever new car and it was just a fantastic feeling being accepted for finance as I’ve never even tried to get finance for a vehicle before.
A few months later I was sitting at home for a quick lunch (as it always is) when the phone rang. It was a journalist named Antonella Lazzeri working for The Sun newspaper, and she was writing an article about dog food vs human food and wanted my advice. So feeling somewhat startled and with half a pie hanging out my mouth I answered her questions.
I was out walking the dogs when the phone rang. It’s the editor of Country Walking Magazine. He explains that he is working on a 24-page feature article about hiking with your dog and would like my input, so I agree. He sends me many pre written articles on different subjects and I add my edits, adding lots of stuff and giving my opinions. It was fun. When I read what he sent I thought, “I can actually offer some real input here”. I was amazed at how many of my edits he used.
I made my second dog walking compilation video that you can see here:
On February of 2019 I brought Brodie home. He was just 7 weeks and is a lilac Bordier Collie and a very good boy.
My business turned 10 years old on May 10th this year. It was during lockdown but I continued to work with the support of my amazing clients and to celebrate my 10 years we had most of our walks at Finlaystone Country Estate.
After 11 years of dog walking, the dogs (most have been with me since the start) were getting old, retiring or crossing the rainbow bridge and a transition of new pups joining began. Here’s a video of the new young dogs getting walked alongside the old crew.
I rehomed Daisy, a 15-month old Doberman after the owners gave her back to the breeder. She is intelligent and super friendly with dogs and people and doing brilliantly.
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