When I grow up I want a job like David Boals. I actually wouldn't mind Bruno Staub's either.
David and his wife, photo agent Chris Boals, have been friends of mine for years so, don't you know, Mrs.Sizzle's ears perked up when she heard that David started running with a pack of dogs. Even better, one of Chris' photographers, Bruno Staub, was up for following David one day and the result speaks for itself. I had to ask David how he got into his new career.
Tell me about some of your previous jobs?
Modeling was primary business in the early to mid-nineties, tapering off at the end of the millennium. My daughter was born in 2001 and my son in 2004. During that period, my wife, Chris, was building and running her own talent agency, CBA, which is demanding to say the least. So, I stepped into the stay at home role. Over the years I've worked at a few places for short periods, production assisting for Jenny Landey, hanging priceless art for Sotheby's auction house, but house husband and soccer/ dance dad, were the jobs that stuck!
When did you decide to make the transition to dogs?
I was a stay at home dad from when our daughter was born, and then our son came along two years later. That was my primary focus for 13 years. As the kids got older and became more self-sufficient, I found myself with more time. I'm a lifelong dog person, who for a number of reasons, didn't have a dog in his life. Between traveling as a model, raising kids, and owning a cat that was old, cranky, and intolerant of other animals in the house, it just never was possible. After the cat died and our building lifted its restriction on dogs, I started regularly dog sitting a friend's dog, and began to see more and more dogs in our building. With the kids being more independent, I started trying on ideas of what could be next in my life. In the fall of last year, I discovered a website called rover.com, which made it easy for me to create a profile and provided structure, and connected me with its client base. Within a week, I had requests and bookings coming in. Pretty immediately, it seemed like a perfect fit for me. I realized how much I missed having dogs in my life, and I've barely had a day since then without dogs.
Did you grow up with dogs?
My family always had at least one dog in the house, and most of the time, we had multiple dogs. We had plenty of room because we lived on a farm, and even took in strays. When I was in high school, my dad started breeding dachshunds, and continues to do so today. I spent my whole childhood surrounded by dogs, so I've come full circle.
Do you have a dog?
No, not yet. I'm the very happy stepdad to very many dogs, and they are a constant presence in our home.
How do you deal with different temperaments?
I always meet every dog that makes an inquiry about me. It's important to understand the needs of the dog and of the owner, before committing to caring for them. That includes taking an assessment of the dogs' temperament. Do they behave well around other dogs? Are they antisocial? Aggressive? What triggers set them off? I've taken care of all kinds of dogs: blind dogs, ones with anxiety, aggressive, antisocial... I've never met a dog that I didn't love and want to help.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give people about dogs?
Dogs read and adapt to their caretakers emotional state. So if you're confident and calm, they will be. If they sense that you're nervous or hesitant, or that you're not in control, they get nervous. They don't want to be biting, fighting, or shivering in a corner. They want someone to create order and safety so they can behave as they've come to be known, as mans' best friend.
What's a typical day like?
I get up and take the dogs that are boarding at home out for a relief walk. Then I bring them back and feed them. At that point, I take in the daycare dogs and get everyone settled. Late morning I tend to take them for a long walk, to the dog park. Then I'm in and out, doing neighborhood walks and any personal errands that need to be done. The dogs at the house get another walk mid-afternoon, typically at some point after they all have nap time. The daycare dogs get picked up, and then the boarding dogs are fed, walked, and then hang out with me and my family ‘til bedtime.
What's your fav brand of leash!
I don't favor a brand so much as a style. Which is a six-foot flat nylon leash in varying widths, according to the dogs size, and without a bag dispenser. That's because they get in the way when I wrap the lease around my wrist to adjust the length of the lead as needed. I have several of my own leashes so I can use them instead of the dog’s personal leashes which vary in style and length and make it awkward when walking multiple dogs. I am, however, a big fan of the Easy Walk, and Gentle Leader harnesses by Petsafe. When you’re walking several dogs at once, their combined pulling force can be quite a workout, and these harnesses do a great job of neutralizing a dog’s desire and ability to pull on the leash, and can very quickly train the dog to walk with a loose leash.