At Work


Workers Around The Region

July 27, 2005|By Lizzie Newland

Matt McDermott

Dog walker

Age: 27

Years in business: Eight months as the owner of McDermutt's Baltimore, but he has been dog walking and pet sitting on the side for a few years.

Salary: $40,000

Career move: Before McDermott started his business, he worked at an advertising agency in Hunt Valley and as an English teacher at Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore.

Services: McDermutt's, which consists of McDermott, his wife, and two employees, walks 10 to 20 dogs a day. They also administer medications.

Rates: The free initial consultation gives McDermott a chance to meet the pet and put the owner's mind at ease. A 30-minute walk for one dog or 30-minute play time for up to four cats is $13. Holiday, emergency or out of service area visits are $15 per half hour.

Number of clients: Just under 100

How many dogs at a time? Three.

Types of pets: McDermott has cared for dogs, cats, rats, birds, ferrets and reptiles.

Burnout: "I'll do this as long as I can," says McDermott, "but the biggest thing in this business is burnout." He usually starts walking dogs at 7:30 a.m. and ending as late as 9 p.m. He says he works 55 to 70 hours in a seven-day workweek.

Misconceptions: People don't really understand the amount of time, money and the emotional toll associated with owning a small business. McDermott says some people think dog walking is a "hippie job," but he says he isn't really concerned with what others think. "The dog walking itself is pretty laid back - you get to be outside, you're getting toned, and you're getting paid pretty well."

Rain or shine: McDermott works in all types of weather and hasn't yet missed a day because of it. "Cold rain is the worst," McDermott says.

The good: With two bachelor's degrees from Towson University and a master's from the Johns Hopkins University, he doesn't "feel like any of my education goes to waste." He uses his skills in creativity, market strategy and from teaching. Plus, he gets to fulfill his desire to be around animals. "I can only have so many dogs and cats at home ... so it's like having an extended family to hang out with."

The bad: The hours. "I'm lucky I have a wife that is really supportive. It's really a single person's job."

Pets: McDermott and his wife have a pit bull and three cats.

Quirky clients: One has 35 to 60 rats. Another client has 10 cats in a condo. One owner asked him to sing a Beatles song while the dog went to the bathroom. "I felt obligated to. Plus, I love the Beatles. If she wanted me to sing some Celine Dion song, I would have declined."-Lizzie Newland

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