We are in the final weeks of the state of emergency declared in TinyHorse’s home-base of Toronto, Canada. Social distancing measures are easing and tomorrow Toronto dog walkers, groomers and trainers can officially resume services. Many companies will return to the city’s parks and trails on this first day, while others have chosen to wait a few more weeks to recommence business. I’ve seen heartwarming video compilations on social media of dogs running out to their walkers and greeting packmates after weeks apart. These reunions already taking place in other parts of the world are proving to be quite emotional as they reflect the rewarding bonds built in the animal-care industry, the return of our livelihoods and the arrival of some kind of “normalcy” after so much “unknown.” Some dog walkers did not fully suspend services, as many in our trade support the family units (canines included!) of front-line workers.
I’m looking forward to reuniting with my own packs! Alongside being the sole human behind TinyHorse, I’m also a full-time dog walker for a wonderful company called Bow Wow Walkers. I’ll return to that work on June 1st. Until then, I’ll make the most of the remaining opportunity to focus on TinyHorse full time. These past 8 weeks have seen the company find a dedicated space inside my home, many hours of sewing and leather work, product developments and the acquisition of new tools for the workshop. TinyHorse also stayed connected with the dog-care industry through social media and I was incredibly delighted, but not surprised, to see the wave of support dog wakers surged towards one another through this challenge. Naturally, TinyHorse wanted to contribute to the collective effort, so we held contests on social media and gave away 5 sets of prizes to dog walkers in Canada and the United States. We also raised our industry discount from 20% to 30% and for the first time applied this discount to our line of leads, not just the Lead-All leashes. See our previous blog entry for full details. This increased industry discount will stay in place until 11:59 pm EST on June 1st, 2020.
“How to prevent the spread of COVID-19” is an important line of questioning and industry development emerging as we face re-entering the workforce. Aside from donning masks, gloves and deploying an arsenal of sanitizing liquids, bringing your own gear (BYOG!) to the job is an effective way to reduce contact between you and your clients. Client leashes are an incredibly personal item that is a “high traffic zone” for the accumulation of bacteria and viruses. Client leashes can also carry tremendous personal value (perhaps it is a life-time leash held on walks with different canine companions) and the risk of damaging or loosing that item is not worth taking it on a pack walk. When you bring your own gear to work, you can ensure that it is only handled by you and that it is washed regularly. TinyHorse gear can be washed routinely in your machine – just toss it all into a laundry bag (I prefer cloth drawstring ones), use regular laundry soap and wash it in warm or cold water. Hang to dry. Our leashes are made from polypropylene webbing, which is a non-porous material. This means that dog walking dirt and grim settles into the weave of the material and not into the material itself, so can easily be soaked and removed leaving your leashes bright wash after wash!
Aside from the hygienic aspect, TinyHorse has received positive feedback from customers about the kind of professional image our system projects. One customer relayed that with himself and his pack all clipped to one central point, the ensemble looked controlled and unified. Another walker, who has ordered several rounds of leashes from us as her business has grown, recently told me she was pleased to look back at her photos and have so many organized pack shots with coordinated leashes, which increased the professionalism of her social media image. With our 16 colour options, you can reflect your company’s palette or just bring cheer to your own day with one of our colour combinations. One of my own favourite qualities of the Lead-All leash system is how quick and easy it is to get a cohesive pack photo. With all your dogs on leash secure your lead to a fence or tree, then get down low and aim your lens upwards at the pack and take your shot. The result is you can hardly see that the dogs are leashed together.
The design of TinyHorse gear is a dynamic response to the demands of dog walking. An increased awareness of the transmission of bacteria and viruses is setting new standards for our industry – don’t reach for your client’s personal leash, BYOG! Take care and good luck to you all as you return to work – I’ll be watching for those tear-summoning posts about being back with your pack!