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Quote Unquote: What it’s Like to Babysit Dogs, Walk Cats and Even Feed Octopuses

Erin Gerwig created Dogwalker Etc. in 2001 and has been helping out pet families on O‘ahu ever since, providing animal lovers around the island with dog walking, pet sitting, overnight care and boarding services.


Photo: David Croxford

THE COMPANY I was working for went out of business and they let all 80 employees go. I started walking dogs because I love animals and it was something to do before I figured out what I wanted to do next. I figured out people really loved it and needed it, and it just grew from there. 


ANYTIME I GET TO BE with the animals, it’s amazing. It’s the best job in the world. They’re all great—even the grumpy ones.


ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO, we had to take care of a guy’s octopus. We had to feed it frozen calamari strips. It was cool; it would come out of the bottom of the tank. 


WHEN THERE ARE older pets that aren’t doing that well, it’s hard. There are lots of medication and possible vet trips. Those are difficult, because you worry a lot. 


DOGS AND CATS are my favorite; I grew up with those. I also grew up with rabbits and lizards and things like that, but, as far as the amount of love they give back, dogs are great. They definitely are the lovers, I think—but I love them all.


WE HAVE ANYWHERE FROM 25 to 35 staff members actively working all on the same day. We service the whole island, so we have more than 40 households that we visit daily. I’d say we probably make about 150 visits per day. That amount doubles during the holidays.


I had to walk a cat once—five days a week. 


IF AN OWNER says his dog never poops on walks, he’s definitely gonna poop on a walk.


WE’VE HAD CLIENTS ask us to put their dogs in baby slings and walk around with them. People are like, “What are you doing? You’re a dog walker, but you’re carrying him.”


WE’RE TRYING TO start a virtual GPS for owners, so they’ll never have to wonder if we came or what time we came. We want to build an app so you can check off if your dog pooped or peed or met a buddy—stuff like that. Clients can schedule walks and add pictures. It’ll be something you can access right on your phone. 


LIBBY’S 13 and I got her when she was 2. I met her when she was 4 months old. My clients knew how much I loved Libby. I just gushed about her—I had never met a Cavalier before. So, two clients who had Cavaliers as well decided they were going to try to have a couple of litters of puppies. They told me when they had their puppies, I could pick one out—and that was Isabella. They both came from Dogwalker!


Dogwalker Etc. is always looking for people who will do private boarding. If you’re interested, applications are online at dogwalkeretc.com


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Honolulu Magazine September 2018
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