By Rory Reynolds
A NURSE who quit her low-paid job in health care has doubled her £15,000 nurses’ wage – as a professional dog walker.
Julie Odell found a new lease of life when she quit her stressful job to change career.
And the 43-year-old has never looked back since her brave decision to open her own business.
Julie said: “It’s a wonderful business to have – I am up against a lot of competition but I’ve been doing this two years and I’ve never not had any dogs.“I don’t have any skills – I just love dogs and they love me.
“And aside from being a pleasant job – there’s a lot of money to be made.
“I’m just part time but I’ve heard of one man who charges £10 per dog her hour, takes six dogs on every walk and does three walks every weekday.
“That’s £180 per day – and £900 a week – incredible.
“But it’s not just about the money – working for myself is just fantastic.
“Now I can work on my own terms.
“Before this I was trapped in this horrible system in the NHS.
“I watched as the standards of care plummeted – but my voice went completely unheard whenever I said ‘this isn’t the best way we can be doing this’.
“I left and while I was in between jobs I met a woman out walking with a dog – and fell in love with the idea.
“Now I get paid to go out to walk around Edinburgh on lovely days like this.
“I started out just doing this with one dog but now I have nine or ten.
“It’s a proper business now – it’s no fly-by-night thing.”
Dog walking is an increasingly competitive industry with 18 firms listed in Edinburgh and many more students and casual workers getting into the business.
Julie said: “There is a lot of people out there doing it – you don’t have to have to register or anything.
“Many people are do it without insurance but I have, and can do up to six dogs at a time on my insurance.
“Not everyone does but it’s a responsible thing to do and it means I’m prepared for everything.
“I’ve sorted out tax returns and even had a police checks.
“It is competitive, but people get to trust me and your name gets around – and now I’ve got my own website.
“You can tell the other dog walkers – they have a strange and large collection, all different breeds and sizes.”
And Julie – who is based in the south of Edinburgh – charges £8 per dog per hour, which includes picking up in her car, walking for an hour, cleaning, and returning home.
She added: “That includes picking the dog up, a full hour’s walk, cleaning them if they need to be, and dropping them off back home – I even give the only a little report on how the dog was.
“If you told me years ago that I’d be running my own business – that I love – I’d never have believed it.
“It may seem easy but you’re taking a risk with any business.
“I’ve built up clients and it’s been hard work at times. You have to come out on raining days and everything.
“But I am in heaven – this is a great little business and I’ll never look back.”