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Saratoga dog walker has a big following

Saratoga dog walker has a big following

Schenectady native and his assistant provide exercise, socializing for dozens of dogs
Saratoga dog walker has a big following
Saratoga Dog Walkers owner Tim Pink walks dogs down Frederick Street in Ballston Spa on May 17.
Photographer: erica miller/gazette photographer

Every Saratoga County resident has probably seen Tim Pink at some point in their lives. 

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, here’s a hint: he’s usually accompanied by a pack of dogs. 

“We have 27 today,” said Pink on a recent morning walk in Ballston Spa.

The Schenectady native has been doing walks like these since 2011 when he founded Saratoga Dog Walkers. After getting his degree in business, finance and marketing, he was thinking of getting a typical 9 to 5 at a marketing firm. At the time, his dog Bluff was a puppy and Pink knew he would need to hire someone to come in during the day to take care of him. 

The light bulb went on when Pink realized he could be that guy and do the same thing for others. 

In 2011, Pink began walking dogs all around Saratoga Springs, where he lives today. 

“Back then I offered everything from pet sitting to dog massages and now we specialize in the pack program,” Pink said. 

In a typical week, he and his assistant, Erin Prevost, walk around 50 dogs Monday through Friday. There are no breed restrictions, they just divide the packs by dog size. Pink usually walks the larger breeds and Prevost usually walks the smaller dogs, the tiniest weighing about four pounds. When the walk is done, the dogs are dropped back off home and towel dried if it rained or snowed on the way. 

Images: See Tim Pink walking all those dogs, May 21, 2019

When people see the pack coming down the road, with so many dogs all in a line, they often do a double take, said Pink. It’s helped the word of the business spread, as has social media. Their Instagram account, which has over 12,000 followers, is packed with videos of their walks and line-ups, where all the dogs are situated class photo style in a picturesque part of Saratoga County. 

During their walks, people like Ballston Spa resident Peggy Zimmerman will come outside of their cars and homes just to catch a glimpse of the action. Occasionally, Pink’s route goes right by her house and she’ll come out to see them and snap a few photos. 

“I’ve just been admiring them. I don’t know how they do that,” Zimmerman said. 

The process behind pack training is difficult to explain, but it comes down to building a relationship with the dog, said Pink. Well before a dog joins the pack, Pink will meet with the dog and form a relationship with them, finding out if they're reactive to other dogs and how much obedience training they've had. When the dog is ready, Pink will slowly introduce them to the pack. 

Pink knows each dog in the pack by its name and often calls out each dog during walks, giving words of praise or encouragement. When called, each dog looks right up at him, no matter what is going on around the pack, including when someone else is walking their dog or when there’s traffic. 
“It all boils down to reading their body language, seeing how they feel about it and what’s going on and taking it from there,” Pink said. 

People are always surprised at just how obedient the dogs are, even in such a large pack where one would think it’d be easy for the dogs to get over excited and distracted. 

That’s what initially made Saratoga Springs resident Rose Zacek reach out to Pink.

Images: See Tim Pink walking all those dogs, May 21, 2019

"I saw this guy walking all these dogs and [then] I saw him work one on one with this girl in a park. He was training her dog how to walk on a leash and he had her hold the leash and the dog wouldn’t pay attention. He held the leash, said a few words and the dog sat and walked [perfectly],” Zacek said. 

Pink has been working with her black lab Lexi for the last six years, which has really saved both the dog and owner, said Zacek.

“I’ve never been without a dog. When we were little, my father got [me] a dog and [I’ve] always had a dog,” Zacek said. But with her health deteriorating, she could no longer walk Lexi as much as he needed. She considered giving Lexi up for adoption, but then she met Pink and things turned around. 

“Tim is the reason I didn’t have to get rid of my dog,” Zacek said, “I’m going to hold onto Lexi as long as I can.”

Lexi is a regular pack member and Zacek said he goes to the door as soon as he hears Pink’s van. 

“Everybody knows Lexi. All my friends say ‘I saw Lexi walking with Tim today,’” Zacek said. 

The walks give Lexi all the exercise he needs and it makes him much calmer at home, Zacek said. 

“I always knew I wanted to create something that meets the needs of dogs on a daily basis and so many people have a hard time [doing that] because either they don’t know how to [or they] don’t understand that these are actually needs for their dog,” Pink said. 

Socializing dogs and giving them exercise makes them more well behaved and what Pink calls more well-rounded. Besides the pack program, Pink also offers cage-free boarding to customers who are going out of town. 

Running the business has been rewarding, said Pink, especially as he pours a lot of passion into the well being of these dogs. That passion and connection are what keep the pack going, through miles and miles of walks each week. 

“The pack runs deep,” Pink said. 

Images: See Tim Pink walking all those dogs, May 21, 2019

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