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Friday, July 26th, 2013, 07:04 PM | Updated: 07/26/2013, 07:04:03 PM | (Anonymous) [0 Comments]

Every occupation has its own unique history including where and how it originated, and how it evolved over time until the current day.  This even applies to the profession of dog walking.

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported the death of Jim Buck.  Mr. Buck was a native New Yorker who is credited with having started the first dog walking business in the city (and in the U.S. for that matter).  He operated “Jim Buck’s School for Dogs” for approximately 40 years.  Jim ran his business with the help of more than twenty assistants.  Together they provided daily walks for over 150 New York dogs.  He and his dog walkers rambled up and down city streets and through Central Park providing each owner’s pet with at least 12 miles of exercise.  The dog walkers themselves walked approximately 25 miles each day and fanned out across Manhattan in pairs, each person commanding the leashes of six or more dogs at one time.   

I did some of my own research about Jim Buck and located a “Talk of the Town” segment about him in The New Yorker magazine from 1965 and a newspaper article from 1996.  What a fascinating man!  In the course of reading about his life and his business, I immediately felt a strong kindred spirit.  Why?  Because there are several common threads to our lives – traced back to place, physical traits and personal style:

(1) Both Jim and I spent time as children in Connecticut; he trained horses there and I was born and grew up there.
(2) The New York Times referenced his lifelong slim physique and weight of 145 pounds.  A photograph reveals his long legs suitable for making strides and going for extended walks.  I also have a trim physique and consistently maintain a body weight of 145 pounds.  When I lived on the East Coast and frequently spent time in New York, going for long walks in the city was one of my favorite pastimes.
(3) Jim was typically seen sporting fine clothing, often wearing grey flannel and tweed as he walked Manhattan with his canine entourage.  Those who know me well can attest to my own personal fashion sense.  When I lived in Boston (and travelled to New York for business and to attend theater), I enjoyed dressing smartly often wearing tailored wool suits, crisp dress shirts and fine leather shoes.  At the time, the only thing I lacked was a well-groomed dog by my side.

But of course, I feel most connected to Jim across the decades given the occupation we share.

Today I walk dogs in and around La Jolla, a far cry from the towering cityscape of Manhattan.  But since reading about Jim Buck’s life, when I now set out to walk a dog, I think of Jim and his groundbreaking efforts to professionalize dog walking.  When people ask me what I do, I proudly explain that I am a pet care professional and have my own business.   As I speak these words, I think of Jim Buck fondly.  And so, I say “Thank You Jim” for turning your love for dogs into an occupation and setting the course for dog walking history more than 50 years ago.


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