Today on the blog I'm interviewing Sarah McManaman from Call of the Wild Canine Services. She's a dog walker and dog trainer who takes pups on fantastic off-leash adventures through the beautiful trails of Nova Scotia. And documents it all with her GoPro! (all the images in this blog are hers)
Q: How did you decide to go into dog walking as a career, and how long have you owned Call of the Wild Canine Services?
I started fostering dogs in 2009, and my life quickly turned into all dogs, all the time, so caring for dogs other than my own was something I was doing regularly. In 2013 I took the plunge and started taking other peoples’ dogs for hikes! It was something that I did for free for quite a while because it’s so hard for me to charge money for things! I know, it sounds so silly, but I was raised to do nice things for other people because that’s the nice thing to do. If you can help you should. So it really took some personal discipline to be able to turn this into a business and understand the value that I bring to dog owners and their dogs lives.
Q: What types of services do you offer your clients? And why do your clients love it so much?
Off leash group hikes are what I specialize in and I love them! In the woods with dogs is really where I feel most comfortable, and even when I’m not working it’s what I do in my spare time. At the end of a day of hiking all day I like to drive out to the beach to try to catch a pretty sunset. As for what my clients love, you would have to ask them! I feel like everyone appreciates my honesty and approachability. I’ve never been much of a business person; I do what I do because I love it and I’m good at it. So my clients can always be sure that they are getting the real me and always hearing about any little changes or concerns I see with their dogs. I’ve always been upfront and honest about whether or not my services are the best option for them. Sometimes dogs may be a little too shy to feel comfortable to go out with a stranger and that is perfectly okay; I never want to force a dog to do something that they don’t feel comfortable with. I also feel like the people who seek me out to walk their dogs also appreciate my experience in dog training. It is definitely a huge asset when working with groups of off leash dogs. Another thing my clients love is the pictures that I take during our hikes. I am by no means a photographer, but I love taking photos and my GoPro is my weapon of choice. You’ll rarely see me without my GoPro in hand. You can only take so many cell phone portrait shots of dogs before it becomes quite redundant. I love that with my GoPro, which offers a wider angle photo, that I can capture the beautiful areas I walk as well as the dogs.
Q: Which areas does Call of the Wild serve and where do you like to explore on walks/hikes?
I service the core Dartmouth and Halifax areas. As for my favorite spots to hike, well .. I’ll never tell! I always joke when people ask me what trails I use, because the reason I love them is that they are low traffic areas and sometimes we can enjoy our whole walk without bumping into any! I will say though, it’s hard to think of a prettier place to hike in than Nova Scotia. My favorite places to go to hike and also get good pictures has to be rugged coastal trails. Especially the coastal trails around the HRM; they are just so visually pleasing for me. Any trails by the ocean are always a big winner. Anywhere I can catch a good sunset and be able to walk quite a ways without running into anyone else.
Q: Tell me about your own pups!
I share my life with a pretty amazing dog named Zephyr. He was a $150 mutt off Kijiji, which I know everyone has their own opinions on, but boy did I ever hit the jackpot! I picked him almost 8 years ago to this very day! He peed in the car on the drive home, but I was instantly in love. I can’t even say enough good things about him. He is fun, silly and so very loving. He loves to work, and he always has an eye on me in case there is an opportunity to do some tricks and earn some snacks. He is always up for any adventure I have in mind, but is also down for spending the day on the couch under some blankets watching movies. He recently got his Trick Dog Champion title, so you could say he is a bit of a trick connoisseur as well. My new year’s resolution this year was to do more with Zephyr. We already do A LOT together, but we’ve wrangled some new hobbies this year as well! In addition to getting his Trick Dog Champion title at the beginning of 2016, he participated in his first class ever, and started trialling for the first time as well. He tried out his paw at dock diving at AquaTerra Kennels, did a couple of Disc Dog trials, and we are currently training to give Rally Obedience a try! So, long story short, he is an awesome dog. 8 years old and only getting better with age!
Q: Where can the pups of Halifax find and follow you online? Which social media platforms are your favourites?
Instagram is definitely my favorite social platform!! I think I’ve only had my IG account for 2-3 years, but I’m almost at my 6,000th post. There are just so many cool people on there, and by people I mean dogs. I’ve gotten to meet some cool new dog walkers, dog trainers, and just dog enthusiasts in general! There is a great community of GoPro users as well, which is another big interest of mine. @timthetoothninja is a great example of someone else who loves dogs and is using his GoPros to help document the fun they have together. I really love the content he creates, and he has definitely helped me out in learning the ropes when it comes to GoPros. You guys should check him out! If you wanted to find Call of the Wild on the internet, you could choose any of these routes:
You can also find me posting pictures and training tips on the Sublime Canine Services page at:
Q: What is your favourite local dog-related company?
Sublime Canine Services. I am biased though, because I am one of the trainers for this lovely dog training company (you can find me in puppy class!). I’ve always loved these guys for their approachability. They make training fun and realistic. I remember before I ever got into dog training I had taken one of my foster dogs to a Basic Life Skills class with them, and they had laid out everything so clearly; it was a huge game changer for me! Definitely the reason why I got into dog training. They are kind, supportive, and always accommodating. I can’t say enough good things about them. Beyond puppy training and life skills training classes, everyone on the team is pretty involved in dog sports! If you’ve ever been interested in dog sports and want to ask some questions I’m sure any of our sport trainers would love to talk your ear off about them!
Q: Thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to talk about Call of the Wild, Sarah! Is there anything else you'd like to add or talk about?
I think if I could encourage anyone to do anything, it would be to have as much fun as possible with their dogs. Perhaps get into trick training. Tricks can be cute and entertaining when you have company over, but they always can translate into real world skills. Even more than just being tricks, it’s an opportunity to bond and connect with your dog. You can really find out a lot from the learning process. For example, my sweet boy can be quite sensitive, and get frustrated if he doesn’t understand something. So I’ve become a “master splitter”: I learned to break behaviours down to smaller steps so that I could gradually build up the behaviour or trick to when I wanted it to be. Being able to see those small rewardable moments in your trick training transfers over into real life as well. We expect our dogs to put up with a whole lot in life, and often just take it for granted. I’ve always felt a lot happier when I’ve been acknowledging the small successes with my dogs, instead of just getting after them for the stuff I don’t like. So I guess what I’m saying is play with your dogs! Whether its tricks, or dog sports, long walks or just chucking a ball for them. Do what makes you both happy as much as you can! Our time spent with them in this world is so unfairly short, never pass up an opportunity to bring out the joy in your relationship and not take things to seriously.