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寵物寄養行業面臨沖擊,這位遛狗師靈活應對

港股实时行情查询: 寵物寄養行業面臨沖擊,這位遛狗師靈活應對

Erika Fry 2020年06月12日
一位寵物保姆成功讓自己在疫情期間有事可做。

2019沪指年线位置 www.839841.tw

在新冠疫情侵襲紐約市之前,作為寵物保姆和兼職健身教練的珍·澤恩每周會工作七天,在紐約市的切爾西區遛狗、照看寵物。2012年,澤恩開始了自己的寵物保姆工作,2016年搬到紐約后,她還是做著這項工作,而且生意好到她都不需要有自己的固定住所,因為上一家的工作剛做完,緊接著就要到下一家去照看寵物。

在談及4年前搬到紐約來時,澤恩說:“我當時的目標就是不付房租,代人照看房子。我真沒想到這門生意能做成?!?/p>

但隨著疫情的爆發,她和自己在健身房的同事也都丟掉了工作。在紐約,雖然寵物照看和遛狗是不可或缺的服務,但這方面的工作也受到了很大沖擊,不過澤恩在疫情期間依然有工作可做,某種意義上說,她挺享受現在的工作狀態。

近期,《財富》采訪了澤恩,了解疫情對其收入和未來看法的影響,以及她現在的工作狀態。

為簡明起見,以下對話有所刪改。

自2016年以來,澤恩一直在做著寵物保姆和兼職健身教練的工作,因為客戶源源不斷,所以她甚至沒有自己固定的住址:只需要從一個客戶家中搬到另一個客戶家中就夠了。圖片來源:Renee Choi Photography

《財富》:新冠疫情爆發前,你的工作是怎樣的狀態?

澤恩:疫情爆發前,我每周會工作七天??梢運抵灰牘ぷ骶突嵋恢庇謝罡?。要是想休息的話還得提前計劃才行。一般情況下,我大概有10到15個工作預約。有些遛狗師只在假期工作,有些只在工作日工作。也有一周都在工作的。我就每天都遛狗,周一到周五的工作占到了總工作量的60%,另外40%是在假期。

我喜歡假期,因為重大假日一般是一年當中工作最多的時候。比如陣亡將士紀念日、獨立日、圣誕節和感恩節一般都是一年中最忙的時候。對于那些在工作日從事遛狗工作的人來說,這份工作的作息更接近于常規工作。對我而言,無論是工作日還是假期的工作我都很喜歡。

疫情什么時候開始影響到了你的工作?

大約在2月中下旬,因為很多企業都讓員工在家工作了,導致我們在周中的工作量開始減少。當時,我的客戶差不多每周都會少一個。他們會跟我說:“啊,因為我現在在家工作,所以不用麻煩你過來幫忙了?!敝笏孀排υ技叭蚋韉胤追淄瞥鼉蛹伊?,所有假期的工作預約也都取消了。

這種情況很嚇人對吧,畢竟你也沒有固定的住處?你有可以去的地方嗎?

幸好我有個相處非常融洽的男友,最近我一直住在他那。我也曾想過如果沒跟他交往會發生什么情況。紐約部分寵物保姆現在的工作只是幫助那些離開紐約的人看顧他們的貓。我想可能那些養狗的人大多在出城時把狗也帶走了。但還有很多貓需要有人照看。我覺得要是我真沒地方去,或許會有某位老主顧愿意讓我住在他們家吧,希望如此?;蛘呶乙部梢曰囟硨ザ?,跟家人住在一起,或者住在其他什么地方。

針對疫情你采取了哪些防護措施?

主要就是按照大樓管理方的建議做些最基本的防護。一些客戶還是會當面把狗狗交給我,只是我會佩戴口罩。然后就是洗手洗得更勤了。遛狗時我一直用的是自己的繩套,所以我也沒戴手套。

我是這么考慮的,如果狗狗會感染病毒,那我的客戶肯定也已經感染了,那么狗狗身上也會沾上病毒。當然這都是假設的,我覺得其實不太可能發生。不過也肯定會有遛狗師害怕碰到這種情況。比如有些人在把狗帶到家中時會給狗洗澡,還會采取其它一些防護措施。我覺得我可能對這件事沒那么緊張。

紐約發布的居家令對你的業務有什么影響?還能遛狗么?

對于遛狗師這個行業是否屬于必要行業,一開始其實說的并不是很清楚。現在,它已被正式納入必要行業名單。因為我們有些客戶是依然堅守在崗位上的醫務工作者。我有個客戶是債券行業的,她現在比疫情前還忙,因而想要有人來幫她遛遛狗,好讓她能完成自己的工作。所以我們這個行業一直都很重要。最近,我認識的一些遛狗師停工了,也許是因為他們與高風險人群生活在一起,也許是因為害怕,亦或是因為要乘坐地鐵通勤。我可以步行到我服務的區域,所以我永遠都不會停工,但有些人是已經停工了。

居家令生效的前兩周,大家因為不知道會發生什么情況,所以多少有些不敢出門。而我還是會每天出門,居家令已經推出兩個月了,也沒怎么在街上碰到咳嗽的人,大家也都戴著口罩,所以我現在還挺放心的。我覺得跟他人保持六英尺的距離也并不是一件難事。商店和各座大樓也都采取了一定的防護舉措,比如:不用跟門衛說話,電梯也有載客限制,諸如此類。這段時間我就是這么過的,所以感覺還行。

你的工作量下降了多少?

和往常相比下降了大概75%到80%,甚至85%。我盡量每天接兩單工作,有時候多些,有時候少些。

我的大多數老客戶要么現在不在紐約,要么處于居家辦公的狀態,所以我還沒見到過他們。我還通過Wag(一款遛狗應用程序——譯者注)按需提供遛狗服務,這部分客戶我也不認識。他們大多都是宅在家里,而我不會亂問些七七八八的問題。

那些不在紐約或者居家辦公的客戶會繼續給你付錢么?

他們想付錢,但我沒要。

對于業務下滑你有多擔心?現在的收入只有正常狀態的20%到25%,這份工作還能干下去么?

現在的收入對我來說是夠的,因為我很節儉。生意好的時候,我存的錢也比較多,再就是目前也不用交房租。這也是我沒有申請經濟援助的原因之一,因為收入足以支撐我的開支。只要不動我的存款就行,這就是我現在想要維持的水平。所以對我來說,只要能達到這一水平,我都不會有什么問題。

但我相信很多人,尤其是那些兼職擔任遛狗師的藝術家或者學生,他們中可能有些人不會回紐約了。

大約18個月前,我為紐約的寵物保姆和遛狗師創建了一個Facebook小組??雌鵠茨切┮的詰睦先嘶茍莢詮ぷ?。大多數人的工作量都下降了70%到80%。我覺得現在最難熬的實際上是那些剛入行的新人,他們基本上失去了所有的客戶和收入來源。

新冠疫情期間,紐約的狗文化有什么變化嗎?

變化還是有一些的。紐約人愛狗,也許每個人都愛狗。經常有人會過來逗逗你牽著的狗,跟狗狗玩玩,也不會問東問西。我還記得3月初有一次,一位女士摸了摸我牽著的狗,她的表情好像在說:“啊,別擔心,我剛洗的手?!蔽揖醯靡怯腥訟攵汗吠?,如果拒絕的話反而挺奇怪的。不過,現在人們不像以前那么喜歡逗狗了,但是如果你是牽著兩條狗出去遛,每條狗都用3英尺的繩套牽著,那就正好是6英尺了。

愛狗人士還是會和狗一起玩。在麥迪遜廣場公園附近,雖然狗狗公園關閉了,但是人們會把狗牽到草坪上,那里有一小片區域現在成了小型狗狗公園。所以人們還是可以和狗一起玩,只不過可能不像以前那么頻繁了。

現在,你跟養狗人士聊天的話題有什么變化么?

我覺得現在除了疫情好像也沒什么可聊的。別的事大家好像也不太上心,在紐約尤其如此。疫情影響著生活的方方面面,甚至連星巴克開不開門都得看疫情發展情況。太不一樣了。

即使是和我男朋友,我們聊的也都是疫情的事。這個話題現在真的是已經聊爛了。

這段時間你在遛狗時碰到過什么奇怪的事么?

我是亞裔,對亞裔來說這段時間挺煎熬的。我有個華裔女性朋友,她比我還慘。她最后離開了紐約,離開前她是在SoHo區服務,她說自己在那里每天都會收到差評。我只從幾個腦子不好的客戶那里收到過差評,這種情況挺少見。現在,天黑以后我也不出門了。以前晚上人多,還挺安全,但現在不一樣了。不過現在人們也開始慢慢走出家門。封城的頭4個禮拜街上幾乎空無一人,現在出來的人漸漸多了起來,商家也陸續開門營業了。

這次疫情對你個人有什么影響?

老實說,我是個很內向的人,對工作的熱情也一般。只是因為喜歡才做了遛狗師。撇開新冠疫情不談的話,空空蕩蕩的街道和不用排隊的感覺也不錯。我挺享受這段空檔期,不過我也希望生活能早日回復正常。街角的小意大利餐廳剛剛開門,所以我們就想,“現在是上午10:30。我們應該點個披薩慶祝一下?!?/p>

你認為新冠疫情會徹底改變遛狗師和寵物保姆行業么?還是會回到疫情前的狀態?

這個問題問得好。從紐約遛狗師的角度來說,我覺得有很多客戶其實可以在家工作,他們日常工作比較靈活,如果想離開紐約也完全可以。所以就行業的變化而言,還是要看有多少客戶不再需要寵物照看服務,也要看封城期間寵物收養者的情況,以及有多少潛在遛狗師會就此離開這座城市。我覺得市場會出現一次重新洗牌,但最后所有的問題都會解決。我聽說2008年(經濟?;┖笠卜⑸撕艽蟊浠?,不過可能也沒這次的變化這么大。但我覺得對于享受奢侈服務的人來說,2008年發生了很多變化。我覺得高收入群體最后還是會回來,對他們而言,雇人幫自己遛狗仍然是劃算的。

至于那些在疫情期間收養了寵物的人士,暫時還沒看到他們有什么照看寵物的需求。通常來說,很多人喜歡在12月份抱養小狗。所以一般在1月和2月會有一波“小狗潮”。現在的好處在于,狗狗都被主人帶著出來了,如果我愿意的話,完全可以在保持社交距離的同時跟他們聊聊,看看他們在疫情過后會有什么需求。(財富中文網)

譯者:梁宇

審校:夏林

在新冠疫情侵襲紐約市之前,作為寵物保姆和兼職健身教練的珍·澤恩每周會工作七天,在紐約市的切爾西區遛狗、照看寵物。2012年,澤恩開始了自己的寵物保姆工作,2016年搬到紐約后,她還是做著這項工作,而且生意好到她都不需要有自己的固定住所,因為上一家的工作剛做完,緊接著就要到下一家去照看寵物。

在談及4年前搬到紐約來時,澤恩說:“我當時的目標就是不付房租,代人照看房子。我真沒想到這門生意能做成?!?/p>

但隨著疫情的爆發,她和自己在健身房的同事也都丟掉了工作。在紐約,雖然寵物照看和遛狗是不可或缺的服務,但這方面的工作也受到了很大沖擊,不過澤恩在疫情期間依然有工作可做,某種意義上說,她挺享受現在的工作狀態。

近期,《財富》采訪了澤恩,了解疫情對其收入和未來看法的影響,以及她現在的工作狀態。

為簡明起見,以下對話有所刪改。

《財富》:新冠疫情爆發前,你的工作是怎樣的狀態?

澤恩:疫情爆發前,我每周會工作七天??梢運抵灰牘ぷ骶突嵋恢庇謝罡?。要是想休息的話還得提前計劃才行。一般情況下,我大概有10到15個工作預約。有些遛狗師只在假期工作,有些只在工作日工作。也有一周都在工作的。我就每天都遛狗,周一到周五的工作占到了總工作量的60%,另外40%是在假期。

我喜歡假期,因為重大假日一般是一年當中工作最多的時候。比如陣亡將士紀念日、獨立日、圣誕節和感恩節一般都是一年中最忙的時候。對于那些在工作日從事遛狗工作的人來說,這份工作的作息更接近于常規工作。對我而言,無論是工作日還是假期的工作我都很喜歡。

疫情什么時候開始影響到了你的工作?

大約在2月中下旬,因為很多企業都讓員工在家工作了,導致我們在周中的工作量開始減少。當時,我的客戶差不多每周都會少一個。他們會跟我說:“啊,因為我現在在家工作,所以不用麻煩你過來幫忙了?!敝笏孀排υ技叭蚋韉胤追淄瞥鼉蛹伊?,所有假期的工作預約也都取消了。

這種情況很嚇人對吧,畢竟你也沒有固定的住處?你有可以去的地方嗎?

幸好我有個相處非常融洽的男友,最近我一直住在他那。我也曾想過如果沒跟他交往會發生什么情況。紐約部分寵物保姆現在的工作只是幫助那些離開紐約的人看顧他們的貓。我想可能那些養狗的人大多在出城時把狗也帶走了。但還有很多貓需要有人照看。我覺得要是我真沒地方去,或許會有某位老主顧愿意讓我住在他們家吧,希望如此?;蛘呶乙部梢曰囟硨ザ?,跟家人住在一起,或者住在其他什么地方。

針對疫情你采取了哪些防護措施?

主要就是按照大樓管理方的建議做些最基本的防護。一些客戶還是會當面把狗狗交給我,只是我會佩戴口罩。然后就是洗手洗得更勤了。遛狗時我一直用的是自己的繩套,所以我也沒戴手套。

我是這么考慮的,如果狗狗會感染病毒,那我的客戶肯定也已經感染了,那么狗狗身上也會沾上病毒。當然這都是假設的,我覺得其實不太可能發生。不過也肯定會有遛狗師害怕碰到這種情況。比如有些人在把狗帶到家中時會給狗洗澡,還會采取其它一些防護措施。我覺得我可能對這件事沒那么緊張。

紐約發布的居家令對你的業務有什么影響?還能遛狗么?

對于遛狗師這個行業是否屬于必要行業,一開始其實說的并不是很清楚。現在,它已被正式納入必要行業名單。因為我們有些客戶是依然堅守在崗位上的醫務工作者。我有個客戶是債券行業的,她現在比疫情前還忙,因而想要有人來幫她遛遛狗,好讓她能完成自己的工作。所以我們這個行業一直都很重要。最近,我認識的一些遛狗師停工了,也許是因為他們與高風險人群生活在一起,也許是因為害怕,亦或是因為要乘坐地鐵通勤。我可以步行到我服務的區域,所以我永遠都不會停工,但有些人是已經停工了。

居家令生效的前兩周,大家因為不知道會發生什么情況,所以多少有些不敢出門。而我還是會每天出門,居家令已經推出兩個月了,也沒怎么在街上碰到咳嗽的人,大家也都戴著口罩,所以我現在還挺放心的。我覺得跟他人保持六英尺的距離也并不是一件難事。商店和各座大樓也都采取了一定的防護舉措,比如:不用跟門衛說話,電梯也有載客限制,諸如此類。這段時間我就是這么過的,所以感覺還行。

你的工作量下降了多少?

和往常相比下降了大概75%到80%,甚至85%。我盡量每天接兩單工作,有時候多些,有時候少些。

我的大多數老客戶要么現在不在紐約,要么處于居家辦公的狀態,所以我還沒見到過他們。我還通過Wag(一款遛狗應用程序——譯者注)按需提供遛狗服務,這部分客戶我也不認識。他們大多都是宅在家里,而我不會亂問些七七八八的問題。

那些不在紐約或者居家辦公的客戶會繼續給你付錢么?

他們想付錢,但我沒要。

對于業務下滑你有多擔心?現在的收入只有正常狀態的20%到25%,這份工作還能干下去么?

現在的收入對我來說是夠的,因為我很節儉。生意好的時候,我存的錢也比較多,再就是目前也不用交房租。這也是我沒有申請經濟援助的原因之一,因為收入足以支撐我的開支。只要不動我的存款就行,這就是我現在想要維持的水平。所以對我來說,只要能達到這一水平,我都不會有什么問題。

但我相信很多人,尤其是那些兼職擔任遛狗師的藝術家或者學生,他們中可能有些人不會回紐約了。

大約18個月前,我為紐約的寵物保姆和遛狗師創建了一個Facebook小組??雌鵠茨切┮的詰睦先嘶茍莢詮ぷ?。大多數人的工作量都下降了70%到80%。我覺得現在最難熬的實際上是那些剛入行的新人,他們基本上失去了所有的客戶和收入來源。

新冠疫情期間,紐約的狗文化有什么變化嗎?

變化還是有一些的。紐約人愛狗,也許每個人都愛狗。經常有人會過來逗逗你牽著的狗,跟狗狗玩玩,也不會問東問西。我還記得3月初有一次,一位女士摸了摸我牽著的狗,她的表情好像在說:“啊,別擔心,我剛洗的手?!蔽揖醯靡怯腥訟攵汗吠?,如果拒絕的話反而挺奇怪的。不過,現在人們不像以前那么喜歡逗狗了,但是如果你是牽著兩條狗出去遛,每條狗都用3英尺的繩套牽著,那就正好是6英尺了。

愛狗人士還是會和狗一起玩。在麥迪遜廣場公園附近,雖然狗狗公園關閉了,但是人們會把狗牽到草坪上,那里有一小片區域現在成了小型狗狗公園。所以人們還是可以和狗一起玩,只不過可能不像以前那么頻繁了。

現在,你跟養狗人士聊天的話題有什么變化么?

我覺得現在除了疫情好像也沒什么可聊的。別的事大家好像也不太上心,在紐約尤其如此。疫情影響著生活的方方面面,甚至連星巴克開不開門都得看疫情發展情況。太不一樣了。

即使是和我男朋友,我們聊的也都是疫情的事。這個話題現在真的是已經聊爛了。

這段時間你在遛狗時碰到過什么奇怪的事么?

我是亞裔,對亞裔來說這段時間挺煎熬的。我有個華裔女性朋友,她比我還慘。她最后離開了紐約,離開前她是在SoHo區服務,她說自己在那里每天都會收到差評。我只從幾個腦子不好的客戶那里收到過差評,這種情況挺少見。現在,天黑以后我也不出門了。以前晚上人多,還挺安全,但現在不一樣了。不過現在人們也開始慢慢走出家門。封城的頭4個禮拜街上幾乎空無一人,現在出來的人漸漸多了起來,商家也陸續開門營業了。

這次疫情對你個人有什么影響?

老實說,我是個很內向的人,對工作的熱情也一般。只是因為喜歡才做了遛狗師。撇開新冠疫情不談的話,空空蕩蕩的街道和不用排隊的感覺也不錯。我挺享受這段空檔期,不過我也希望生活能早日回復正常。街角的小意大利餐廳剛剛開門,所以我們就想,“現在是上午10:30。我們應該點個披薩慶祝一下?!?/p>

你認為新冠疫情會徹底改變遛狗師和寵物保姆行業么?還是會回到疫情前的狀態?

這個問題問得好。從紐約遛狗師的角度來說,我覺得有很多客戶其實可以在家工作,他們日常工作比較靈活,如果想離開紐約也完全可以。所以就行業的變化而言,還是要看有多少客戶不再需要寵物照看服務,也要看封城期間寵物收養者的情況,以及有多少潛在遛狗師會就此離開這座城市。我覺得市場會出現一次重新洗牌,但最后所有的問題都會解決。我聽說2008年(經濟?;┖笠卜⑸撕艽蟊浠?,不過可能也沒這次的變化這么大。但我覺得對于享受奢侈服務的人來說,2008年發生了很多變化。我覺得高收入群體最后還是會回來,對他們而言,雇人幫自己遛狗仍然是劃算的。

至于那些在疫情期間收養了寵物的人士,暫時還沒看到他們有什么照看寵物的需求。通常來說,很多人喜歡在12月份抱養小狗。所以一般在1月和2月會有一波“小狗潮”。現在的好處在于,狗狗都被主人帶著出來了,如果我愿意的話,完全可以在保持社交距離的同時跟他們聊聊,看看他們在疫情過后會有什么需求。(財富中文網)

譯者:梁宇

審校:夏林

Before COVID-19 upended New York City, Jen Tserng, a pet-sitter and part-time fitness instructor, worked seven days a week, walking dogs and caring for pets in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. Her pet-sitting business, which she’s been building since 2012—and since 2016 in New York—is so reliable that she doesn’t even have an apartment: she simply moves house-sitting gig to house-sitting gig.

“My goal was to just not pay rent and house-sit," says Tserng about coming to the city four years ago. “I didn’t really think it would work out, but it has.”

When the pandemic struck, she and her fitness colleagues were out of jobs. Her pet-sitting and dog-walking business, which is considered an essential service in New York, has taken a significant hit too, though Tserng has continued to work through the pandemic and in some ways, even enjoy it.

Fortune spoke with Tserng for a new series, The Coronavirus Economy, about how the pandemic has affected her income, her thoughts on the future, and how she has been handling work.

This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Fortune: What was your job like before COVID-19?

Tserng: Pre-pandemic, I was working seven days a week. I pretty much had work whenever I wanted it. I’d have to actively schedule time off if I wanted it. A typical day, I would probably have about 10 to 15 appointments. Some dog walkers only do the vacation stuff like cats and then some people only do the Monday through Friday. Some of us do all of it. My workload was probably about 60% Monday through Friday, daily walks, and then about 40% vacation visits.

What I like about the vacation stuff is that your major holidays are going to be pretty much the busiest time of year. So Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Christmas, Thanksgiving—those are going to be the busiest times of the year. If people do more of them Monday through Friday, dog-walking grind, that’s going to be more consistent and similar to a regular work schedule. So I like both the consistency and the variability in doing both of those.

When did the virus start affecting things for you?

COVID first started to impact the business around mid or late February because more companies were sending clients home to work, and they didn’t need as much of the Monday through Friday stuff. I would lose maybe one client a week. They’d say, “Oh, I’m working from home now so you don’t need to come.” And then, of course, once New York’s stay-at-home order and the worldwide orders started happening, all the vacation visits were canceled.

That must have been scary since you don’t have a permanent home. Did you have a place to go?

Thankfully, I have a boyfriend, and he’s been very accommodating as far as staying with him. I have thought about what would have happened if I hadn’t been dating him. Some of the work that we pet-sitters in New York have right now is watching cats in particular for people who’ve fled the city. I think a lot of the dog people who left the city took their dogs with them. But there’s a few cats around that still need care. And I feel like if I didn’t have some place to go, then probably one of my regular clients hopefully would let me stay at their place. Or I could have gone home to stay with my family in Ohio or something like that.

Are there precautions you’re taking because of the virus?

I’ve been mostly going off what the buildings are recommending, which honestly hasn’t been a lot. I still do face-to-face handoffs with some clients, I just wear a mask. And I wash my hands more frequently. I don’t use gloves. I have always used my own leashes.

For me, I’m thinking if a dog were to have the virus on it that would mean my client was sick and they were shedding COVID onto the coat of the dog. I just think that whole chain of events, while hypothetically possible, is unlikely. There are definitely dog walkers who are afraid of that. For example, people who take dogs into their homes, some of them are giving the dogs baths and taking other precautions. I think I’m a little more laid-back about it.

When New York issued its stay-at-home order, what did that mean for your business? Was dog walking allowed?

There was a little bit of confusion as to whether we were essential workers. Now, dog walkers are officially included in the list of essential workers. Some of us have clients who work in health care who are still working. I have a client that I picked up who works in bonds, so she’s actually busier than she was pre-COVID, and she likes to have someone come and take the dogs out so she can finish her work. So we have always been essential. I know a lot of dog walkers who have decided to close down anyway, maybe because they live with someone who is high-risk or they’re scared or they commute on the subway. I can walk to my service area so I never shut down, but some people have.

The first two weeks after the order went into effect, because people didn’t really know what to expect, it was a little unnerving being out there. I’ve been going out every day, so I feel more comfortable with it now that it’s been two months in and realizing that people in the streets are not really coughing and are wearing masks. I think it’s relatively easy to stay six feet from other people. All the stores and buildings have certain things in place: I don’t really have to talk to the doorman, they have elevator capacity rules, things like that. So I feel okay about it now that I’ve been doing it for a while.

How much was your business down?

I would say I was down to about 20% to 25% of my normal volume, maybe even like 15%. I’m trying to do an average of two visits a day, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Most of my daily clients either left the city or they’re working from home so I haven’t seen them. I also work through Wag, which is on-demand walking, so I don’t know those clients well. A lot of them are home, and I don’t ask.

Your clients who left the city or are working from home—did they continue to pay you?

They offered, but I didn’t accept.

How worrisome is the drop in business for you? With 20% to 25% of your normal revenue, will your business be able to survive?

For me, that’s enough to pay my bills because I’m very frugal. When business was good, I had a relatively high savings rate. Of course not paying rent helps with that. That’s part of the reason why I haven’t applied for assistance, because I have been making enough to cover my expenses. As long as I’m not dipping into my savings, that’s the level that I’m trying to stay at right now. So for me, I’ll have no problems reopening whenever we get to that.

But I believe that a lot of people, especially if they were working in the arts or if they’re students and they walk dogs part-time, I imagine some of those people won’t be coming back to the city.

I started a Facebook group for New York pet-sitters and dog walkers about 18 months ago. It seems like the people who are more established, they’re still working. Most of us have gone down to about 20% to 30% of bookings. I think it’s the people who weren’t established, who basically lost all their clients and all their sources of income, who are struggling more.

Has the city’s dog culture changed in this time of the coronavirus?

It is a little different. New Yorkers love dogs, maybe everyone just loves dogs. A lot of times you just get people just coming up to the dog and petting them and not asking or anything like that. I remember specifically, it must have been in early March, one woman reached out to pet the dog, and she’s like, “Oh, don’t worry, I just washed my hands.” I thought it was really strange to say. Like, I just don’t want you to touch the dog in general. Now people are not as likely to do that, but also if you have two dogs on a leash, and three feet of leash on each side, that’s six feet.

Are conversations with dog people different now?

I feel like you can only talk about the coronavirus. There’s not really anything else that is relevant, especially when we live in the city. And pretty much everything that we do is based on that, even if it’s something like, “Is Starbucks open today?” This is so different.

Even with my boyfriend, we talk about the coronavirus every day. You’d think we’d be sick of it by now.

The people who want to be sociable with dogs, they’re still making it happen. Around Madison Square Park, now that they have closed the dog parks, people are taking the dogs into the lawn areas, and they’re just having their own little dog parks there. So people are still socializing their dogs, maybe not as much as before, but they’re still doing it.

Have you had any strange dog-walking encounters during this time?

I’m Asian, so it’s not a great time to be Asian. I haven’t experienced that as much as one of my girlfriends who is also Chinese. She ended up leaving the city, but she said daily in her service area of SoHo she was getting comments. I’ve only gotten comments from a couple crazy people. It’s not by any means a regular occurrence. I also am not out after dark, because I feel that safety in numbers is no longer there. But people are starting to come out again. The first four weeks after everything closed, it was a little empty around, but people are starting to come back out; businesses are starting to open back up.

How’s the pandemic been for you personally?

I’m actually very introverted, and I don’t necessarily like working. I’ll do it because I like what I do. So I actually kind of enjoyed having these pretty empty streets, not having to wait in lines, I mean, global pandemic aside. So I’ve kind of enjoyed the breather, but I am looking forward to life getting back. Little Italy on the corner just opened up, so we were like, “It’s 10:30 a.m. I think we need to have pizza to celebrate.”

Do you think this will change the dog-walking and pet-sitting businesses for good, or will it go back to what it was before the pandemic?

That’s a really great question. I feel like as dog walkers in this city, a lot of our clients have the ability to work from home, they have a lot of flexibility with their schedules, and they have the opportunity to not be in the city if they don’t want to be. So I think things will eventually shake out between the clients who no longer need care and also the people who have adopted an animal during lockdown and then potential dog walkers leaving the city. I think there’ll be some reshuffling of the service areas, but I think it’ll all work out. I hear that after 2008, things were a lot different, probably not this different. But I feel like a lot of things changed in 2008 as far as people using a luxury service. I think the higher earners will come back, and it’s still going to be worth it for them to pay someone to walk their dogs.

I haven’t seen any requests yet from people who adopted pets during the pandemic. Generally, December is a popular time to get a puppy. So we had a little bit of a puppy boom in January and February. The nice thing about it now is if I wanted to network, those dog owners are out with their dogs, so you can kind of have a socially distanced conversation with them and see what their needs might be after this.

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