Dog walkers an ‘essential service’ to Marbleheaders

Dogs line one of the buses CC Paws uses to pick up and drop of dogs that participate in their daycare program. Photo by Spenser Hasak

Chances are you have seen the CC Paws van, or “Creature Concierge,” driving around town. After all, it is hard to miss a van with roughly 60 dogs strapped into seats tooling around the streets of Marblehead and Swampscott.

CC Paws, short for Creature Comforts and Pawsitively Marblehead, offers the concierge service for pets coming and going from their doggie daycare — collecting them at the beginning of the day and dropping them off after daycare.

The company also employs a fleet of dog walkers, who will come to your home and walk your dog(s) in your neighborhood for half an hour. The company charges $24 per visit for regular customers during the week, and $29 per visit for weekends. Non-regulars are charged $28 for walks during the week, and $33 for weekend walks.

Owner Erin McCarthy explained that of the 30 staff members employed by the company, half do “some aspect of dog walking.” They have a handful of full-time walkers, but most are part-timers who can set their own schedules.

Walkers range from college students to retirees, and the number of walks each employee offers per day varies, McCarthy explained. Some opt for just a few walks per day, while those looking to earn more money request as many walks as they can.

But, she said, one thing unites all the walkers.

“They’re really in it for the love of the dogs,” McCarthy said. “Even if it means they work one day a week for us and they get to hang out with dogs one day it’s a fun thing for them.”

McCarthy estimated that an average walker does about six per day, but the company tries to tailor its schedules to match those of its employees, part of an effort to make sure they are getting “as much or as little out of this as they want.”

The company offers exclusively solo walks, meaning they do not walk groups of dogs from multiple households together, said McCarthy.

While CC Paws walks dozens of dogs each day, McCarthy said there are more dogs in Marblehead than any one person or company could walk.

“Whether it’s us as a company or a kid on your block, there’s a ton of dog walkers around and it’s needed,” she said.

Marblehead has long been a dog-friendly town, and McCarthy pointed out that the number of dogs in town increased in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when it seemed just about everyone brought home a “pandemic puppy” of their own.

“We’re very fortunate to be in the town that we’re in,” she said.
McCarthy explained that dog walkers are primarily plucked from personal recommendations and past or current clients.

“Every once and a while we might do a little bit of recruiting but for the most part, our staff has come from people we know,” she said.

Jean Fogle, a local artist, is among those dog walkers who take shifts with CC Paws. Fogle walks dogs three days a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

She said she began walking dogs when CC Paws “had an opening” and has continued to do so ever since.

“We’ve always had cats, would love to have a dog but now I have other people’s dogs,” she said. “We get to have a lot of dogs but we don’t have our own. I don’t know we just never have done it yet. It’s great. Love it.”