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By Breeana Greenberg

Michael Bass discovered he wanted to pursue dog walking as a career while working at another dog walking company. After spending about a year learning the ropes, he fell in love with the profession and would later start his own company, OC Pup Scouts, in Newport Beach in 2015.

While getting the company up and running, Bass walked through his neighborhood with his friends’ dogs to get the attention of potential clients.

“I would spend every day at dog parks and just, you know, trying to meet people,” Bass said. “I was borrowing friends’ dogs to just like have a pack … something that people would look at and potentially ask me, ‘Oh, what’s this?’ ”

Bass organized meetups and community pack walks to get potential clients to come out with their dog and get to know him.

“It was a lot of just me being out there in the community every single day,” Bass said.

From there, OC Pup Scouts grew, with mobile locations from Huntington Beach down to Carlsbad. Generally, one “pack leader” services each area, which gives clients a chance to build a relationship with their dog walker and see the same face every day, Bass said.

As his family grew, Bass in March 2021 moved his family to Dana Point, and opened a Pup Scouts location in town the following month.

“We love the community,” Bass said. “It’s so family-friendly, and you know all the parks and just dogs walking around everywhere.”

OC Pup Scouts offers one-hour walks, half-day walks, and full-day walks, as well as private training.

“The dog walking is really structured,” Bass said. “We’re not letting dogs just like do whatever they want on this walk. There’s a lot of obedience and skill and training that goes along with it.”

OC Pup Scouts founder Michael Bass and Pack Leader Hope Emenaker walk their packs of dogs through the streets of Dana Point. Photo: Breeana Greenberg

Pup Scouts dog walking is great for socializing dogs and reinforcing positive behaviors, Bass explained.

“It’s great for, like, over-excited dogs who need to socialize and be around other dogs in a very calm setting,” Bass said. “We have a lot of trainers that send dogs to us just to get dogs a little bit more socialized, just to supplement their obedience training.”

It’s also a much more structured environment compared to a doggy daycare, where dogs may be running around, picking up bad habits and behaviors.

“Whereas with us, they’re around all these other dogs, and it’s just very calm,” Bass said. “They’re working together, walking together. So, it teaches them a lot of really great skills that they bring home to mom and dad, and hopefully, behave better.”

After clients set up a profile with Pup Scouts, a team member will reach out to conduct a consultation.

“​​We do a consultation where we meet with every dog prior to having them join with us, and that’s where we talk with the owners about what their schedule is like, and what they’re looking for, and kind of make a recommendation based on the dog’s energy level and their work schedule; how often they get them out,” Bass said.

Pup Scouts requires that clients sign up for a minimum of one walk a week so that dogs can get more comfortable with how to walk in a pack.

“It just creates a much safer environment, when they all know what they’re doing, and it’s not like random dogs coming in and out all the time,” Bass said.

Bass’ favorite aspect about being a part of OC Pup Scouts is getting the opportunity to make passers-by smile at the sight of all the dogs.

“I love, just when we’re out in the community like this, we are making people smile,” Bass said. “To be able to make people laugh and brighten people’s day . . . just by walking a bunch of dogs and them seeing us, that’s a good feeling.”

OC Pup Scouts will be holding its second Give Back Week from Dec. 13-17. Each dog walker has chosen a charity that is meaningful for them and is taking pledges for how many miles they’ll walk throughout the program. Residents can sponsor a dog walker by donating a dollar amount of their choice per mile.

Last year, OC Pup Scouts raised $5,000 for various charities. A virtual sign-up form is on OC Pup Scouts’ website.

OC Pup Scouts

ocpupscouts.com

info@ocpupscouts.com

949.629.0932

Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at bgreenberg@picketfencemedia.com

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