Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Dog Walkers Not Wanted: Her Job Evaporated When People Stayed Home

As a dog walker and pet sitter, Beverly Pickering relies on people not being home.

In fact, 70% of her business relies on people traveling. She's usually busiest during this time of the year — near Detroit, where she lives, lots of folks head out for spring break or to shake off their winter blues.

Instead, she's down to a few clients who are still paying her even though they don't need a dog walker. That, she says, is the thing that has kept her from panicking even as she's having flashbacks to the Great Recession, when she lost much of her retirement money.

"To go from working ... 16 hours a day to ... I worked two hours today. That's something I'm having a hard time adjusting to," Pickering says. "I'm trying to spend as much time outside as possible, because that's where I am all day normally ... spending time with these animals, who are so blissfully unaware of all of this. Everything that makes them happy still makes them happy."

In Pickering's garage, there's a stack of shingles she had bought to patch a little hole in her roof that occasionally leaks into a bucket underneath. But she had to cancel on the roofer — an unsuspecting victim of the travel decline.

"The shingles, trim, nails [are] just waiting for the day when they can come out of the dark and start their new life out in the sun ... just like us," Pickering says.

Read more stories in Faces Of The Coronavirus Recession.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alina Selyukh is a business correspondent at NPR, where she follows the path of the retail and tech industries, tracking how America's biggest companies are influencing the way we spend our time, money, and energy.