Author: Lauren

Phase 1 Re-Opening Update

Dear Harmonious Hounds Family,

We hope that you and your loved ones are well and starting to find some sense of normalcy in all of this mess. We are reaching out with an update on our services as we navigate this new world shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As phased opening commences in MA and across the country, the world we’re re-entering is a different and more complicated place than the one we left behind.  There is a great deal of uncertainty within the dog walking and pet sitting fields specifically, with many clients continuing to work from home into the foreseeable future and with many avoiding travel due to safety concerns.  Other high-risk individuals are, understandably, still not ready to have people in and out of their homes.  We as a company have struggled with some very difficult decisions and have been forced to pivot drastically to survive in the “new normal.”

Social distancing requirements gave rise to our first evolution – we have shifted all of our dog training services to be entirely online.  We have been successfully teaching live group classes and holding private consultations through digital meeting platforms, like Zoom and Facebook Groups, since early April. We’ve found many advantages to this approach and will continue to offer a portion of our training classes and several hybrid classes in this format, even once all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

As for in person classes and private training, we have reached out to the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards (DLS) to seek clarification on when in person group classes can resume and with what restrictions.  Unfortunately, dog training is such a niche service that it is not addressed directly in Governor Baker’s reopening plan.  We are hopeful that we may be able to resume classes – respecting all necessary social distancing and other health precautions – later this summer.  We will be sure to let students know as soon as we can meet again; in the meantime, check out our online training options!

Our truly agonizing decisions have been in regard to our pet care services.  With business grinding nearly to a halt throughout the pandemic and little hope for a return to previous levels any time soon, we have come to the disheartening conclusion that we will need to scale back considerably in response to the changing demand for services.  We will have fewer staff and have to minimize their travel in order to keep the business viable. Effective immediately, we will be retracting our service area to be focused more locally; primarily New Bedford and the surrounding towns.   Accordingly, we will be discontinuing all walking and pet sitting services to the following locations:

  • Berkley
  • Marion
  • Mattapoisett
  • Rochester
  • Westport
  • West Wareham

Additionally, travel fees may apply to some addresses outside of the new service area who we could previously service without charges; we understand such surcharges may not be tenable for some clients.  It absolutely breaks our hearts to have to part ways with so many amazing clients and dogs, and it has been our absolute honor to serve you over the years.

We will be sending out individualized emails to those walking and pet sitting clients who will be directly impacted by these changes over the next few days and processing refunds for any prepayments remaining on your accounts.

For those in our new service area interested in resuming regular walking service, we will be emailing you a form directly to be completed online to reinstate service (if we somehow miss you – please reach out!).  Even if you previously had recurring visits or just “as-needed” with us, you will need to complete the form, as all schedules have been suspended.  This form will also review our new safety protocols and your role in ensuring health and safety.

Non-essential service will be available as early as Tuesday, 5/26.  We will evaluate staffing for availability upon receipt as we always have. Bear in mind, however, that our manpower is limited more so than ever, so we may not be able to honor all requests.  We appreciate your patience and understanding as we attempt to get back up on the horse and keep riding.

As always, we are most readily available by email or text for questions.  Please continue to stay safe and healthy and give all of the pups and kitties we are missing a cuddle and our best.  We hope to be seeing some of them soon!

Warm Regards,

Lauren & Tim



COVID-19 Check-in

To our Harmonious Hounds Family:

First and foremost, we hope this message finds you, your family, and friends in good health and spirits.  The novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is looming large over our lives and we are seeing disruption in ways most of us have never imagined.  We want to reach out to each and every one of you during this difficult time with some assurances and updates as it relates to our business and services.

First, several important notes from the professionals:

  • Dr. Robin Patel, Director of the Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory at Mayo Clinic, takes the position that people do not need to be cooped up inside all day, as long as they are being smart and cautious when they go out and not congregating in groups.
  • The Center for Disease Control has found no evidence that companion animals, including dogs and cats, can spread COVID-19.  Read more on that topic here.
  • According to “Exhibit A” of Governor Baker’s Shelter in Place Advisory, “Organizations and workers responsible for the care and custody of animals, pets and livestock” are considered an essential service.

At this time, based on this guidance from professionals, we will continue to provide dog walking services to clients who need us, with careful provisions in place to ensure safety for staff and clients alike:

  1. Staff with any signs of illness or contact with anyone who is ill will not be providing service.
  2. We will only be employing a skeleton crew (2-3 people) – with the same person providing service for your pets each week, whenever possible.
  3. We will be using our own equipment (harnesses, leashes) to walk dogs; we will be using biothane leashes, which can be easily cleaned and sanitized on the run.
  4. Walkers will be washing their hands, and sanitizing their keys, leash, car, and phone between each visit, as well as using face masks.
  5. Walkers already avoid others while out with your dog for safety, but will consciously be employing the 6-foot social distance rule until further notice.

We welcome clients who need us to maintain their service for the consistency of routine and wellbeing of their dog(s); even if you are home (as long as your household is healthy – please just notify us if you are employing quarantining measures!).  If you are home during walks, we have some special requests of clients to minimize the risks that come along with human-to-human contact:

  • We will text you as we’re arriving so that you can have your dog geared up and ready to roll.
  • Where possible, we encourage outdoor pick-ups: You can either (a) put your dog out into your fenced in yard – assuming there is direct access via gate, or (b) put your dog out on a tie out or back-tie; we will text again on our return for a similar no contact drop-off
  • Alternatively, we can provide a limited contact pick-up for clients who are home; please have the door unlocked and maintain at least 6-feet distance from the walker if you are present while they are picking up or returning your dog

We recognize that some of our clients are deemed essential to our community – doctors, nurses, first responders, and others on the front line of this pandemic.  We are thankful for the risks you are taking for our benefit and want to do everything we can to support you.  In light of that, we plan to make every effort to maintain walking services for as long as we are able.

As it relates to our dog training services, we have suspended all in person group classes, orientations, and seminars through at least May 4th per the state shelter in place advisory.  Starting this week, however, we are excited to announce that will begin transitioning to both live and recorded online training options using the Facebook and Zoom platforms!  Currently enrolled students will be contacted directly with instructions and options for participation.  With so many clients home with their dogs, now is a great time to address training goals since you are better able to provide the consistency needed to build new habits at “the scene of the crime” (your home and neighborhood!).  There’s no need for training to be put on hold or your dog to be driving you crazy while you’re home – we can still help!

We have set up a Facebook group for our clients to continue to connect with us and other community members during this time of social isolation. We will be sharing free enrichment and training tips to keep your dog on the path of progress.

You can request to join the group here:

We know that a lot of people are struggling right now.  The pet sitting industry and our small business have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with most clients canceling upcoming travel and more people working from home or being laid off each day.  We don’t know what the future holds in a post-COVID-19 world, but we hope Harmonious Hounds will still be part of it.  For those who want to support us in this time of need, we would invite you to consider taking the following actions:

  • Continue to book dog walking services, if you are comfortable doing so both financially and health wise, even if you are home
  • Donate tips to be provided to your individual dog walkers HERE, to show your appreciation for exceptional service
  • Purchase gift certificates for yourself, friends, or family for future use
  • Give us a positive review (HERE on google, or HERE on Facebook)
  • Follow or “like” all of our social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram)
  • Comment, like and/or share our social media posts
  • Post positively about us on your social media, and in local or neighborhood Facebook groups
  • Recommend our business to your family, friends, and neighbors
  • Book future services as soon as you are able
  • Reach out via email  or on Facebook and let us know how much you and your pet(s) miss us!

Thank you so much for your continued support – please stay healthy and safe!

Warm Regards,

Lauren & Tim