On a recent weekday, the forecast called for scattered rain showers, growing heavier in the afternoon. But, rain or shine, one thing is certain: Indoor dogs must eventually go outside.
Victoria Priest operates a one-woman enterprise known as Furever Fit Dog Walking and Pet Sitting. After pulling her car into a parking place on High Street in the Bluff View Art District with three companions -- Jack, Betty and Bella Booski -- she attached leashes to them. Jack and Betty are dogs belonging to a regular customer, and Bella is a teacup Shih Tzu that belongs to Priest.
"I take Bella Booski with me on every single walk," Priest said. "Not only does she get along with pretty much every single dog and animal that I've looked after, she is so relaxed that it helps.
"I work with a lot of rescues. They can sometimes be nervous. Her having such an even-keeled, relaxed energy or mood about her, it helps [the other dogs] relax. ... She's a good teacher."
Priest and her furry trio headed off along the sidewalk, sniffing away as they passed tourists, joggers and other people walking dogs. As she walked across the Walnut Street Bridge, another walker asked if she could take a photograph. Priest and her canine companionsgladly posed.
Meanwhile, the rain began to fall, gently at first. As the rain picked up, Priest and her pals turned around and headed back to her car. Jack and Betty are among Priest's most well-behaved clients, she observed.
"It totally makes sense that I'm doing what I'm doing," said Priest, who is also in school to be a yoga instructor or guide. "I have always loved walking places. That was my means of transportation by choice for the longest time, and I've always loved dogs."
Priest says she treasures the relationships that she develops with both the dogs and their owners.
"People love their animals. When you get to look after them, it's an instant connection. ... I feel like a good friend and a good dog walker."
About her job, she says, "Everything has its ups and downs. I can't say I prefer to step in dog leftovers, but I get to be outside most of the time, walking.
"I love adventures and [the dogs] love adventures. We call them 'new sniffs.' We get to go get new sniffs and have fun adventures every day. ... I get to play with dogs and [other] animals, which reduces stress. ... They are good teachers for us."