From Suited to Welly-Booted: A dog walkers guide!

Let me introduce you to my lovely friend Ruth of Digby and Amber fame. Every time we meet for our dog walks, I’m the one with no make up and hair all over the place. Ruth on the other hand is immaculate – every time! But it seems the switch from suits to sensible boots was an emotional journey and she tells us her story.

The seed is sown

“I always wanted a dog. Not just one dog, definitely two and maybe even three.  My parents bought our first family dog when I was eight, a dachshund called Jeeves and we loved him to bits; he was totally spoiled and he ruled the roost. Jeeves died on his 13th birthday and I broke my heart.”

Career versus dog

“I would have loved a dog of my own in my twenties, but I knew it just wouldn’t have been fair. Work definitely came first. I was dedicated to the cause and when senior managers needed someone to stay late to ensure the project didn’t over-run, I always took it on. What sort of life would a pup have had with me rarely at home?”

“My career was exciting and I threw myself into it. I loved dressing the part, being ‘suited and booted’ was essential to the role, and I always wore make-up, even if it meant I had to get up an hour earlier to ‘prepare’ for the day.”

“When Dress Down Fridays were introduced I was horrified! Fine if that’s what everyone else wanted to do, but it wasn’t for me. I continued to dress smartly although occasionally I’d choose something a little more casual – perhaps a v-neck jumper with midi-skirt, all co-ordinating of course, and with heels ever present. My role entailed a two mile walk across the site on a daily basis, but that didn’t stop me from wearing my gorgeous four-inch heels.”

Glamorous boots

“The years went by, early retirement drew closer and all I could think about was adopting my very own dog at long last. He was going to be called Finlay. I didn’t know what breed he was going to be, but I loved doing all the research investigating breeds, their exercise requirements, health issues, etc.”

Cockapoo puppy

At last my own dog

“The day finally dawned when I could buy my first dog. I felt a real mixture of excitement, combined with nervousness having waited so long for this moment. When we saw this little eight-week old apricot cockapoo, my daughter and I looked at each other and said:

No, I don’t think he’s a Finlay.

and from that moment he became our beloved Digby.”

Digby - Cockapoo puppy sleeping

“As soon as Digby came home, we immediately fell in love. He was very naughty with a penchant for chewing our beautiful wooden ornaments. We still have the wooden pig he was particularly fond of, which now only has three legs. Any plants at Digby’s height were seen as delectable food items necessitating playpens to be put round them – indoor and out. And he was a collector, anything from coal to underwear stolen from the washing pile was stashed away in his crate. The pristine home my husband and I had created over the years together now resembled a neglected garden shed.”

“With Digby safely vaccinated, off we went for our very first puppy walk. I dressed appropriately, well, let’s say I dressed as I knew how: a pair of freshly pressed trousers, floral blouse with a pretty necklace, heeled boots – only two inches, after all I was out for a dog walk – and a pale cream winter coat. I felt good, my gorgeous puppy and me.”

Digby - Cockapoo puppy

“In the park I began chatting to a lady with a dog. I didn’t know her then, but we’ve become great friends since. She admitted that as soon as she saw me that day she thought “Good Lord, there’s a woman who’s never had a dog before!” The pale cream coat, the two-inch heeled boots and full face of make-up were the apparent give-aways.”

Ruth with cockapoos

“As I met more and more dog walkers over those early months it became very clear there was a Dog Walking Uniform that was designed totally for the job in hand. This was no place for my glamorous work wear. Out went the pretty blouses, the jersey dresses and, as hard as it was, the four-inch heels were despatched to the charity shop. In their place came jeans, waterproof over trousers, long-sleeved jumpers, padded jackets with hundreds of pockets and, most importantly, the best walking boots I could find.”

“In place of my favourite silver necklace there was a string-tied yellow dog whistle. What was happening to me? Instead of delving  into my Jaegar jacket to pull out a tissue, I was rummaging through button-less pockets to tug out a poo bag!”

Flats are the new me

“Learning to walk in flat boots did not come naturally. Years of teetering on high heels and elegantly crossing my legs to ‘showcase’ the latest purchase, was in my blood. However, flats were the new me and I needed to embrace them. Initially it actually hurt to walk; by wearing flat boots, I was stretching out calf muscles that had been contracted for years. However, I soon learned that running after a naughty puppy was much safer in flats than in stilettos and didn’t require a Risk Assessment.”

Ruth and Geoff wearing the dog uniform
Ruth & Geoff in their Dog Walking Uniforms

“There was only one thing I couldn’t give up and that was the make-up. Some days when I’ve put my make-up on, I’ve stood back and thought:

“You look as if you’re on a night out not a dog walk!”

Maybe it’s the one final thing that connects me to my past working life, maybe it’s just years of conditioning, but whatever the reason it doesn’t matter, the dogs don’t care.”

“Do I regret leaving those glamorous clothes behind?  Not for one minute! Would I have it any other way? Absolutely not!”

Digby and Amber - two happy cockapoos
A joyful Digby & Amber
This clever capture, along with the main feature image, by kind permission of
Christine Willis –

“Amber joined us three years ago and I now have two wonderful cockapoos who complete my world. I walk every day with them, in my Dog Uniform, and meet fellow dog walkers who are easily recognisable even when their dogs are nowhere to be seen. I have made so many wonderful ‘doggy’ friends over the years, all wearing their own version of the Uniform and sharing the same love of dogs.”

Ruth & Amber

“I look forward to meeting you on a dog walk soon. You’ll spot me as I’ll be the one in full make up, wearing old jeans, dirty wellies and a coat splattered with muddy paw prints – and I’ll have a big smile on my face!”