Will Lane - Tiburon Dog Butler
Tiburon Dog Butler: William Lane
In 2014, when Will Lane founded his Tiburon Dog Butler business, it was because he not only loved dogs, but he also had the extra advantage of understanding their mindset.
This came about from six years of fostering abused dogs at a UK dog charity. “We worked with dogs with severe behavioral problems, helping them adjust to a normal family home,” Will says. “I saw all kinds of dogs and every personality imaginable. That was where I learned so much about dog psychology. Dog psychology is fascinating, with its interaction, hierarchy, body language and movement.”
Although he is acknowledged by his many clients to have exceptional skills in handling their canine pets of all ages, sizes, temperaments and abilities, Will continues to study the subject on his own in order to add to his expertise.
Ever since he was a child growing up in southwest England, Will has had a dog (or dogs). After graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University in landscape architecture, he founded his own landscape design and construction company in 2008.
Some years later, Will and his (then) girlfriend, Caroline, took four months off work and traveled to the Philippines, Hong Kong, Australia and California. “We flew into San Francisco and drove to Carmel, several national parks, the wine country and then to Marin,” he says.
“We really loved Marin County, especially since it doesn’t have as much rain (as England). During the last week of the trip, I bought a ring and proposed, she said ‘yes,’ and we flew home.”
In 2014, the pair rented their house in England, quit their jobs, packed four large suitcases along with their American Bulldog, “Zeus,” and came to Marin, a move made easier because Caroline is an American citizen. (She was born in Puerto Rico when her dad was working there.)
Three weeks later, they were married in Big Sur. Caroline’s sister was Maid of Honor and Zeus was the ring bearer. “He carried the purse with the rings in it in his mouth, and he behaved very well,” Will says proudly.
When Will opened his new business, Tiburon Dog Butler, he decided to take out groups of up to six dogs at a time. “I wanted to give the dogs a mixture of social interaction, mental stimulation and physical exercise,” he says. He also limited his clients solely to the Tiburon Peninsula. “I didn’t want the dogs to be stuck in the vans for long periods of time as we made the rounds of picking each one up,” he says.
He has built his business on integrity, honesty and his great understanding of dogs. Before the coronavirus appeared, he had six full-time employees, seven minivans and had bought the Mount Tam Dog Company from a friend who was retiring.
After being closed down for seven weeks because of the virus, Tiburon Dog Butler is now open again at 60-percent capacity, with the team taking 10-pack walks a day.
Will has a particular formula for acclimating new dogs. He starts out with an “assessment walk” where he evaluates the dog in different situations such as in crowds, with other dogs and in the field. “I always take one of my own dogs with me on these walks,” he says. This means either 90-pound Zeus, 16-pound Pancho or 8-pound Lula tags along.
Will pointed out that Lula is the “boss” of his three dogs. “Size means nothing to dogs,” he says.
All new dog clients must have vaccinations and shots up-to-date before going out with Dog Butler. After getting to know the new dog, Will chooses a group for him/her to join. “There are those with high energy, older dogs and puppies,” he says, “and, of course, we need to have the right balance of temperament in each group. For instance, you wouldn’t want to mix elderly dogs with high-energy dogs in one group.”
He emphasizes how important it is to have the right dog in the right group. “Having one dog who is a role model is helpful in training a new arrival,” he says. “For instance, if a new dog starts acting up, another dog with more experience in the group will act correctly, demonstrating to the rowdy dog how to behave properly.”
Five days a week, three times a day, Will and his employees each take dog packs out, starting at 7 a.m. and finishing around 3:30 p.m. All in all, from pick up to drop off, the whole experience is around two-and-one-half-hours, with 45 to 60 minutes as pure dog walking.
Every van is equipped with a doggy first aid kit, air conditioning, multiple travel crates and an easy step into the doggy van (not hard to jump into pick up trucks). When the walk is over, each dog is carefully inspected for ticks, foxtails and burrs. If any one has gotten muddy or wet, he/she is toweled off and dried.
Tiburon Dog Butler is fully licensed, insured and permitted in all open spaces. All employees are full-time and have been involved with animals all their lives. Each one goes through formal dog training and is required to pass a 90-day probation period working directly with Will.
Prices range from $30 to $35 per walk, with a special discount for clients with more than one dog or for those dogs that take more than one walk a day. Saturdays are reserved to take individual dogs to the groomer or vet.
Will Lane can be reached at 415-413-6178 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.