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Brooklyn Dog Runners Business Throws A Bone For Busy Owners, Pooches In Need Of Exercise

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Conrad is ready for his morning run with Brooklyn Dog Runners co-founders Julie Totino (l.) and Mandy McGowan.
Conrad is ready for his morning run with Brooklyn Dog Runners co-founders Julie Totino (l.) and Mandy McGowan.

By Ben Chapmen For

Two East Williamsburg women are turning their love of dogs and running into a career.

Friends Mandy McGowan and Julie Totino founded Brooklyn Dog Runners in September, and so far, business is booming.

Their service is just like a standard dog-walking business, except they run their clients’ pooches instead of walking them.

“Running is really healthy exercise for dogs, and it helps them blow off steam,” said McGowan, 28, who has two cats but no dog of her own. “They love it.”

McGowan and Totino will run any kind of dog, as long as it’s in Brooklyn. So far, they have 15 clients.

The partners run the canines for 30 or 45 minutes, traveling from 1 to 3 miles, and charge about $30 for a half-hour run.

“We let the dog set the pace,” said Totino, 25.

Totino and McGowan still work part-time jobs on the side, but they hope eventually to make dog running a full-time job.

Their business is the first of its kind to serve Brooklyn. McGowan got the idea for it while working as a dog runner at Running Paws, an upper East Side business that has been operating since 2002.

McGowan worked as a part-time runner with Running Paws for two years while she attended the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

She earned a master’s degree in May and applied for about 100 teaching jobs over the summer, but couldn’t get hired. “It’s really hard to get a job in teaching right now,” she said. “I felt like I was going crazy waiting for something to open up.”

In August, she decided to shift gears and open the dog-running business with Totino, then an aspiring jewelry designer with a passion for her Chihuahua, Mylo.

“We love dogs, and we love running,” said Totino, who logs about 25miles each week. “The dogs are getting the same buzz as us.”

Totino’s clients claim their canines benefit from each run.

“My dog, Conrad, is much calmer and more snuggly after he goes for a run,” said owner Sam Armstrong, 28, of Greenpoint, who can’t run with her 65-pound pit-bull mix because of her work schedule. “He needs exercise, and there are many days when I can’t provide it, so this is a great help.”

The benefits of running for dogs mirror those for humans, said Dr. Jennifer Berg, a veterinarian at Animal General on the upper West Side.

“With running, you can improve canine cardiovascular function and keep behavioral problems under control,” Berg said. “Just work up to a running routine gradually, and take it easy if your dog seems tired or sore.”

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