Dog Days with Tom + Captain
Tom (man) and Captain (dog) are quickly making a name for themselves around the bubbler at your local park. The charm of the duo is obvious: they love what they do. It’s reflected in their brand, the raving customer reviews (wagging tail meter: 10/10) and their impressive number of social followers.
We asked Tom a few questions on his booming business and what’s next for the most popular dog walkers in town.
What was the ‘let’s go for it moment’ of starting Tom + Captain?
To be honest I was kind of at a crossroad with my desk job and having a dog in my life was very important to me really but I knew if I got the breed (Weimaraner) I wanted it wouldn’t be fair to the dog. And so, rather than finding a dog that could work around my job, I decided to try find a job that would work around my dog. And literally, the business is built around my dog Captain… actually he’s a 49% owner as any more the power may go to his head.
What is day in the life of Tom and Captain like?
Captain and I always start off with a coffee where he sits on the seat opposite me at the café and we plan which team members are walking which dogs.
We pick up the first group in our adventure vans and as each adventure is completely dependent on what the dogs love we group like minded dogs together. There may be miniature Sausage Dogs with Great Danes or old Labradors with Jack Russell puppies for example as each dog may be different but have the same likes.
Why do I love it? I get to spend the day with my best mate Captain, a good solid crew and most importantly some really awesome dogs. We are outside in all weather all day everyday exploring off the beaten track on urban adventures, where even after 2 years of adventuring we are still finding areas of Melbourne that I never would have discovered if I were doing anything else. It’s a lot of fun watching a group of dogs play around and be silly together, wearing each other out.
Dogs have a very important place in our family groups, regardless of whether we live in the inner city or on a suburban block. Do you see inner city living being an obstacle for owning a dog?
Absolutely not! In our experience we’ve found that having a dog actually encourages people to get out and about. Most of the time, our customers (the dogs) already go on at least one morning or evening walk even on the days we’re taking them out. There is such a high demand for dog walkers in the inner city; it’s mostly just to give the dogs an opportunity to socialise.
That’s why when we take them out, we try to avoid just going around the block a few times. We do it a bit differently making sure we consider what each dog loves to do whether it’s going for a swim in the river, rolling in muddy puddles or just hanging out with other dogs. There are so many parks, beaches and outdoor spaces within a sticks throw of the inner city, it’s just a matter of figuring out which adventure is going to be the most fun for each dog!
Having a dog, much like a child helps to break down social barriers, as it’s very easy to spark up conversation with someone when you have something such as a dog in common. Before Captain was around, I only really engaged with my own social circles, whereas nowadays I could be in park and pretty much tell you every dog’s name, where they live and their likes and dislikes.
Having a dog encourages you to engage with the community, whether it’s using communal spaces or just having something to talk about. I feel it’s helps to enhance the feeling of engagement and belonging.
As a dog adventurer (or walker), we are lucky to be part of so many dogs lives and get to know each individual dog just like someone in their family, however more like the fun uncle or aunty.
We don’t just take the dogs for a walk; we like to take them on adventures so when we take our clients (yes our dogs) out we ask ourselves (and them of course) what would they love to do, the muddier, and dirtier you get the better.
We give the dogs and opportunity to get out and about in a more relaxed environment to help socialise them in a group setting, usually with a mix of all different personalities, shapes and sizes. We help to build their confidence, get them utilising their natural pack instincts and of course encouraging them to play outside rather than playing on their ipad or playstations all day. If the dogs are snoring in the back of the van on the way home, we know we’ve done our job right.
We let the dogs make the decisions, and of course Captain runs the show! It’s literally all about the dogs – if you were to think to yourself “if I were a dog what would I like to be doing right now whilst my mum and dad are at work” … would I prefer to be lying at home chewing on the couch or running into a river chasing other dogs, we think the answer is quite simple. Our aim is to make the dogs happy, and as a result their owners are happy.
Our branding plays a significant part of representing our personality. But not just the graphics, it flows onto our social media as well. We’ve made a conscious effort to ensure the Tom and Captain brand is not complicated, simple and straightforward, conveying a message in the simplest form possible, just like our business.
We love dogs, love hanging out with them and we have fun in what we do. Simple.
We’ve got a few big projects in the pipeline, really focusing on the experience for existing and potential new clients but continuing on with the adventure theme. We’re working really hard to grow our brand recognition and have a few projects working collaboratively with like minded businesses to help build our presence. Can’t give away too much, but watch this space.