Karen Walks Dogs

East Belfast

When it comes to businesses, we often think of products or physical businesses, but services are a vital part of the independent business scene here in Northern Ireland.

We caught up with Karen Shearer from Karen Walks Dogs whose business provides dog walking and pet visit services in Belfast. Walks typically last one hour and can be in groups or solo.

“I live around the Ormeau/Ravenhill area, which is just a short drive from a lot of parks and forest trails. I walk in Ormeau Park, Orangefield Park, Belvoir Forest and Shaw's Bridge. The variety is great for the dogs and gives me the opportunity to offer my services in a few different areas in Belfast.

Being a dog walker I'm in the park a lot. Ormeau Park has lots of space for dogs to play and the walk around it is really pleasant. The dog owning community in Belfast is such a friendly one, there's always a familiar face or two (dog and human!). The park also has great facilities for people into sports and fitness and there are a couple of play parks for kids so it has something to offer everyone really. It's great having a good park close to where I live.”

When we asked her what her business is known for, Karen said:

“I'm likely known as the short girl that always has a group of dogs attached to/gathered round her. I get to know my dogs really well and I have a special bond with all of them, so hopefully they all know me as their pal that takes them out with all their other pals.”

We first met Karen in 2015 when she worked in a totally different industry - graphic design. However her experience in this sector stood her well as she started up her new venture.

“I used to be a graphic designer and I worked with lots of people getting their businesses and projects off the ground, so I had a bit of a grasp on what I needed to do when I decided on my career change. I designed my own branding, stationery and website and I do everything related to Karen Walks Dogs myself. I really love the freedom I feel being my own boss.”

Karen told us what she loves and would love to see happen in Ormeau and in Belfast:

“I think in Belfast, Ormeau in particular is home to lots of culture and as the area grows in popularity for businesses I'd like to see the diversity of the area well represented and celebrated.

Memento on Ormeau Road is amazing for flowers, plants and gifts. I also did one of their workshops to make a terrarium and it was really fun!

If I had unlimited funds all my stuff would come from Maven on Lisburn Road. Such a stylish range of products and a really lovely atmosphere in the shop. It would be easy to chill there all day, especially now with Coffee And Cactus in the back, a super cool cafe and plant shop. Such a great spot.

For anyone starting a business or project or wanting to improve their branding and visual identity, my absolute favourite local designer is Ronan at Two Digs studio. I worked with Ronan right at the start of my career in graphic design and it was definitely the coolest stuff I ever worked on. His work is always on point.”

Dog walking and sitting services in and around East Belfast and further afield on request.