London's Number One Dog-Walking Agency: A Memoir (Hardcover)

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London's Number One Dog-Walking Agency: A Memoir (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews


Kate MacDougall’s memoir is bright, funny, and endearing. After losing her job at Sotheby’s in London (possibly involving a broken antiquity), Kate decides to open a dog-walking service in London. After all, she’s always loved dogs.

More than just a story about dogs, this is the story of a young woman’s transition from clueless twentyish youth to adulthood; moving from love to marriage to parenthood to a mortgage. Her life unfolds through the stories she tells of all the dogs she has walked and their owners.

Each chapter begins with a particular dog, giving name, age, location, and the total number of dogs walked. We meet not just the dogs, but their owners as well as the people Kate hires to walk them as her business grows. The dogs are wonderful characters throughout, but owners and walkers are always the sticking point. From the owner of a Chocolate Labrador who insists that his dog must Never Get Wet (no puddles, no ponds in the park and absolutely NO MUD) to a walker who kidnaps the four legged client while the owners are on vacation (the neighbor next door was an inadequate dog sitter), Kate moves from naivety to assurance in both business and life.

— Karen B.


“ Sparkles with humor, joy and wit. London’s Number One Dog-Walking Agency bounds along with the energy of a rambunctious pup and exudes the wisdom of a beloved canine with an old soul (you know the type)." — BookPage

The irresistibly charming memoir of a young woman who started her own business as a dog walker for London’s busy, well-heeled dog lovers. A true love letter to London, dogs, and growing up. 

Aside from the odd biter or growler, the occasional bolter and the one dog who didn’t want to walk, the canines were the easy part. They were a muddy, messy joy in all shapes, sizes and breeds, from greedy Labradors to pampered pugs and everything in between. It was the owners who were the real challenge, a giddy mix of the over-protective, the clueless, the eccentrics and the perfectionists. There is no rule book on how to navigate the obsessions of the London dog owner. A degree in human psychology would have been far preferable to any sort of animal qualification. Not that I had either…

In 2006, Kate MacDougall was working a safe but dull job at the venerable auction house Sotheby’s in London. After a clumsy accident nearly destroyed a precious piece of art, she quit Sotheby’s and set up her own dog-walking company. Kate knew little about dogs and nothing about business, and no one thought being a professional dog walker was a good use of her university degree. Nevertheless, Kate embarked upon an entirely new and very much improvised career walking some of the city’s many pampered pooches, branding her company “London's Number One Dog Walking Agency.” 

With sharp wit, delightful observations, and plenty of canine affection, Kate reveals her unique and unconventional coming-of-age story, as told through the dogs, and the London homes and neighborhoods they inhabit. One walk at a time, she journeys from a haphazard twentysomething to a happily—and surprisingly—settled adult, with love, relationships, drama, and home ownership along the way. But, as Kate says, “It’s all down to the dogs” and what they taught her about London—and life. 

Kate MacDougall is a writer and journalist who now lives in rural Oxfordshire with her family. She writes features for publications including Country Life, the TelegraphHorse & HoundHomes & Antiques whilst also wrangling three small children and two disobedient dogs.


"Readers will be delighted... This entertaining and lighthearted look at the life of a woman who took control of her own future is a perfect nonfiction crossover for fans of British chick lit like that of Sophie Kinsella." — Booklist (starred review)

“It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me long for a dog! Incredibly moving, very funny and wonderfully wise, this is a brilliant debut memoir and a beacon of hope when we need it most. I shall be recommending it to everyone I know, dog-loving or otherwise.” — Annie Lyons, author of the bestseller The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett  

“This is a glorious treasure of book starring a cornucopia of canines and their hapless humans. It tickles the funnybone and tugs at the heartstrings. Hugely entertaining.” — Ruth Hogan, author of the bestseller The Keeper of Lost Things

“A joy from start to finish. I loved it.” — Stacey Halls, author of The Familiars

“With gentle humor, this charming coming-of-age story captures the ups and downs of a young woman defining life on her own terms…warmly uplifting and wise.” — Kirkus Reviews

“ Sparkles with humor, joy and wit. If MacDougall is as skilled with dogs as she is with a pen, it’s no wonder her agency became number one. London’s Number One Dog-Walking Agency bounds along with the energy of a rambunctious pup and exudes the wisdom of a beloved canine with an old soul (you know the type). ”BookPage

"MacDougall's fun, brisk storytelling and cleverly rendered details largely focus on growing, improving upon and sustaining her business. However, philosophical undercurrents profoundly define how work--and canine companionship--can enrich the soul and spirit, ultimately giving shape and form to living a more meaningful existence." — Shelf Awareness

"A really lovely book for dog lovers."  — #1 international bestselling author Jilly Cooper