June 3, 2019
Rover-Time first hired Katie in July 2015. At the time, she was brought on to oversee a route we had in Uptown and after a year together, I began looking for ways we could work more closely together. I saw immense amounts of potential in Katie and most appreciated her patience and integrity at work. It’s very obvious to me that she cares deeply about people’s happiness, whether they’re an employee or a customer of the company. Her ability to be that bridge that important relationship is invaluable to our growth, stability, and future here at Rover-Time.
I’m excited to feature Katie this month. But first a thank you. Katie, you’re so wonderful. You calm so many of my storms. I’m most thankful for the amazing work you’re doing in the field with our team of dog walkers. They represent us as well as they do because you took such pride in training them. Thank you for all you do, all that you give, and all the ways you show that you care about us.
Julia: What’s the most important achievement you hope to accomplish in your current role?
Katie: In my current role, I co-manage Rover-Time’s service area with fellow Team Manager Brock to make sure the day moves smoothly for everyone. Most walkers have a second job or family obligations that they have to juggle with their daily route, so there are definitely days when things change quickly and employees need more support.
In the past some employees have voiced the opinion that this management team is their favorite that they’ve ever worked under, and while I can’t take credit for that whole compliment I feel proud to be a part of such an important impact on someone’s life. I just hope to continue to support our employees and provide a great environment for them to work in.
Julia: What can you share about your work and management style?
Katie: I feel like I work best when I find the best way to be organized. I have an enormous planner that I use daily to help me plan. My job revolves around a schedule that can change quickly and can be busy, which can sometimes require me to plan out my day in 40-minute increments (or less). Being able to prioritize tasks in order of importance is also a very important skill in my role.
As far as management style goes, I just really strive to be a manager that I would like to work under. The best managers that I’ve had in my life cared about each employee. It’s important to keep in mind everyone’s schedules, to check in when needed, and to adapt to different employees’ learning styles.
Julia: What qualities do you look for in new hires that join your dog walking team?
Katie: Since we all work remotely, it is ultra-important new hires can communicate thoroughly and have a quick response time to messages. Love for animals for sure, and a sense of integrity and desire to make human clients feel satisfied with their service as well. Experience with dogs is a great plus but isn’t necessary, we will teach you lots of great tips and tricks!
Julia: What are the hardest parts of this job that sometimes takes new employees by surprise?
Katie: There is a certain “feel” to the routine of dog walking that is a lot different from conventional jobs. I find that on Day 1 of training, different trainees have a varying range of how quickly they are able to get their bearings, as this is a job filled with a TON of small details. Quickly popping in and out of people’s homes while they aren’t home can feel unusual at first. Mastering the pace of getting a dog in and out of the house in 25 minutes (the length of most of our walks) tends to take a few tries.
Something else that I’ve noticed surprises new employees is that even if you’ve grown up with dogs, there is still a TON of new information to learn about their behavior. I found myself surprised by how much I didn’t know about dogs before having this job, which makes me reflect on the fact that it would be very beneficial for the general public to learn more about them as well.
Julia: What are some small things that make your day better or easier?
Katie: Days with great weather are a true blessing when you have to be outside to work. Also days where the whole team gets together are a treat. It’s always a great day when you are a person who loves dogs and you get to talk to 10 other people about loving them too.
A fun thing I’ve been doing over the past couple months is acting as my boyfriend’s “handler” at Comic Cons. He enjoys cos-playing and recently made a costume for a droid from Star Wars. Being an ambitious man, he went for as close a resemblance as possible. Which means he wears stilts to be 7 feet tall, wears semi-functional robotic hands, and wears a helmet that provides a limited scope of vision. So I help him get everything on and tell people when they’re standing too close to him (since he can’t see them) and help him get around. But people LOVE his costume, and he worked really hard on it, so it’s been a ton of fun to help with.
Julia: It has been a long and horrible winter. So tell me, what are you looking forward to most this summer? What’s going to spark Katie’s joy?
Katie: The city truly comes alive in the summer, and I think it’s pretty glorious. When the weather gets warm you can feel people coming out of their cocoons and give an exhale when they feel the sun on their faces. So even that is a joy to me.
I have some fun plans with family & friends to look forward to. Next weekend I have a friend coming to see me from New York who I don’t think I’ve seen in…4 years? It’s hard to count. Later this month my boyfriend and I will go to a Comic Con in Milwaukee, and I’ll go to the Pride Parade. I also have an annual camping trip I take to Canada with my family & friends that I’ve been going on more or less continually since 2005.
Julia: Tell us about where you grew up, what your home life was like, and how your family has impacted who you are today.
Katie: I grew up in Warren, MI, which is a suburb just north of Detroit. The house I grew up in was on a quiet cul-de-sac where we knew everyone. We had a jelly bean shaped pool in the backyard that I loved. I always wanted a dog and my parents finally caved when I was 9, and we got two! Their names were Coco (a whippet mix who was very stoic) and Brandy (a chihuahua mix whose favorite things were naps and burrowing under blankets).
I feel like I’m pretty close to my parents. The vast majority of people who meet my Mom will insist I’m her twin. We share the same facial expressions and loud cackle laugh. She was the primary breadwinner growing up and I would say is a great example of a bad ass woman. While my Mom worked my Dad stayed home to take care of me, and he is probably the most sincere person I’ve ever met. He is a lover of the “little things in life” and I really try to be too. I think something I subconsciously learned from both my parents is that it’s important to love your family and friends with your whole heart.
Julia Rohan founded Rover-Time in January of 2012 and received her formal training at FetchFind Academy, a program for aspiring dog trainers, based in Chicago. Julia lives in Irving Park with her husband Mark. Together they co-parent Archer, their 4-year old son, Lou, their 6-month old, and Chauncey Billups Vanderhoff, an over-confident, territorial, and anxious 8lb. Chihuahua-Terrier mix. All the boys do a decent job of melting her heart hourly.