Walkers About Town
Chicago Dog Walker’s staff is made up of a number of passionate individuals who are currently pursuing careers in art, music, writing and more. Here are just a few of their noteworthy events in Chicago:
Santiago Weksler has been with Chicago Dog Walkers for about 6 years now. He is originally from Peru where he studied animal management in college. When he first came to the United States he worked as a vet tech for 3 years. His other passions are photography and poetry. He has exhibited his photographs at University of Illinois at Chicago and at a gallery in the Pilsen neighborhood.
Exercise, tanning on sunny days, and respect for animals who respect her, Bobbi Doran enjoys dog walking. Midwest monsoons and whiteouts aside, she has difficulty complaining about the job even after six years. Following employment that disregarded her courteous and dependable efforts, playing with dogs offers a relaxing atmosphere she believes many jobs lack. Most of her stress-and it’s welcome stress-comes from playing tournaments in a women’s bowling league. She has won patches for bowling a 200 game during a tournament, for being seventy-five pins above average, and other accomplishments. Her compassion and reliability not only make her a spectacular mother of three and grandmother, but a favorite walker, and we hope she stays part of the Chicago Dog Walkers family for six more years and beyond.
We love our jobs at Chicago Dog Walkers, but Michelle Lewandowski may love hers a smidgen more than the rest. Employed with us since 2001, she holds the title as our most experienced dog walker, and before working with us, she walked dogs for another company. An unparalleled loyalty to animals, she hates missing work and disappointing doggies who rely on her daily care. Her five dogs, two whom she adopted after being their walker, can attest to her doggie devotion, as do the paws tattooed on her ankle. The job has helped support her family for years, but the pay, the hours, and Chicago Dog Walkers are not the chief reasons she walks dogs; she walks them because she cannot imagine working with better clientele.
Brian Varchmin joined Chicago Dog Walkers after majoring in theatre at DePaul University, and quickly gained our respect by befriending a skittish and seemingly unpleasant rescue dog. Weight lifting, bowling, playing chess, he has an eclectic assortment of hobbies that keeps him involved around Chicago. Ask about Brian the dog walker in Old Town, his favorite neighborhood, and someone is sure to know of him and his great sense of humor. If you find him there and are up for a friendly challenge, he’s quite the card player too. Theatre is never far behind him, as the city allows him plenty of opportunities to see shows, spend time with friends in the business, and work on playwriting.
Brenda Johnson makes up half of Grandpa vs. Grandma, the blues-infused rock band she started with her then-boyfriend, now-husband, Henry; the couple romantically eloped to Nashville this past April. She drums, a skill she acquired playing the game Rock Band and later refined after purchasing her own drum set. She is an avid runner also, and has progressed from early days of track and field to completing marathons, and she plans to run a triathlon soon. For some information on Brenda or Grandma vs. Grandpa, you can follow the band on Facebook and download their first EP for free on Bandcamp. We look forward to seeing more venue marquees light up with her band’s moniker.
A drummer for the rock ’n’ roll band GreenSugar, Patrick Luby has played a variety of venues, in places including Kansas City, Green Bay, Michigan, right here in Chicago of course, and a memorable AquaPalooza celebration of people relaxing in boats and swimming while listening to music. He enjoys traveling and making new connections but loves coming home to friends, the Bears, the White Sox, and a big city that maintains Midwest hospitality. While he has no plans to move soon, he hopes to return to previous venues, as well as to visit more cities, where he can perform and share his passion. You can sample his talents by purchasing GreenSugar’s self-titled album on iTunes or perusing their website (www.thegreensugar.com).
Born and raised in the suburbs, George Tapling moved in to the city two years ago and has become a compleat Chicagoan. No longer needing a car everywhere he goes, he spends his days on his bike visiting all his doggy clients. He goes to college at night…majoring in business. George is a rabid Chicago Sports fan. He loves the White Sox, the Bulls and the Black Hawks. He only has tepid feelings for the Cubs, however. Hmmmm. We’re going to have to work on that if he’s going to continue walking in the Lakeview, Wrigleyville area!
Brandon Wilner comes to us from South Carolina, where it’s warm. We’re not sure why he would make such a move and we wonder if he has all his gray matter intact. Just kidding! We love Brandon and we’re very glad he is a part of Chicago Dog Walkers. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a degree in English. When he isn’t walking dogs, he writes for two Independent Record Labels and is trying his hand at fiction. We know he’ll be a huge success soon…making up all kinds of stuff about dog walking!
Evan Lindorff-Ellery hails from Vermont. He moved here because the mild New England winters gave him no challenge! In addition to his passions for dogs and weather, Evan is a zealous sound artist composing experimental music using acoustic instruments, nature sounds, electronics and other elements. Notice Recordings is the name of his label. The blog for the label is noticerecordings.blogspot.com. Take a look! Also (didn’t know how to get this in there) Evan’s father is a Jungian Dream Therapist and shaman – available for consultations. So, you see, Evan comes by his love for animals naturally!
After working as an accountant for four years directly out of college, Adam Leggero decided he’d had enough and would pursue his interest in the martial art of Jiu-Jitsu. He still needed to support himself, of course. So he decided to pursue his other great interest and walk dogs. Lucky for us! Adam works out regularly at the Gracie-Barra Academy on the North side. He also competes all over the Midwest – always placing in his competitions. We feel very fortunate to have someone so dedicated and disciplined to walk your doggie.
Chicago native Megan McCoy has been with Chicago Dog Walkers for about 2 years now. She is a confirmed vegan and a certified nutritionist. Her passion for good food has led her to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago. She plans to become a professional chef upon graduation. In the meantime, she loves riding her bike in all weathers to see her doggie clients!
Laura Cowell worked as a theatrical set designer and scenic artist for many years before coming to Chicago Dog Walkers over four years ago. She designed and painted for dozens of theatres all over the country including the Santa Fe Opera, the Boston Opera Theatre and the New York City Opera. (Yes she did meet Beverly Sills!) After returning to Chicago she received a Jeff award in 1991 for her set design of Broadway Bound. She then used her skills to move into special events and spent several years as one of the owners of Millennium Events here in Chicago. Her encore career helps her pursue her painting which includes highly detailed pet portraits.
A native of the Kalamazoo area, Ian Phillips came to Chicago to attend Columbia College where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Film and Video. He has been a part of a number of small, independent films. In addition, he was part of the production team for Transformers 3 filming in Chicago this past summer. He is putting the finishing touches on his first feature film, Ninja Janitors, for which he is Writer, Director, Producer and Actor. Just think! When you see him receiving his first or even tenth Academy Award you can say “Hey, he used to walk my dog!”
Chicago Dog Walker, Derek serves a double life, so to speak. By day, he is Derek, but by night he is Lee Chameleon, singer and musician for the band Lee and Willbee. They have had a song featured on the show, One Tree Hill, and after being on Qatar’s QBS Alternative Rock Top 40 for 14 weeks, in March they made it to number 1! For more information about the band, please visit www.leeandwillbee.com.
Suns is a six piece band hailing from Chicago, IL with a sound as big as their name suggests, and melodies that blend and bind as harmoniously as a dual sunset. Suns includes Chicago Dog Walkers Matt Lemke (second from left), Mike Russell (third from left) and Kody Nixon (third from right). Look for them on Facebook!