Tim Pink’s Pack Mentality

On a recent Wednesday morning, a small crowd gathered around the steps of Adirondack Trust Company on Broadway to watch Saratogian Tim Pink work his magic. No, he wasn’t breaking in to rob the bank, or promising to lower our ever-climbing interest rates. He was merely standing on the steps—standing on the steps in the middle of 15 unmoving dogs, that is.

For those familiar with Pink’s work, this was nothing new. Formerly known as the Saratoga Dog Walker, Pink has been walking packs of incredibly well-behaved dogs around downtown for some 12 years. His claim to fame? Posing them in notable Saratoga locales and getting them all to look at the camera for a photo. Like a still life, but with dozens of living, breathing, easily distractible canines. And 15 dogs is child’s play; Pink’s record is 46 four-legged friends in one photo.

How does he do it? The answer reveals all the work Pink puts in behind the scenes.

Pink Pup owner Tim Pink says posing his pack of dogs like this is a training exercise. “They’re practicing sharing space with each other, which, for a lot of dogs, can be a big issue.” (Photography by Shawn LaChapelle)

“We get that a lot: How are they so well behaved?” he says. “I wish I had a quick answer for you. It’s a lot of training, a lot of patience. I read the body language of the dog so that I’m always aware of how each dog is feeling.” While all the public sees is Pink and his pack walking around town or the pictures and videos his team posts on social media, the dog whisperer is actually constantly working with each pup on sitting, sharing space, duration and impulse control—all the skills necessary to, yes, get them to sit like that.

And thanks to the recent purchase of a five-acre farm in Gansevoort, complete with 12 fields and 10,000 square feet of heated indoor space, Pink has expanded his midday pack program into an all-day social club. (Interested? Don’t wait—there’s a waiting list.) After picking up the dogs in vans—a service for which doggie daycares typically charge a pretty penny—Pink and his team meet up for a mid-morning pack walk before heading over to the farm for playtime and training. Dogs are separated into three groups by size, and always supervised by staff who are engaging with and training the dogs in as well-rounded a manner as possible. “We try to strike a balance while helping the dogs live their best life,” Pink says. “We make sure they’re getting mental stimulation and getting their physical energy out, but we’re also not sending the dogs home completely exhausted so that they just sleep until the next morning. I really wanted to differentiate from calling it a daycare because what we do is so different and so extra. So that’s why we landed on calling it a social club.”

“A large percentage of my clients now work from home,” Pink says of post-pandemic life. “But they’re either like, ‘My day is so busy, I don’t have time for the dog’ or they’re smart enough to realize that their dog is a lot happier coming out and doing what we’re doing instead of sitting there and getting a little bit of attention through the day.”

That’s also why this year Pink decided to rebrand Saratoga Dog Walkers as Pink Pup. “It didn’t feel right to keep calling it Saratoga Dog Walkers when we’re doing so much more now,” he says. The name change also makes sense given the fact that Pink’s brand has expanded far beyond Saratoga; while he had social media followers from all over the country and world in the early days, his Instagram and TikTok accounts really took off following features on The Dodo and The Kelly Clarkson Show, Pink Pup now has 385,300 followers on TikTok and 76,700 on Instagram. A video of Pink petting each of the dogs in his pack from April racked up 15.5 million combined views after one pup’s head rub was stolen by the dog sitting next to him. “It was so funny to open up social media and see this hashtag #JusticeForBandit,” Pink says. “Comment after comment was #JusticeForBandit, so of course we had to do a follow-up video.” Spoiler: Bandit got the pet he deserved.

While Pink’s mission is to help the dogs he works with live their best lives, he’s also using his vast social media following to help dogs he’s never even met. “Our new merchandise initiative helps feed shelter dogs,” he says of his online shop that carries shirts, hats, leashes and other accessories for both humans and dogs. “If shelters don’t have food, they have to put dogs down. So for every item that’s purchased through the online shop, 20 shelter dogs get fed a meal. And if an order reaches 100 dogs, I’ll double it to 200. Hopefully we’ll have some sort of viral moment where people get on board with the mission, and we’ll really be able to feed a lot of shelter dogs.”

Pink is also thinking about dressing up as Santa, like he did last year, for one of his pack walks this December. He may not have reindeer, but he has his dogs. And in the Pink Pup pack, everyone’s on the nice list.

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