Portrait of a Dog Walker is about a man who traded in a high-stress life in London finance to follow his dream of spending his life with dogs instead.
Matt Hein gave up his fancy Savile Row suits and the Brazilian mahogany office he had for five years, to operate his own dog-walking business in Oslo, Norway. In the process he discovered a good life for himself by following his passion for animals and nature.
“You had to get in the morning before your boss and you had to leave after your boss, because that way your boss thinks you’re working much harder than you are,” he says of his former life. “It’s a competition for who can be sat at their desk, pretty much wasting their life for the most time. That’s not a way to live your life.”
He decided to change directions and now finds his bliss walking dogs in the Norwegian woods. An epiphany of sorts for Hein, things are much different now since he took himself off the leash.
“It’s so rewarding to be able to take dogs that otherwise would be inside whilst their owners are working long days— eight, nine ten, maybe more, hours. And these dogs, they love it.”
Filmed by 21-year-old Norwegian cinematographer Fredrik Harper,Portrait of a Dog Walker chronicles the bearded Englishman’s decision to leave his job and head for the French Alps.
He began dating a Norwegian woman and followed her back to Oslo. That didn’t work out. But he stayed, realizing his two great passions: Being outside and being around dogs.
The few dog-walking businesses in the Norwegian capital limited themselves to small city parks and seemed to be taxing for both the canines and their walkers, Hein noticed.
“I thought, wow, there’s an opportunity here. I’d love to be out there five days a week,” Hein says in the short documentary. “I basically get paid to be an adventurer and hang out with dogs.”
Now, he takes his white van and drives a pack of several dogs out to the wooded nature parks outside the city and hikes all day and plays games with them. He lets them off the leash so they can run and play, getting some fresh air and sunshine in the woods and snow. If they are on a leash, it’s a very long one– unlike the shorter leads of the more urbane dog-walking couture.
Hein has no regrets getting outside and off the leash himself.
“It’s so easy to think in our heads, ‘Oh, I can’t do this because I’ve got this and I’ve got that,’” he says.
“No. Just change.”
by Skippy Massey
This post originally appeared at the Humboldt Sentinel. Reprinted with permission.