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Not just a dog walker: meet the gentle human and real boss behind 716 Dog Pack

An up-and-coming business owner offers Buffalo's busy pet parents the very latest in dog care and training, along with an inspiring story for young entrepreneurs.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Some of the stories we love to tell the most on Most Buffalo involve inspiring people, entrepreneurship and a big love for furry friends.

We found all of that in Sarah DeMerle, who is the founder and leader of 716 Dog Pack.

Sarah found a way to make her passion her profession, bringing her love of animals and her knowledge of the very latest in dog care and training together to help humans and their four-legged friends live better lives.

Recently, Sarah was gracious enough to allow photojournalist Franco Ardito and Most Buffalo's Kate Welshofer to join the pack.

"This isn't just dog walking," she said. "There's so more much to it than just a walk. They learn basic manners, they learn how to calm their energy down."

This may just be the future of care for busy pet parents -- quite literally a step up from dog daycare. Sarah gets a lot of looks walking around Buffalo-area neighborhoods with as many as a dozen dogs.

She also gets a lot of comments about how calm they all are. That ease is part of what makes 716 Dog Pack something special.

"They learn how to interact with people, with dogs that come across from a distance, which is important. It's like school."

And like school, the dogs get picked up like kids on a bus. Sarah arrives in her van at each home, picks up each dog, they all walk together for an hour, then she takes each dog home again. She does this with several different packs several times a week.

Sarah's business started gradually. A job at the University at Buffalo paid the bills while she cultivated her part-time passion project until she was eventually able to take the leap and make it her full-time job.

"I started as a dog trainer, and then slowly became a behaviorist and started to go into people's homes and help them with their relationship with their dog," she said.  

She's constantly learning and studying, and it shows in the inspiring relationship Sarah has with her charges. It's clear they trust her and enjoy their time with her and with each other.

She explains there's a special moment during each walk when they all hit their stride and everyone is in sync.

"It's so quiet. It's so beautiful," she said.

Sarah also offers opportunities for pack hikes, one-on-one training and even dog sitting.

She's on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and you can also learn more about Sarah and the services she provides and how much they cost on her website 716DogPack.com 

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