The Dog Walker

An Anarchist's Encounters with the Good, the Bad, and the Canine

From the it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time department: Anarchist Joshua Stephens needed a job to support his relentless activism against the bad guys of capitalist society. So he and some of his fellow activists decided it would be fun to start a business walking the creatures they all agreed were the wonderful opposite of the powerful politicians and big corporate types they spent their days protesting: dogs.

The only hitch: The dogs they were walking were owned by . . . well, the powerful politicians and big corporate types they spent their days protesting.

Rich with hilarious anecdotes, brilliant observations, and a powerful political conscience, The Dog Walker proves Stephens to be an Anthony Bourdain of the dog walking set, adept at detailing the charmingly odd tricks of the trade, and showing what dog walking reveals about everything from gentrification to street harassment, and why radical empathy must always anchor every interaction—canine or otherwise.

An irreverent and perceptive fish-out-of-water story, The Dog Walker is totally irresistible.

JOSHUA STEPHENS‘s writing has appeared in Gawker, AlterNet, TruthOut, The Outpost, Jadaliyya, and Perspectives on Anarchist Theory.

“Stephens coyly admits he has routinely done everything from laundry in his clients’ homes to napping, showering, hosting book clubs and, yes, having a lot of sex…Approaching 40, Stephens has aged out of the full-time dog-walking game, but he has retained a youthfulness in his expressions of rage against capitalism, racism and inequality in all its forms…Ultimately, in his view, we’re all animals trying to get by and find as much comfort in a cold world as we can. And he’s more than willing to hump in your bed to make that point.”

“Documenting a trade that falls somewhere between bike messenger and nanny, Joshua Stephens explores politics and power, equality and class, the essential rhythms of walking city streets, the meaning of work, and the depth of connection available to us if we choose to take part. Part warmth and wag, part snarl, The Dog Walker is sharp, fast, and above all, human.”
Nina MacLaughlin, author of Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter

“Joshua Stephens spent years walking dogs, but more to the point: he spent years looking at the world around him. I am grateful he did, because his observations about how we conduct our daily lives are deeply insightful. Be careful with this book: below the surface, it boils with political fervor and social commentary too often left out of our public discourse.”
DW Gibson, author of The Edge Becomes the Center: An Oral History of Gentrification in the Twenty-First Century

The Dog Walker takes you gently by the hand, artfully guiding you on a captivating journey that appears to be good fun, which it certainly is. But don’t miss the forest for the trees. Take your time strolling. This tale is not so much about pups, poop, or the people who are paid to tend to both—though you’ll find that, too. It’s about what makes us most human, most humane: the politicized, lived practice of empathy. A pure treat, with heart!”
Cindy Milstein, author of Anarchism and Its Aspirations

“With a raconteur’s skill, an anarchist’s heart, and a biting wit, Joshua Stephens regales us with tales of punk bohemia, social issues street philosophy, and dog walking. A hilarious, thoughtful, and engaging slice of life just under our noses—dogs and all.”
Scott Crow, author of Black Flags and Windmills

“A thoughtful, odd, amusing (albeit occasionally precious) fusion of memoir, career guide, and anarchist screed with built-in appeal for millennials.”
Kirkus Reviews