The first time Tamara stepped foot in New York City was in 2009. A 10 day trip while she was working with an exchange program. That was when she knew she was home.
She had seen a poster at her college in Serbia. It said: “Summer trips, work at swimming pools…I was very interested!” She told me. When she called up the program, they explained that from the beginning of May to the end of September, she would be provided with a job in the States. That was when her and her sister signed up and moved to Maryland, beginning their Summer as lifeguards.
“I saved a kid once.” Through the whole interview, Tamara was upbeat and warm. You could tell there was something about her that stood out: a type of pure enthusiasm for everything she puts her mind to.
Her rescue happened when she first started working. After taking a test, and getting settled in the position, a kid wandered into the deep end during a swim-party. “It was super scary!” She said. She jumped in, “…pulled him out, [and] another lifeguard was waiting to help on a side. He was fine!” I was glad to hear it!
It was during her time in the program that she took her 10 day trip to New York City. That trip sold her, and in 2010 she moved back to “…try to make it…” Not an easy task! But she told me she had always wanted to work with dogs. She has one herself!
“People used to make fun of me because I would feed and play with dogs on the street.” Tamara told me that then, in Serbia, there weren’t a lot of resources for rescuing dogs. Her own pup, Tari, was a rescue she brought over from home. It was when Tari had to have surgery that Tamara decided to pursue her love of dogs, and she started applying to dog walker positions.
When she applied to NYC Pooch, she told me the application was engaging and fun. And her personality really shown through: the hour after pressing “send,” there was a reply waiting for her in her inbox.
Tamara works with her pups full time, splitting her route between East 49th and East 65th, and Gramercy to Delancey. I asked how she managed such a large chunk of the city. She laughed: “I guess by planning the route the best that I can, knowing the transit well and …running!” Being an affective dog walker takes keen time management and organizational skills. Even if you have to sprint to make it happen! And Tamara is a boss when it comes to getting the job done and done right.
But when she isn’t dog walking, she enjoys some dog hiking with Tari and her husband! “My favorite [place to go is] not too far from my house…a huge area around Willow and Meadow Lakes in Queens, Corona Park.” But she also loves learning to play her piano keyboard, and sing. I asked her about her music and singing, wondering if she had any recordings. “No, no, none of that!” She laughed, still energetic. “It’s more just for me…It was my life wish to learn to play [the keyboard] once.”
Tamara was a delight to talk to, and her deserving Dog Walker of the Month was obvious. The dedication to her route, work, and passions came through immediately: as I am sure those of you who are lucky enough to have her walk your dogs have noticed in her Pup Reports! “I love this job. This is the first time in my life that I am this happy.”
When she was nominated for this month’s highlight, a perfect word was used to describe her: Awesome.