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From Leashes to Layups: How Dog Walking Shaped My Journey to College Basketball

Updated: Oct 31, 2023

Hey there, fellow dog lovers and aspiring entrepreneurs! Today, I want to take you on a journey through my life, exploring how my passion for dogs and my determination to start a dog walking and boarding service at a young age has helped shape the person I am today as I head into my senior year of college.

On a joy walk with one of my long lasting clients, Nimbus

It all started when I was just a young kid, desperate to have a furry friend of my own. I of course asked my mom, who at the time was being practical, said no. She didn't want the added responsibility when I was with my father, so no four legged friend for me. I could have easily given up, but that's something that my household never does. Instead, I channeled my determination into something else- starting my very own dog walking business. After all, how could I resist combining my love for money and dogs? Not me, that's for sure!

At the age of 9, armed with a stack of flyers, I embarked on my entrepreneurial journey. I wanted to offer a unique service, where each dog would receive special one-on-one care and attention. My furry friends deserved more than being dragged on a 20 minute walk with two other dogs attached to their leash. It was at this moment dog walking and boarding service was born, The Dog Whisperer.

As the word spread, I gained 15 recurring clients, and I couldn't have been prouder of my little business. Through this venture, I learned valuable life lessons that go beyond just walking dogs. Allow me to share some of the key lessons that have stayed with me to this day:

1. Responsibility: Taking care of other people's pets taught me the importance of being accountable and reliable from age 9.

2. Time Management: Juggling school, sports, and my business taught me the art of time management, a skill that continues to serve me well.

3. Communication Skills: Interacting with clients and understanding their pets' needs honed my communication skills and ability to follow instructions.

4. Empathy and Compassion: Working with animals taught me to be more empathetic and compassionate, not just towards pets but also towards people.

5. Problem-Solving: Dealing with different dog personalities and challenges taught me how to think on my feet and find creative solutions.

6. Financial Literacy: Managing my business finances introduced me to basic financial concepts, which proved useful in everyday life.

7. Patience and Persistence: Handling dogs with all sorts of behaviors required patience and persistence, traits that helped me overcome obstacles in other areas of life.

8. Trust and Reliability: Building trust with clients was crucial for my business to succeed, and it has translated into earning trust in my personal relationships too.

9. Entrepreneurial Skills: Running my dog walking and boarding service provided a glimpse into entrepreneurship, which would later influence my career aspirations of going onto Shark Tank.


As I grew older, my days became more hectic with school and sports commitments. However, I still made time for my beloved dog walking service during family vacations when people needed someone to care for their pets. It was a responsibility I cherished and a testament to my maturity from a young age.

Now, fast forward to my college days, where my life took a new turn. I found myself navigating the challenges of being an Asian Jewish three-sport athlete in high school, and how this experience ultimately led me to play division one basketball in college. Stay tuned for my next post, where I'll delve into the ups and downs, the triumphs and troubles, and the invaluable lessons learned from dog walking that helped me conquer every obstacle in my path.

So, whether you're a dog enthusiast, a young entrepreneur, or someone navigating the trials of college life, I hope my story resonates with you. The lessons I learned from starting my dog walking and boarding service have become the building blocks of my character and have influenced my journey to where I am today. Keep an eye out for my next post, where I'll share the rest of my story and how these lessons helped me become the person I am today. Until then, keep wagging those tails and chasing your dreams!


Nina Karlin is a student athlete at Bryant University, currently pursuing a degree in entrepreneurship. After establishing her own business at the age of 9, she has worked for four start ups and small businesses honing her social media management skills. Karlin's aspiration is to one day present her innovative product on Shark Tank. Karlin was a part of the US women's basketball team that won a gold medal at the 2022 Maccabiah World Games in Israel.


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