James Beagle has always loved dogs. His grandparents had two border collies and his own family had a boxer.
Early on, Beagle, who’s now 50, learned that these creatures make a mess. His job was to scoop up the poop from the backyard. He didn’t mind.
But he did mind being bored. So when the Toronto-born Beagle first went to university and found the courses too similar to those in high school, he dropped out after a year and worked in security.
And met up with dogs again. During a training session, his new bosses suited him up in protective gear and put him in a cage with vicious dogs. He learned that they’d run if he ran away, but would cover if they advanced on the dogs. (The skill came in handy many years later.)
Beagle began working in the hotel and restaurant industry, where he learned a lot about working with people.
But he longed to work outside, and work for himself. He came up with the idea of scooping dog poop out of backyards as a business. He asked his friends and family if they thought it was a good idea. “Nobody would ever pay for that,” they said.
Undeterred, he got friends to ask around and soon found a few busy families who had no time for their dog poo.
Beagle went to work in 1985, scooping in yards in the daytime and working in restaurant and hotels at night. After raising his rates (it used to be as low as $6 a week) and getting some media coverage, five years into his business Beagle was able to quit his other job and focus entirely on Super Scoopers.
He works five days a week, and begins his day by checking his email and dealing with bills and scheduling. He then heads out in his truck with his bichon frise Boo Boo. Beagle goes directly into a client’s backyard and uses gloves, a scoop, a paint scraper and a bucket for the job.
Beagle stores the dog waste in the back of his truck and then in freezers in his garage. He disposes of it every few days at a waste disposal station or sewage treatment plant.
He can clear a yard he’s familiar with in as little as five minutes. “I already know the hot spots.” Boo Boo sometimes helps find the hidden gems.
Diane Peters once hawked magic pens at the Canadian National Exhibition. She’s now a writer and part-time journalism instructor.