Entrusting Mr. Barkypants, my first-born son, to a dog walker is akin to how I imagine it might feel to someday entrust a less furry child of mine to a nanny: He/She sure as hell better be committed, conscientious, able to survive blizzards*, and love Mr. Barkypants as his/her own. Using this (perhaps slightly unreasonable) standard, I interviewed many, many dog walkers before I found Walks With Zara Chicago Dog Wlalkers, a dog walking company that Russell and his business partner own and operate. Though I haven't yet had to put them to the blizzard test*, it is clear that Russell is an excellent dog walker and human being.
I feel strongly about not having just any random person walk Mr. Barkypants: I've witnessed how some walkers who work at larger operations treat (or rather mistreat) the 5-10 dogs they walk at once. Sadly, it doesn't seem uncommon for some dog walkers, on the north-side at least, to roughly yank leashes or yell and scream at dogs, or to refuse to stop walking to allow one of their charges to use the little dog's room, or to tie dogs up to a post in the park while the walker enjoys a cigarette and long chat with his friends. I am confident that Russell does NOT do this; Mr. Barkypants would probably behave very differently with him than he does.
Interestingly, though Mr. Barkypants isn't terribly fond of strangers and he is particularly non-fond of strangers who are male and who wear hats, he took to the hat-wearing Russell like he took to liver treats from the first or second walk on. Russell has a gentle, quiet, calm, non-domineering manner with dogs (and humans, really). He isn't embarrassed about speaking to dogs in goofy voices -- a talent I quite appreciate. Moreover, wrt his human dealings, too, Russell is prompt and as honest as Abe: He lets us know when he isn't able to walk a full hour (because of severe weather or sickness) and deducts from his pay despite our asking him to take the full amount.
All in all they are highly recommended by us!!