OAKLAND -- Angela Reily wasn't happy with her previous job.

"I was a customer service rep, sitting at a desk in an office with no windows," says Reily, a native of San Diego.

So Reily decided to chuck it all and take a totally different tack, trekking the trails and parks around the East Bay with her Hiking Hounds of Oakland.

Her dog-walking business -- she now has about 30 four-legged clients -- has enabled her to escape that windowless office and pursue her longtime passion for animals.

"For me, hanging out with a great group of dogs is the best job ever," said Reily, whose stepmother also runs a dog-walking business in Santa Cruz.

"She would tell me how happy she was to be walking outdoors, losing weight and making money!"

The downside? Picking up poop, "lots of poop ... but you get used to it; it's not so bad!"

In 2011, Reily began animal training with Bay Area-based Bow Wow Ventures before launching her own business.

"I've learned an incredible amount about dog behavior in this past year," said Reily, who lives in Oakland but also walks dogs in Berkeley, Alameda and Piedmont.

On a recent hike along the Bridgeview Trail along Dimond Canyon, Reily chaperoned four dogs that were happily scampering off-leash. She doesn't worry about one running off and getting lost.

"Dogs have a pack mentality, they stay together," she said. "However, I won't let a dog off-leash until I'm confident it's going to stay with the pack."


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She said taking dogs out together really helps socialization. Her own dog, Penny, had "aggression issues" before she started hanging with the pack.

One of Reily's customers, Jessica Hopengardner, has experienced this firsthand with her red-nosed pit bull puppy, Reggie.

"Reggie was a serious rescue dog," Hopengardner said. "He was a bait dog for fighting that was rescued at the park."

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For more information, call 510-529-8062 or go to www.hikinghounds.org.