Enjoying new scenery in Old Town


Six months ago, Ellen Epstein swapped the rat race of Manhattan for a dogs life in Alexandria and she hasnt regretted it for a moment. I came to visit an old friend who was here last July. I was walking past Market Square on a sunny Saturday afte

rnoon. I watched people carrying sunflowers and walking their dogs and knew I had to live here.   Two weeks later I put a deposit on a condo and put my New York apartment on the market. I quit my job as a graphic designer in Soho and left the big city for the real world as fast as I could.

Epstein decided to focus on doing the things that she enjoys in her new life and so has started a dog walking and pet sitting business, Old Town Pups, in Alexandria. She knew she was taking a risk.

My friends told me I was crazy to take such a big step at the age of 54. I was born in New York and had lived just about all of my life there. But having just gone through a difficult divorce and working 15 hours a day, I thought it was now or never.  So far, the risk seems to have paid off. There is often a cat or dog staying in her apartment and every morning she walks along the parks by the Potomac River with her miniature Schnauzer, Hannah, and the other neighborhood dogs in her charge. Breathing in the fresh air and stopping for a coffee at the Firehook bakery, she cannot believe her luck. Just a few months ago, an early morning walk meant a quick trip to the small, foul smelling, dog park near her apartment in Brooklyn. 

Now Ellen has time for a more creative lifestyle and attends pottery and stained glass making classes at The Art League. As her dog walking business grows she is also designing cards and web sites for friends and for small businesses including her own.    Not surprisingly, given her background, Epstein has one of the best websites in the dog walking business, www.oldtownpups.com. I have time to enjoy life here. Old Town is a beautiful place to walk around and I love the atmosphere. Everyone seems to love dogs.  Hannah and I enjoyed Yappy Hour in the Courtyard at the Holiday Inn on King Street and I met many of my first clients at the Halloween dog costume celebration that is held there every year. And thats a New Yorker talking.

For Ellen Epstein, her new life in Alexandria gets better every day. Now when friends from New York come to visit her, they too are stunned by what they find. My move has made many of my friends rethink how they liveI wouldnt be surprised if a few more New Yorkers decide this is the life for them.