I won’t actually post pictures of my furry clients because I think that would be odd and unethical and I won’t use their names for the second of those two reasons, but here’s what I can tell you about professional dog walking:
It’s hilarious and I love it.
My first client is a little old lady shepherd mix who is sweet as can be and that soft, too. She’s got an awful lot of fur and if she’s tired of walking she’ll stop dead and give me the side eye. Scratching her head and telling her she’s doing a great job gets her moving again, dainty little paws carrying her barrel body down the path. She isn’t very big, but she’s too big for me to comfortably lift off the steps and carry inside when she’s worn out in the middle of the stairs and lays down. Telling her she’s a good girl and then squirting her feet with my water bottle gets her up the rest of the stairs.
Next up I have had the pleasure of trying to walk a little Scottie.
His eyebrow hairs crack me up, but he’s not much of a walker. He gets on my nerves, actually, and I quite literally had to tug him along for most of our “walks.” The way he’s groomed little wavy furs hang down over his legs and when he walks, it looks like he is scuttling along like the Pac-Man ghosts. Thankfully I’m done subbing for the Scottie’s walker and won’t volunteer to take him out again. What a headache. Plus, he lived on the top floor and the hallways aren’t air conditioned.
Then there was the
wolf large shepherd mix I walked once.
His client file said he was shy, but I didn’t think it would take almost ten minutes of rattling his food bowl and dropping treats on the floor to get him to come downstairs from hiding in his mom’s room. When he did slink down the stairs, I was pretty sure this “dog” had eaten the dog I was supposed to walk. Turns out no, this was him. Call me Nanook of the North.
Side note: The wolf’s house was the one I was trying to find when I inadvertently almost broke in to someone else’s. The one address I was looking for seemed to be the one house that didn’t have an address above the door. Fortunately, the mailman was walking past at just that moment; unfortunately, I had already tried the front and back doors with the key I had and upset the rather large dog who lived there. Turns out I was on the wrong side of the cul de sac. Not my best day.
For the last two weeks I walked a little terrier mix. He’s some kind of highland terrier and he’s about the scruffiest little pup I have ever met, and a darling to boot. He’s bow-legged and walks so slow that I would pretend we were shooting a commercial and walking in slow motion, just so the dog could keep up. On the really hot days we sat on his favorite park bench for part of his walk, and on the way home he stared up at me now and then as if to ask “how ya holdin’ up, lassie?”
In the Disney version of Peter Pan, Nana the nurse-dog is portrayed as a St. Bernard but in the original story, she’s a Newfoundland, like this:
One of my new favorite clients is the Newfie I walk semi-regularly. Well, I should say the Newfie whose house I go to semi-regularly. She’s not much of a walker and I have feeling that if I was 200 lbs. and covered in fur, I wouldn’t be much of a walker on 105* days, either. Mostly we go out for potty breaks and a short jaunt down the street, during which carries her end of the leash in her mouth and walks herself. She’s gentle as can be and is trained to shake for treats, which means the first time I squatted down to give her a piece of dried liver, the pontoon-sized paw that came at me seemed to move in slow motion and I flung the liver at her while scrambling away. Now I just set her treats on the floor for her to nibble at will. This suits both of us.
Somewhere in there I met the three tiny sister dogs that I’ll be walking on an as-needed basis. All three would fit in my purse at the same time. My biggest concern with them is that as my belly gets bigger, I won’t be able to see them all the way down there on the floor and we could have some sad paws. I’ll tread lightly and hope they are following me most of the time.
And finally, there’s the dog whose file calls him a “60 lb. male mix.” Really he’s bigger than Dietrich so I put him at 80 lbs. at least and he is indeed male and a mix of who knows what. Based on his coloring and the shape of his head I’d say there’s collie in him, but some of his fur has shepherd-like texture and he’s very broad. He also has cataracts, which makes me just want to squeeze him and love him forever. He’s a great walker and his mom always leaves a pitcher of cold water in the fridge.
Last week I did a pet sitting job in addition to my walking clients, which means I gave the dogs their breakfast and took them out for a morning walk instead of a midday walk. These dogs were soft as can be and so wonderful–both young golden retrievers–but it was obvious they were home alone for the first time, as the huge piles of poo on the carpet and the “gaaaah! someone came to see us! i’m soooo excited!” piddle puddles indicated. One of the dogs was on an antibiotic and I was less than thrilled when he spit out the pill and his sister gobbled it up in the blink of an eye. I was even less thrilled when my hand slipped off the paper towel with which I was scrubbing the carpet and I collected nails full of dog shit. So much of this job is preparing me for parenthood, I just know it.
And there we have it, the first three weeks of clients. Dietrich is enraptured with the smells on my pants when I come home from walking and I’m pretty sure he’s hoping that I’ll bring the tiny dogs home in my pocket sometime. I probably wouldn’t notice if I did.