Dog Walker Hell Week

Dog Walker Hell Week

It's over. I had ten extra walks per day for the last week and a half. It has been a few decades since I have been that bone-tired. Dog walking is manual labor. It may seem like unfettered fun to you cubicle-dwellers, but there's a lot to worry about.

First, every single dog owner has a specific set of instructions that applies to their dog alone. You need to remember all of it. Then, the dog doesn't always WANT to go outside if it's raining or snowing. My dog Amber is like that. She just looks at me like I'm insane and pulls a sit-down strike.

Of course there's the old, lazy dog that suddenly gets a burst of youth and makes a run for it. Always keep a firm grip on the leash. No one was more surprised than my husband and me when this little one dashed off and we had to go chasing her.

Logistics is everything in dog walking. The clock rules your day. You need to be at certain places at certain times and have to map out your strategy for getting there.

Of course as your business grows, you hire people. Then it really gets tough. Like the guy who sat in someone's house and ate a bucket of chicken and left some of the bones and biscuits lying around. The client was a vegetarian, by the way.

There was another guy who thought of himself as a kind of roaming Dick Cavett and would get to houses as the people were getting home from work - big no no - and then have in-depth conversations about country music or the economy. And I'll bet they were great conversations. But you need not to lose your focus: caring for the dog. No matter how much they smile and laugh, they will get angry and fire you if you fail to do this.

That brings up another issue. As a dog walker, you are in the servant class. No matter how jovial clients are, they think of you as the maid. And neighbors delight in watching you and telling the client if you have not picked up poop.

Remember, your clients are the humans, not the dogs. It's hard to remember this fact. You may like the dog more than you like the owner. After a while, though, you will become close to many owners.

The up side is that you get into really good shape and the dogs are always so glad to see you. It really lifts the spirits. They are such sweet little beings and the weather in DC is very mild most of the time, making a nice walk with a dog such a pleasure. I would walk along Rock Creek and think of all the times when I was working inside how much I would love just a few minutes of walking around in that weather. And I do it every day. It is glorious.

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