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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Slander! Sort of....

I had a client for about a year (give or take) and I assumed that everything was great.  She never told me that she had any problems with me, I loved the dog, and our professional relationship was as it should be.  Then out of nowhere I stopped hearing from her.  I didn't think anything of it. People don't want to spend the money, their schedules change, they move... there could have been a million reasons.  Then I hear through the grapevine that she got another walker.  I was curious as to why, but never asked.  In a way, I didn't even want to know.  This walker lasted a bit, and she was replaced by another walker.  Then that walker dropped the owner as a client.  The owner then  got another walker who was actually a good friend of mine.  Then she dropped him and called me back to be her walker! This was about 2 years and 3-4 walkers later.  She left me a voicemail as if nothing ever happened!  I still didn't know why she stopped using me, but based off of that as well as what I have heard from the pet sitter community, I decided to keep my distance.

This past week I ran into her previous walker (2 walkers ago) who brought her up.  We had never met, but knew of each other.  She mentioned this client that we had in common and hesitantly said that there were some not nice things said about me.  Well then I had to know!  I had gone over everything in my head a million times!  Did I do something wrong?  Did I piss her off in some way?  Did she just not like me or my services? We never had a fight or confrontation, I just stopped hearing from her.  So the truth finally came out!  She told this next walker that she fired me because "the new person that I hired stole her diamond earrings." Um, WHAT????  First of all that is a blatant lie. No one that works for me would steal anything.  I trust them implicitly.  Secondly, no one has ever been alone in her house except for me.  Thirdly, if that actually happened, why would she say NOTHING?  And lastly, if she thought that was true, then why did she call me back 2 weeks ago to work for her again??   I have gotten jobs because the last dog walkers DID steal and the police officer that took the report referred me as a walker.

I let this sink in and I then sent a text to the next walker that she used to ask if this was what she told him.  He said that he didn't remember hearing anything about diamonds, but remembers her saying that I left dog poop all over her basement and wanted to send someone else besides me to fill in for a walk.  Let me just touch upon these two things.  First, if anything comes out of an animal and it is on the floor and I SEE it, I am cleaning it up.  If I don't go into that particular room and see it, how am I to know that it is there?  If something happens between the time that I leave and the time that the owner gets home - I cannot be held responsible.  The next major point is that I am one person running a busy business.  I cannot always be the one to do the walking and or feeding.  I will not send someone else to a house alone without giving the owner a heads up, especially for clients that were used to it just being me. My newer clients know that it could be me or 2 other people right off the bat.

This situation infuriates me because I was accused of things that I didn't do and I didn't even have a chance to defend myself!  She accused me of this to other people and never confronted me!  I know that I did nothing wrong, and I'm pretty sure that she knows it too since she keeps changing her story and going through dog walkers as often as she changes her socks.  I hold no grudges, I am just in shock.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Sad Goodbye to an old cat friend

Last Saturday I had to say goodbye to an old man cat (19 years old to be exact) that was owned by a client turned friend.  He had been having issues with his mouth for quite some time, but in the past month it had gotten progressively worse.  He was hungry, and he would eat - but he had attacks after most meals where he would gag and struggle to swallow.  He would shake it off, calm down, and then go eat more.  It got to the point where he didn't eat for over 24 hours and his owner knew that was it.

We were in constant communication about this.  When is the right time?  How will she know?  Is he suffering?  It's tough to answer these questions, because you really just know when it's time.  They will tell you.  Last Saturday, he told her.  She asked me to come to the vet for moral support. I met her over there midday and he went very peacefully.  You could tell that he was ready and that he had enough.  He had 19 years of adventures and crazy times (more than my own cats!).

He was an indoor/outdoor cat in the city which meant that he mostly hung out in the backyard (and other backyards that were close by)  He chased birds, killed mice, snoozed in the sun (and sometimes rain), and came in for meals and love.  He was loud and grumpy, but so sweet!  He also gave me some heart palpitations  over the years.  One time I went in to feed him and could not find him anywhere in the house.  I searched everywhere and then thought to look out back.  I'm calling for him and he doesn't come running.  I see him sleeping on the roof of the shed (outhouse?) in the yard behind his.  I call him and get no response.  I clap my hands and start yelling his name.  Nothing.  I tried to climb on a chair to reach him to tap  him and he was Just out of reach. I then thought he was dead and began to freak out.  I was looking for anything around me to be helpful.  I started throwing small pebbles at him to see if he was in fact dead.  I hit him with 3 or 4 rocks and I saw him stretch, yawn, and proceed to come over the neighbors call and stand at his back door yelling for dinner.  (the little stinker)

R.I.P. Arlo, you will be missed

This was where he was outside when I couldn't reach him! Directly in the middle behind the giant tree.             

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Glass is NOT a good snack

I went in for my normal afternoon dog visit to my favorite Great Danes and saw that they had torn the living room apart (no more than usual) Pillows and blankets were all over the floor amongst the toys and chew treats. I saw something shiny rolled in a blanket and fished it out.  It was a glass nightlight.
They were intentionally chewing on glass the little stinkers!  Now granted, they are 100+ lb dogs, and this teeny amount would probably pass, but it still made me nervous.  Just in case I called Mike to bring over some bread for them.  In case you were unaware, when a dog eats something sharp like this, feed them bread. It cushions it as it passes through.  He runs it over and I give them each a big piece because I wasn't sure who did the eating.  They were excited and took the bread, but didn't know what to do with it.  There were guilty faces and confused looks.  I had to break it up into pieces to get them to understand that it was food.  These two dogs!  They keep me on my toes!

Big BIG box

Sometimes while an owner is away - you get last minute, urgent requests.  Today I got a call from a client who is away for the week.  He told me that Fedex just sent him a message stating that they left a large box on his step.  He asked if I could run over and bring it inside.  This is no problem at all!  I bring packages in all the time and I wasn't far.   I arrived on his street to see this :

That's a huge box!  I get closer and see that Fedex screwed anyone getting in or out of the house
They left it there completely preventing the door from opening.  I had to maneuver it enough to open the screen door to open the main door and then slide it in because it was HEAVY (and about as tall as I am) 
Finally got it inside and had to lay it down in his living room while the cat gazed upon me with such confusion.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Expect the Unexpected

I started my day at the vet.  I have a cat who had a partial urinary blockage a week ago and I have been closely monitoring him since.  He was showing signs of pain again and after a few bouts of peeing on shirts in the past 24 hours, I thought it best to recheck him and make sure he didn't re-block.  This was in-between visits this morning.  I got him back home and headed right out again.

Fast forward to 4 dogs later.  I go into the house and see mail ripped up.  Not normal, but not unusual.  Then I see plastic chewed up and an unraveled roll of poop bags.  Ok.... then I see a VERY jittery and hyper dog.  Hmm.... then I walk into the kitchen and see MANY silver wrappers that are all torn up.  Damn!!  I quickly figure out that they are chocolate protein bars and call the owner.  No answer.  This dog is looking at me like he is going to jump out of his skin from sugar overload.  I call again, no answer.  I am then contemplating just taking him over to the vet to induce vomiting, but I hate doing that without the owners permission.  I search the bathrooms for hydrogen peroxide so that I can induce vomiting on their deck.  I don't see any!  The owner then calls me back, confirms that there were at least 5 protein bars in the box that he ate, and we agree that I will take him to the vet and she will meet me.

I clean everything up - throw a leash on him, and fly out the door with the box that the bars came in (the box was untouched, sneaky bastard) We get to the vet, we go in a room, and they look up the ingredients in these bars that could potentially be harmful.  I hate walking in there, but as a former employee they at least know that I wouldn't do it if it weren't emergent. All the while, he is giving me cute guilty looks

They take him back to give him apomorphine (a little pill that you put in the eye that dissolves and induces vomiting) and see what came up.  At that point I went to leave and the owner came in to talk to the doctor.  By the time I finished 2 dogs I received a text from her that he threw up all of the protein bars and they sent him home!  Hooray!  Crisis averted !  Always expect the unexpected in this line of work.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Long hours in deep freeze

I honestly think that I am losing my mind from lack of  "me" time.  On the verge of madness!  Lets start with the concept of waking up on a Saturday at 6am just like any other day and seeing that the temperature is 16 degrees and the wind chill is -2 degrees.  It is a SLIGHTLY slower day, but still super cold for trekking around. I took a last minute dog situation (they forgot to get a hold of me ahead of time, but they are good regular clients, so of course I said yes) which made for 3 morning dog walks in the cold cold cold city.  That is not to mention the 5 cat visits.  At the last cat which is only a block from my house, I could not get the bottom lock to work.  I stood outside gloveless for 15 minutes trying to get into this house and could NOT get the lock to turn.  I had to knock on the neighbors door who I knew had a set of keys and she got in with her set (Thank god! She is my hero of the day!)  I get in and there is poop all over the kitchen (which is no big deal to clean), they eat,  I got to the litter, I scoop,  and I smack my head on the pipe in the basement when I stood up from the litterbox.  At that very moment, I gave up.  I was seriously considering going on vacation next week.  I was planning on running away to Florida and not telling anyone.   I'm tired and cold and frustrated.  That being said, I must take control of this " business gone mad" and set up policies, take on another person for help, and enforce the word "No" when necessary.

If anyone needs me, I shall be icing my head.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Their dog was your dog???

What a random series of events this afternoon!  I went to get my nails done at a place closer to my house - very spur of the moment.  I had a rare hour to kill and had been trying to get my nails done since before Thanksgiving.  I walked into this strange place where I didn't know anyone, hoping that someone was free.  The nail technician and I got to talking about what I do and she starts telling me about her 2 dogs.  She has to Shiba Inus.  She then said that she used to have a golden retriever, but had to surrender him to the shelter when he was 7 months old because he was eating her house.  My ears perked up - this sounded WAY too familiar.  She told me when this happened, which shelter,  and more about the puppy. I immediately knew the truth - I have her old dog as a client! She couldn't believe it!  (Neither could I!)  What a small world, but so nice that she knows the dog is happy and in a wonderful home.  She and her children were devastated when they gave this dog up.  She showed me baby pictures of him and then I showed her adult pictures of him!

It is so great to see him as a puppy!  I have known him since he was about 8 months, but not a baby. What a cutie - I'd know that face anywhere!  

Seems that I was supposed to go there today and get my nails done to meet this woman!  The universe works in mysterious ways!

Monday, January 5, 2015

You Don't Pay - I Don't Hold Back

I was going to write this about a month ago, and I thought that I would give these people the benefit of the doubt for just a little while longer.  Well, that was incredibly stupid on my part because they didn't even deserve that.

About 2 months ago I received a call at 7 am from a number that I didn't recognize.  It was a woman telling me that she had an emergency situation and needed a cat sitter.  She was literally in a hospital bed in New Jersey awaiting a cardiac procedure and told the doctor that she couldn't have anything done until she knew that her cats were taken care of.  You could hear it in her voice - the weakness, the worry, the concern.  She told me that she had emailed me the night before (turns out she did at 11 pm and I was asleep).  She also told me that her husband had emailed me a few weeks prior to ask about my services. They had a horrible story - Their house in NJ was being repaired after major water damage and they were living temporarily in a highrise in Center City and living off insurance money from the house.  Then she ends up in the hospital with heart issues.  Of course I agreed to take care of the cats!  I am not a monster!

She informs me that no one has been there in nearly 3 days, so they must be starving.  We get there as soon as possible which was around 11 am.  They didn't have the key at the front desk so they had to call maintenance to let us in the apartment. The cats DESTROYED the place! There were broken dishes all over the floor that they flung out of the cabinet, no food or water, dirty litter, etc.  Mike looks all over for food and litter and doesn't see anything.  I call the owners cell phone - she doesn't answer.  I call the hospital that she gave me the number for, they give me a hard time because I don't know her last name.  All I had was a first name, a husbands name, a room number , and a reason for being there.  After they transferred me to 3 different people, they finally got me connected to her room.  She sounded distressed and put me on the phone with her husband who THEN tells me that there is no food or litter and we have to go buy some.  I ask specifically what kind of food and litter (I don't want to stress the cats out any further with new things in their world) and we go to Target to buy everything.  We then go BACK to the highrise, have maintenance let us in AGAIN and feed the starving kitties.  I told the owner that morning that we would go until we heard otherwise.

We return the next few days and still hear nothing from them as to when they are coming back.  The 3rd or 4th day we come in and the carpet has been freshly vacuumed and someone had fed the cats.  Was it them?  Housekeeping?  I had no idea - so I call and text to see if they are back.  I don't get a response, so we skip a day.  We come in the day after that and ask the front desk if they are back in the apartment.  They say yes, they saw them 2 days prior hanging out on the computer in the lobby!!  What??!!  They didn't leave a note or money, nothing.  Later that afternoon I received a text from the husband that says that they are back (2 days after the fact) and  he thanked me for everything. There was no question of what they owed me, payment, etc., So I sent one back stating that we bought food and litter (the receipt was on their fridge held up by my business magnet) and they owed us for 4 visits.  I got no reply for a week or so.  I sent an email with a balance. Another week goes by.  Then I finally get an email apologizing for the lack of contact, stating that they are having financial difficulties, etc.  I knew this and even said at the very least, I need to be reimbursed for the food and litter. He said that he would send that right away and get the rest to me as soon as possible.  So far I have not seen a dime OR heard from them. I don't ever expect to  which is why I can badmouth them in this blog without a hint of guilt.

Moral of the story is this.  Just communicate and be honest.  If they had told me that they couldn't pay - I probably still would have helped them out.  I may not have purchased such pricey food and litter....but I would have helped because their situation was dire.  The fact they just disappeared and didn't even offer to compensate me is beyond insulting.  This is my business and my livelihood.  This is not a hobby and I am not a teenager doing this for pocket money.  I have a house and a mortgage and responsibilities and that should be respected.  I never met these people and I don't even know what they look like.  I refuse to send them another email that simply states common sense and decency in society because I know that they won't respond OR feel any remorse.  The truth is that they were lucky to have hired me and not someone else who would have taken advantage of the situation.  I know in the end I got screwed, but at least I know that I was the one who did right by them.