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Friday, August 12, 2016

Fired Before Hired and Bashed to My Husband

Oh boy, are you people in for a crazy story!  A few weeks ago I was walking a dog in in neighborhood and Terry came to pick me up. There are assigned parking spots and she was in someones spot, so she moved. The woman was apparently very chatty.  I walk by and get bombarded by this same woman because she wanted to pet the dog that I was walking. (Of course she did, he's adorable)  She starts chatting with me and it ends up being a 45 minute discussion where she told me her current medical status, her trials and tribulations with training her own dog, her daughters history, her recent relationship history... you get the idea.  Mind you, Terry is waiting in the car and the poor dog that I have is so hot!  The reason that I couldn't cut her off is because she informed me of a serious diagnosis and seemed scared.  I wanted to be an ear, because that's just what I do.  She then told me how she was looking for a personal trainer.  I recommended my husband, she seemed thrilled and called me an angel.  I thought she was a little nutty, but seemed sweet enough....

In the next few weeks she and my husband were in contact about training and spoke AT LENGTH about the best course of action for her.  There were many texts, phone calls, emails, etc. She told him that she wanted my contact info so that I could help her walk the dog post-op.  I was willing if I could fit it in my schedule.  Within the month, she never told me what she needed, she postponed her surgery, and I kept running into her when I would walk this other dog that lived across the street.  She would call me over and interrupt the walk and tell me about her broken car, her broken phone, etc.  She would call me and talk about everything except how many walks she needed from me when she was home from the hospital.  I learned of her broken couch, how her day went, her ex and his behavior, the dog and his pulling, but never what she needed.

This past week she was supposed to have an assessment with my husband in person for personal training. She was trying to get me to come that morning to learn how to walk the dog.  I kept telling her that I have walked every type of dog (people aggressive, dog aggressive, pullers, large dogs, etc)  She insisted hers was different and I had to watch how her daughter walked him. I told her that I wasn't going to have time that week, but she seemed like she ignored that statement.  A few days before her training assessment, she sent me a text that said, "My phone is up Debbie!"
Then the conversation went like this:

Me: "Ooh! Hooray! I still don't really have time to be able to come over this week.  If I can find a pocket I will definitely let you know, but my schedule is just super crazy.  As far as post surgery are you thinking you would need me once a day or more than that? Just not sure exactly what the expectations were and if I should potentially refer you to someone else that might have a little more time in their schedule."

Her:  "2x a day if not 3 depending on my daughter (and some personal info about her schedule that  I will keep private)   Ugh...   I saw nugget tonight with his owner. He is so darn adorable.

Me:  "I don't think there's any way that I would be able to do that, I have to be honest.  I would love to be able to, but I am already going to have 25-30 visits a day and there is no way that I can add 2-3 more dog walks onto that"

Her: "Xmas present for (daughter). For Sure"

Me: "Yes, he is the cutest (dog breed) ever :)"

Her: "I agree.  So sad. Ok.  Need to regroup. May not include your husband. Let him know. Nite guys."

Me: "Ok, I"m sorry."

Her: "Ok. So many resources in the city"

Me: "I can refer you to some other walkers if you want.  I was jut under the impression that you were going to need me maybe once a day to really get him out and other than that he can just go in out back."

Her:  "Tell (husband) Thurs may not happen.  I have calls tomorrow.  Good luck guys. No Thx you. "

Me: "Thank you, you too

Her: "Let (husband) know Thurs a NO go."

Me: "I will"

Her: "Thx again"

So I was a bit put off. She is not using him as a personal trainer because I can't walk her dog 3x a day? Ok... I now realize the crazy has appeared. We are 2 separate people with 2 separate businesses.  I called him to tell him and he was not surprised. To tell you the truth, we were both a bit relieved. My issue was that she would see me almost daily for a week and she never told me what she needed from me. But she had no problem telling me about her broken couch.   I chalked it all up to something that never should have happened in the first place and THEN she started texting my husband!
 This was how she started it:

Her: "(Husband), I cannot work with you. Your wife is non-flex. We need different scenarios. Best."

Him: "Hi (potential client name). I'm sorry to hear that.  Deb's schedule is very full and sometimes she can't fit in as many new requests as she'd like. If I may ask, why does this mean we can't train together? Our businesses are completely separate."

Her: "Frankly your wife acts like she can't be bothered. No thank you!!!!  Was going to add my daughter."

Him: She is the most accommodating person I've ever known.  Just because she can't fit your schedule doesn't mean she is blowing you off.  She always offers referrals if she can't do it."

Her: "I cannot have a serious trainer for either of us.  Her response, terrible. My phone off."

Him: "I'm just wondering why Deb's unavailability has turned this into you and I not being able to train?"

No response

Him again: "Well, from your response, I'd say we wouldn't work out anyway.  Deb is in high demand for a reason. Just because she's booked, there's no need for tantrums. Good luck."

After I read this, we both immediately blocked her from our phones. Seems our empathy got the best of us, but somehow the universe made it all work out for the best.  I don't wish her harm and I hope that her health improves, but I also hope that I never have to speak to her again. This was a huge waste of time for both me and my husband and next time I will make it a point to confirm needs off the bat.  For all I know she could have had a pretend conversation with me where she already told me and that's why she got upset when I said know.  Oddly enough, when I met her she had a friend of mine booked to walk her dog and just blew her off for 3 weeks.

Since this turn of events I have learned a few things about her from neighbors and I consider us extremely lucky to have narrowly avoided working for her.  It's a new one, double firing before we were actually hired.  I still shake my head in disbelief.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Church Cemetery and a Flutist

Last week I was walking my normal dog through the normal old cemetery at St. Peters and I saw a man playing the flute on one of the benches.I thought to myself, "This is nice, I never get dog walking background music."  Then we passed by him and he changed the song for my dog that I had. She immediately was smiling and entranced.  He was a nice man, told me how he lived in NY and was a professional musician.  Then another dog came up to us who was barking incessantly.  The lovely flutist starting playing a song to calm that dog down and it worked! We all stood around, he took a few requests.... it was delightful.  Could have stayed there all afternoon.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Rules?? There are no rules for tough guy construction workers!

I am pet sitting for 2 different clients who are neighbors in a new development.  Half of the development is still under construction which not only makes things incredibly difficult for the people already living there, but for me as well.

There was a major leak from a pipe in the basement of one of the houses.  They were repairing it for days (days).  I was told that there was a clog in the big pipe underground next to her house and they were having trouble unclogging it.  I was there 4x/day for almost a week and kept an eye on the progress.  The dog that I walk over there has a spinal deformity so I am extremely protective of him with bigger dogs, big steps, etc.

One afternoon  I saw that one of the construction workers had his dog with him (A wheaten terrier), no leash.  The dog was by his side and not moving so I left it alone.  The next day I was there to walk the dog around 7:30 a.m. and he was there again.  I didn't know the dog was with him until he came bounding up to us in the parking lot (off leash) and startled the hell out of my clients dog.  I picked my dog up and started yelling, "Who's dog is this??!!"  The one guy starts calling for the dog to come back to him, but the dog is not listening.  He is running all over the development at top speed, peeing on peoples houses, etc.  I brought my dog inside, came back out and told him that this was an accident waiting to happen.  As I was talking to him, he started to ignore me and stare at the work he was doing in the big hole that he dug.  I finally got his attention and said that he can't have his dog running loose around there. There are tons of dogs in that development and it's not safe, plus Delaware Ave is about 100 ft away! His reply, "Oh, he's pretty good. He always comes to work with me."

I Shook my head and went to take care of the cat. Twenty minutes later I headed out to the next dog and at the end of the development I see a woman frantic on the phone.  She had his dog closed in the small dog park area that is for the development.  I heard her calling animal control and his cell. I went up to her, interrupted her call and told her that it was the dog of the stupid construction worker. She was livid! She had been chasing the dog down to save him and was late for work because of his irresponsibility. She called him on his cell again (which was on the collar) and said that she had his dog in the park area. She told him how she was scared that the dog was going to run into the street and get hit by a car.  He sauntered on down and saw us and rolled his eyes, just telling us that his dog is fine.  Obviously he had no idea where the poor dog even was, how could he be fine. How could he focus on a giant hole in the ground AND his dog running free next to a highway?  I told her to call the HOA people for the development.

 I started walking to my next job and couldn't get this out of my head, so I texted both of my clients that lived there and got the # for their property manager. It was only 8:15 a.m. and the office didn't open until 9.   I had no choice so I called the police first and tried to get this dog out of harms way. This is endangerment of the life of an animal and a bit of neglect.  Not only is there a leash law, but I highly doubt that it is legal to bring a dog to a job site like this.  Then I waited until 9 and called the property manager to try to get them to put a stop to this. THEY hired the guy, I'm sure they did not want the liability of having a strange dog running around their property that is under construction.  Then my client called the property manager after I did.

I don't know what the outcome was, but I did not see the dog after that.  I hope he was home and safe and not meandering around the city by himself.  It is frightening how irresponsible people can be with their dogs!   It also amazes me that the 10 other workers with him had NOTHING to say to him regarding this.  Just kept their mouths shut and looked down.  When you keep your mouth shut and stare at the ground, nothing will ever change.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

YELP Wars - Kindness Wars - Humanity Questioned

I had a pretty bad experience at the front desk of a particular building for the past 3 days.  I wanted to mention it to the management office of that building, but I wanted to call them directly (not go through the front desk)  I tried to google their phone number, but I could not find it.  What I DID find was a leasing company that works with that building.  They are called TCS Management.  In fact, they were the first to pop up on my Google search when I googled the apartment building.  Common sense says that since they work with that building and leasing, they would have the number to the management office.  I called them.  I was treated like crap.  I wrote a yelp review. The owner sent me a message, again, treating me like crap.  Here is the sequence of events should you be interested.

TCS Management

1.0 star rating

I called this morning to ask if the had a phone number for the management office of apartment building where I do some work.  They rent out properties in that building, so I assumed that they would have the phone number to the management office. (I couldn't find it online and did not want to speak to the front desk)  The first guy that I spoke with told me that he didn't know the number, that they don't work with that building, put me on hold, and then came back to keep repeating that they deal with renting properties and cannot help me.  When I responded, he hung up on me.  Then I called right back to say, "Hey, maybe you shouldn't hang up on people that are just trying to get a phone number of a property that you work with."  The other guy that answered the phone called me "Buddy"   (I am a 35 yr old woman) and basically hung up on me again.  I own my own business and when someone calls me to ask a question, I am completely respectful to them, even if I cannot help them.  These people are awful and rude for no reason.

I get a response from the OWNER almost immediately. This is his reply :
Debbie, I appreciate your quest.  However, we are real estate agency  and brokers. Unfortunately we are not Google.
Your rant is sheepish, you are complaining that you want our staff to work for you to get a phone number for another business and give you a specific individuals number in a company we have no relationship with. Furthermore, when we googled a number for you, you refused to go through that firms switch board or and I quote their  front desk. 
Welcome to Earth.
Wow! This was from the OWNER OF THE BUSINESS!   His one employee hung up on me for asking for a phone number that I assumed they had.  Then when I called back to say, "Hey, I just called to ask you some help.  There is no need to hang up on me when I am just asking if you have a phone number." , his other employee says, "Yeah, we're a leasing office.  Good luck with that Buddy!"   Treated me like I was a lunatic calling to ask them why the sky was blue!  No apology, nothing.  Owner of the business ALSO treated me like shit for asking if they had a phone number to a building that they work with.  
My final reply was this:
Once again,  your professionalism is just outstanding.  I wasn't asking you to be Google, I was asking you for a phone number of a building that you do business with.  If you can't help me,  you say, "I'm sorry, we cannot help you. " As a professional business, you do not hang up on a person who is not being rude and you do not call them "buddy". Way to go,  you are even more awful than I originally thought.

Here is my point.  If someone that worked for me treated someone like that, I would apologize profusely! Publicly! What has become of people that they can't just treat other humans with respect?  This is a disgrace and I can only say that if you are thinking about using these people, think again. They don't deserve the business if the owner himself cannot treat a person with the same respect and dignity that he would expect. 

Update***  Later in the evening he went on my business page and gave me a 1 star review (although he has never done business with me, or even had a conversation with me about my business)  I reported him and blocked him.  THEN he goes BACK on Yelp and under my review writes "Likewise". An hour later he erases that and writes, "Just remove your post and I will follow suit. If you do not, I will act accordingly..."  Then a short while after that he erases it.  Can we say toddler tantrum??  Honestly, all he had to respond with either privately or publicly was, "I'm sorry that my employee hung up on you and treated you like that for asking a question. That is unacceptable."  Instead he tells me that they are not google and "welcome to earth."  He will not win with the threats, toddlers cannot always have their way.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sights and Sounds of Philadelphia - the explicit version

Philadelphia is a CRAZY city full of CRAZY people.  I am out walking the streets all day long, so I come across more things on a daily basis than most people see in a month.  I just want to share some things that I have seen and dealt with recently.

Today in a center city highrise I was standing at the front desk waiting for an apartment key.  There are 2 sets of automatic doors that open to enter the building.  A priest and his assistant walked in about 5 minutes after me and the priest says, "Wow! I feel like Moses with these doors just opening for me!"

Carpenter street has Mr. Magoo that watches his new car that is parked in his own handicapped spot in front of his house. He and his wife chain smoke all day at the front door to make sure no one touches it.

10th St has the lady who does not want dog pee on her tree or plants, so she covers them with chicken wire.  It is an ugly disaster, but it keeps the dogs away.... 

8th st has the guy that comes out of his house if you park in front of it and your tire is touching the curb.  He had to repair the curb once before (and he did an AWFUL job) so now he comes out of his house immediately to make you move your tire.

Washington Square Park has had its share of grown men urinating in the plant beds at around 5pm right in front of me.  Three separate urinators in a 24 hr period.  No shame.

My previous posts on "The Bitch of Bella Vista" was on the news because she pissed off the wrong person and he left dog poo at her door.  See link to video below.  She wants to shoot him.


Thursday on 10th St there was a man on a bike that stopped to finish his can of soda and then throw it on the ground.  He started to take off and I yelled, "Did you just throw that can on the ground?" and he replied, "Yeah! Fuck you!"  (I assume you can imagine how the rest of our conversation went) But it ended up with ME picking the can up and putting it in a recycling bin that was 10 ft away from where he was stopped. 

The man on Mildred that barks at the 2 dogs that we walk, but then gets put off when they lunge at him. (Um... don't bark at 2 big dogs on the street) Then he proceeds to tell us how mean and aggressive they are when they bark at him through the window.  We constantly tell him that they are just protecting their home... that's what dogs do....   He will never get it.

The barber shop on 8th st that lets his dog run free off leash all over the neighborhood and bark at other dogs. (really a sweet dog, but not well controlled)

The park that is redone and has a "human only area" but then the little humans are allowed to infiltrate the dog area without adult supervision. Not only is it full of urine and feces, these parents let their kids wander up to strange dogs without intervening.  (I literally had to point and yell, "Who belongs to this child?? These dogs are not kid friendly."

The highrise elevators where the residents are either really friendly or really cold. The more money they have, the less they want to acknowledge the "dogwalker"  You never know what you will get - it's a crap shoot every time. 

The dog park where you are walking up with a big dog and you see a 3 year old boy climbing the gated door to the dog park while his mom gets something from the car. Then he starts trying to punch the dog that is walking by him, like a professional boxer. Like punch punch punch punching the air next to the dog saying, "I'm gonna punch you dog. I'm gonna punch you." And the mom says, "Don't do that. It got teeth. It'll bite you." And then he proceeds to fight her on her argument. That's it - that's all he was told.  That dog owner was horrified, as was I.  

This is just a bit of what my day to day life is around these crazy parts.  Be sure that there are more stories to come.

Monday, June 6, 2016

I live like a servant and it is my own damn fault

Summer is here!  Well, nearly... but it is vacation season and beach season! Well.... for everyone else.  This is the time of year when I reevaluate my life.  How many hours do I work? Why haven't I taken an actual vacation since 2011? Am I charging enough for my services (when I am walking around in 100 degree weather, barely able to breathe)?  Should I take summers off since I don't handle the heat well?  Do I take on too much? Do I deserve to have an actual life that does not involve work? Am I offending people by saying no?

These questions run through my brain all day everyday. People say that your job does not define you.  Well, in my case it does.  I kind of live and breathe animals.  I wake up to 4 cats in the bed, I feed the brood every morning, and then I leave the house at 7:30 a.m. to walk and feed other animals until about 3pm where I come and take care of my animals again. I rest a bit, and then go back out to take care of other peoples animals.  Then I come home to clean up after my own.  Sometimes along the way I find stray kittens that I have to bring home to save. (Yes, this happened 2 weeks ago)

I have sacrificed a social life as well as my free time for the past 6 years. Don't get me wrong, I was always a workaholic. The difference was that when I worked for a company, they forced me to use vacation days.  Boy do I miss that!  I try to please everyone and say yes when they need me.  It's nice to feel needed, but it sucks to feel the pressure of feeling SO needed that my own life suffers.

I used to stay overnight with dogs all the time.  When I was in my early 20's and lived in a crappy apartment with no cable and no washer/dryer, staying in an adult setup was a pleasure!  Now I am married with my own house, cable, and appliances and I just want my own bed!  I will do overnights from time to time, but when I do them I don't sleep very well and my cats go a little nutty.  It is a lucrative service that is needed often, but it just became extremely tough.

My business has grown and it has gotten to a point where I need to turn people down.  Not because I want to, but because there is literally not enough time in the day to accommodate everyone. I've had people beg, offer me a towncar with a driver, offer me double me rate, guilt trip me, and for what?  I have been doing this for 15 years at this point.  Two weeks ago I actually had a newer client request 2 walks one day.  When I got back to her about doing the walks, she said, "Oh!  I saw that you just rescued 2 kittens. It seems like you have a lot on your plate, so I got other coverage."  I was shocked and grateful and honestly a little teary because it made me realize that I can't remember anyone ever saying this to me before. In 15 years!

I take on last minute requests.  I help people out who are having emergent situations.  My phone goes off from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. I try to do whatever I can to make my clients happy and to make them realize how much I really do care about them as well as their pets.  My entire day is filled with texts and emails asking, "Can you...? Will you... Are you available...? Can you? Can you ? Can you? "  It is extremely overwhelming and sometimes I just shut down and I do not answer until the next day.  Some people get concerned if they don't hear back within a few hours.  I need at least 24 hours to be able to respond.

As I turned 35 this year, I realized that my own life has been put aside for work.  I am taking a stand this year and making doctors appointments, taking beach days, and basically just giving myself a moment to breathe. Instead of filling every waking moment with work and catering to others, I am giving myself a cutoff time in the day where I will not do any more visits.  It is nothing personal to anyone.  If I say no, it is not because I hate you or because I am blowing you off.  I am just one person and I can only do so much in a 24 hour period. If I don't set limits for myself, I will just work until I crash.

So for those of you reading this that care, these are things that you can do to maintain your good relationship with your pet sitter/dog walker:

1)  Plan ahead!  Nothing worse than last minute trips you feel like you have to fit into your busy schedule

2) Have back up sitters!  I won't ALWAYS be available. Back ups are a must

3) When I tell you that I am unavailable do not beg or try to bribe me into doing what you want.  We sitters have to have personal lives as well.

4) Do not text about business after 9pm unless it is emergent.  I have already worked for 12+ hours and I do not want to think about scheduling work all evening as well

5) Make sure to be respectful and appreciative of your sitter and not treat them like hired help that doesn't deserve a life of their own.  We are in the service business, but we are not your slaves.

6) Treat us like adults. We are not 16 year old girls walking dogs after school. This is our livelihood, and although it is exhausting, we love it.

7) Always ask if we are available to do something.  Do not just assume and say, "I need you to come tomorrow at 5 and Sunday and 4."

Remember. You trust us with your house, your keys, and your 4 legged kids.  We hold that trust close to our hearts and we protect your house and keys and 4 legged kids.  We lock your doors, turn on your alarms, deal with the police when the alarm unexpectedly goes off, and we make sure your animals are safe and healthy.  It is as though you are all family to us. Your fur kids are our fur kids too. We just want to feel like we are appreciated. The old saying is really true.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Guardian of the Grass

Picture it:  It is 7 am on a Sunday morning and I am walking the dog that I just slept with for 3 days.  She woke me up at 6 and after trying to sleep for a little bit longer, I gave her breakfast and medicine and we headed out the door.  This morning I also had another dog to get to around 7:30 as well as a diabetic cat over 12 blocks away.  Instead of going our usual route up to 4th and Washington, I  decided to change it up and walk down Queen.  She peed a few times and we were passing Mario Lanza Park where she likes to roll around in the grass. ( only dog that I walk that stops mid walk to plop down in the grass and roll around)

Before I go any further, let's keep in mind that this dog has a dog park on one side and then "dog free" grass.  Why is it dog free?  Can they not sit down in it ? Can they just not use it as a bathroom?  It says it is a family friendly area, but I have seen families bring their dog with them to sit in the grass and picnic. I also passed by 2 piles of poop in said "family friendly dog free area".

Anyway, it's 7 am on a Sunday and I am just trying to get her to do her business and enjoy her outside time.  She walks over to the edge of the grass next to the bench where there is pretty much just dirt and leaves and she poops.  As a am standing there with poop bag on my hand waiting for her to finish, someone comes out of their house across the street with a dog to tell me that they really like to keep that area "dog free."  At 7am. On a Sunday.

She is going on about how the grass dies and how they seed and it's backbreaking work.... yada yada.  I am literally on the edge of the grass PICKING UP THE POOP and looking at her as though she is crazy.  I told her that I understand (which is true), but I am not IN the grass. And that she likes to roll around, it's her thing.  Why wouldn't that be allowed in a park?  They have fenced the area to seed it in the winter, I have seen it.  I know it's costly and a big pain, but here is the issue that I see.  This is a PUBLIC park.  The park is in the middle of a neighborhood with hundreds if not thousands of dogs.  Grass is scarce in the city - this park has 2 areas of grass.  Even if you walk a dog by the park, they say to themselves, "LOOK! IT'S GRASS!!"  The only way to even attempt to keep the hundreds of dogs off this grass is to build a fence around it. Even then, people would still feel entitled to put their dogs in the fenced area.  There is no such thing as a "dog free area" in this city, no matter how many people want to think that there is.  Trying to keep an area "dog free" is pretty much the equivalent saying that Philly restaurants are "child free zones." It is crazy and it's not gonna happen.  If you put a bench out, someone will sit on it.  If you have grass, a dog will pee on it.  That's just how it is. People bring their dogs ANYWHERE they want, regardless of signs, manners, or even laws.

I have seen people bring dogs into fenced in playgrounds with kids on Fitzwater between 9th and 10th.
I have also seen people put their dogs in the tiny fenced area on Bainbridge between 3rd and 4th.  They literally took the space to plant flowers down the strip between parked cars and people plop their dogs in there

People don't care, they will bring their dogs anywhere. And in a park with no fence that so many dogs walk through on a daily basis? Come on Queen Village Neighbors Association.  It's nice to think that you can keep the grass dog free, but you can't.  I understand where you are coming from completely, but it is a futile effort.   Especially when the 3 other neighborhood parks are closed and being renovated.  And you know what?  Public parks not only have dogs wanting to use them as a bathroom, but they have neighborhood cats and human beings that use parks as bathrooms when no one is around.  Trust me, I have seen it all.  There is human as much human pee on city surfaces as there is dog and cat pee.  And to have someone come out to talk to me about it at 7am on a Sunday when I am picking up poop on the edge of the grass is just ridiculous.  How about going after those who are leaving poop piles everywhere?  Or those who insist on walking their dogs off leash through the park?  Choose your battles QVNA people, I'm not the one that is causing any kind of trouble in this neighborhood.  I am all about the safety and cleanliness of the streets.  Watch out for those people that are actually breaking a law before you confront them on a Sunday morning at 7am and scold them for doing their job and obeying the law.