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Monday, December 5, 2016

Charlie Waffles: Squirrel Extraordinaire

I haven't had time to write as much, but I wanted to write about Charlie Waffles a few months ago.  I figured that it would be an uplifting change from the "man hits dog" post.  There must always be a balance.  Here is the story of Charlie Waffles:

I was in the car with Terry headed down 3rd st to walk a dog.  I got out of the car, crossed the street, and when I hit the sidewalk in front of the dogs house, I saw a small furry gray ball by a car wheel.  I bent down and picked up a small cold and stunned little 7 week old squirrel.  The nextdoor neighbor was outside and kindly offered me a small towel to wrap him in and a piece of her Eggo waffle which he readily ate.  Now I had a squirrel and had still had to walk the dog.  The first rule of baby squirrels is "keep them warm and hydrated."  Luckily Terry squirrel sat in the car and my client had some pedialyte that I could use to hydrate the little guy.  After the dog went back home, we took the squirrel back to my house to give him a hot water bottle and some fleece to cuddle in while I finished my day.



I was hoping that he was just stunned and needed a little warmth and food and that when I returned home he would be raring to go out be a squirrel.  When I first checked on him in the house she was going NUTS in the carrier that I had him in.  He was biting at the door (and my finger) trying to get out.  My immediate thought was, "YAY!  He was just stunned and now he can run and go be free!!"  I optimistically took him out on my 2nd floor deck and opened the carrier door.  I expected him to bolt and climb down the side of my house.  Instead, he timidly walked out and jumped in my lap and them climbed on my shoulder.  (Damn!) From then on, he was my little buddy and I had to deal with the fact that I could only keep him for so long.  He stayed with us for a week and after taking him out on the deck every day, he was getting more and more bold.  He wasn't the best eater, so every morning he got a piece of waffle with peanut butter and jelly (hey, it WAS a nut) and he would eat baby food.  He enjoyed his carbs, but I knew that he needed to be a real squirrel with squirrel friends.

There was no reason for him to stay (no major injury, nothing to stop him from fulfilling his squirrely duties).  He was very attached to me and I was attached to him.  He didn't care for any other human really, he was my guy.  That just made it even more difficult to take him to the wildlife rehab and hand him over to strangers.  Instead of being Charlie Waffles, he became Gray Squirrel 3599.  I did call and check up on him a few times and he was acclimating quite well.  I secretly hope that he will find me one day in the world and jump on my shoulder so that I know it's him.  I know that I did what was best for him, but it was still tough! I'm happy that I got to play "mom" for a week to him and have a sweet bond.

















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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Do NOT Hit Your Dog In Front Me - Trust Me

After 2 full days of pouring rain, I was so happy to walk dogs on a dry and brisk morning.  I had 2 dogs with me in the neighborhood and we were crossing the street.  I saw a man walking a large pitbull towards us who saw us and smiled and seemed excited.  Given that I had an older pit and a puppy in my hands, I just let them cross the street and we backed up.  It seemed that the owner was not happy with the dog being happy ( I can only assume) and as soon as he passed us he flattened the dog to the ground and raised his hand and hit her hard in the head. She did NOTHING wrong.  Even if the dog did do something wrong, there is no excuse for hitting.  But this was pure abuse just for the sake of control.

My immediate reaction was to say, "Hey!! There is NO need to hit your dog!"  That was met with (kids cover your ears) "Mind your own fucking business! I'll do what the fuck I want! Mind your fucking business. I'll get my brother to come and get you! Don't fucking follow me!."  He had some more things to say, I was struggling for my phone, he was daring me to call the police, etc.  I followed at a distance to his destination and I called 911.  I gave a description of the man, the dog, and an address.  (Mind you I still had 2 dogs with me) I then got cut off from 911 - it just hung up.

I walked the dogs home, got them settled, and then headed to my next dog. While walking, I called the 3rd District to see if they were indeed sending someone out, considering we got disconnected.  They told me that they don't dispatch from there and that I have to call 911 again to check.  Sigh.  So I called - no answer.  I called again, it disconnected me with no answer.  I called AGAIN and after 10 rings a 911 operator picked up (Appalling!!!). I explained the situation and she asked if I was at the location that I called about.  I told her no.  She said that the police needed to speak with me in person before they go find him!!  I told her that no one told me to do this and her reply was, "Well that's unfortunate."  I told her where I was and she said that she would send a car out to me and that I should wait for them.  I waited 45 minutes.  No one showed up.  I had to get to the next dog, so I left and just looked for an officer on the way. I didn't find one until 17th and Pine.  He told me that I needed to file a report in person and call the SPCA.  The SPCA needs an address of the dog, I don't have that. I had what I thought was an address, but it seems that he was just "doing some business behind a gate"

So, people of Queen Village. Keep an eye out for him.  I saw him at 6th and Carpenter headed to 5th.  Tall white male, thin. Approx 65 yrs old. Longish gray/blondish hair.  Female pitbull, long torso, light brindle, large nipples as if she had a litter not long ago.  Please keep an eye out for him and and see if the dog is ok.  She does not deserve to live like this.

Yes,I know what everyone is going to say:
Be Safe
Be Careful
You don't know what he will do
Don't Engage

I get it, I am aware. But I cannot watch a dog get abused in front of me and just walk away.  I can't.  Hopefully someone knows him and can get the dog into a safer place.  I have to do whatever is in my power for the safety of the dog.

Update 12/4/16

Got an address with help of neighbors/clients/friends (GO TEAM DOG SAFETY!)
Filed a report with the police and the SPCA animal cruelty. Spoke to the officer and he will be having a chat with the owner (who btw has 3 dogs) on disciplining dogs by way of hitting.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Rest In Peace Sweet Bugsy

It's never easy when an animal client dies, but it always affects me a little differently. Some have passed in front of me on an emergency basis.  Some have passed and I found out months later. Some I have played "hospice nurse" to and knew that it was their time.  Each of them have had a place in my heart, whether I knew them for months or years, but the cat that passed today held a very special place in my heart.

Twelve years ago a good friend and co-worker of mine at another animal hospital took his own life.  To this day I have not gotten over it, nor will I ever.  For those of you who believe in the afterlife, he has come to visit me quite a few times over the years.  He has also visited our other co workers (they can attest to it).  After he passed, everything was a whirlwind of sadness and organization.  He was also a pet sitter and we had to take over his clients.  Twelve years ago I started pet sitting for Bugsy who he had already been watching for a few years.  Today Bugsy lost his battle with cancer.  My old co-corker and I were the only 2 people to ever pet sit for Bugsy and I always held that close.  It was my last real connection to him.  His owner and I became like family and he was such a special cat to me for all of these reasons.

He was always a "hefty cat" topping off at about 26 lbs.  It was tough to lift him, but he would always sit on the couch with me and watch TV.  He loved food, yelling at the closet, drinking out of everything except for his water bowl, and playing hide and seek behind the coffee table.  He was the apple of his moms eye - very bonded and very close. She hated to leave him alone in the house but felt better knowing that I was taking care of him.  He lived a long and mostly healthy life until his 15th year when he was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and then cancer.  He was being treated with chemo and steroids but he wasn't responding.  I spent the last few weeks shoving pills in his mouth and then force feeding him twice a day because he wouldn't eat on his own.  I kept hoping that it would just be temporary and it would give him the boost that he needed to respond to the medication.  Unfortunately it only prolonged his life so that he could spend a little more time with us.  He was visibly declining yesterday and would barely take the food I was giving him.  I knew then that he had given up and his mom agreed.  In the past 24 hours his back legs were giving out on him, he was becoming uncomfortable, and he just wanted to sleep.  It was time and we all dreaded this day.  I said my goodbyes last night because I just knew that today was the day.  I intermittently cried all day, as did his mom.  We both did everything in our power to keep him with us and comfortable.

After 12 years with a cat that was not my own, he really felt like part of my cat family.  I have cried for other clients passing, but this felt like I had lost one of my own.  My own emotions surprised me and I have been in mourning all day. He will be greatly missed, but I know that he is no longer in pain and in cat heaven looking down on us.  Here are some pictures from throughout the years.....











I love you Bugsy. !2 years was not enough for me.  I will miss you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

No, my dog is NOT trying to eat your daughter!

Just another lovely afternoon in Washington Square Park. I am walking my buddy Finn (pictured here)
And we are trying to do our "frolic through the park while doing our bathroom business" ritual.  We got halfway around the park and he decided that he wanted to switch directions. We turn around and I see a young father jogging the path of the park with his 3 daughters (I am assuming) . Their ages I guess ranged from 6-10 yrs old (again, I am assuming)  The first 2 youngest were right by his side but the last girl was lagging behind a bit.  Just as she decided to pick up the pace was right when she was passing me and Finn. He got SO excited when she ran by that he put on a huge smile and started jumping, trying to join her!  (He LOVES to run)  She looks to her left and immediately starts screaming bloody murder for literally about 20 seconds. Screaming at the top of her lungs repeatedly for 20 seconds! (really count to 20 to see how long that is) Meanwhile the whole park turns around to look at us!  It appeared as though the dog attacked her or I tried to kidnap her.  It was a "stranger danger" type of scream. Her dad was a good 200 feet away and I'm just standing here yelling, "He just got excited and wanted to run with you! He wasn't doing anything!!"  Far be it from the dad to run back over and see why the girl was screaming incessantly or talk to me. This dog wouldn't hurt a fly, he loves love and people. At that point Finn was so confused at what just happened that I decided to walk the opposite direction from the runners.  

We took the grass past a few benches and passed a group of about 8 Middle Eastern women and a baby that seemed to be feeding the squirrels and birds while they chatted.  We walked behind them just trying to get through the park when I felt something peg me in the head. I was hit in the back of the head with a cracker!  I rubbed my head and turned around and one horrified woman was looking at me and in a thick accent says, "Ooh, sorry!"  I asked, "Did you just throw a cracker at my head?" She looked uncomfortable and didn't answer, I doubt she understood a word I said. At that point, it was just safer for us to go back inside. Sometimes the park is just too much to deal with. It is a sad statement to make, but it is so very true.

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.
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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.