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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Off Leash and Stubborn

There is a community website that I am a part of in hopes to stay updated on community happenings as well as voice my concerns.  Recently my main concern is people walking their dogs off leash in the city where other dogs are on leash.  The leashed dogs are following the law.  They can also be dog aggressive, scared or anxious if an off leash dog comes up to them (it is a threat), and generally nervous and could bite out of fear.  I have been posting on this community site to try to get people to stop doing this.  Maybe they aren't aware of the law or the ramifications. Maybe they are just selfish and don't care about anyone else around them.  It seems a have a large number of people on my side, but  no one really knows what to do.  This was my most recent post:

Ok, I know I posted this before, and it seemed as though people were getting it for a while (while the post was relevant), but this morning I have learned otherwise. Local dog walker here, just trying to do my job. I was walking a dog that is not fond of other dogs down queen street this morning and within the first block I see a man walking his german shepherd back to his house (261 Queen, yes I will now call you all out) He seemed as though he was going right back in his house so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and waited on the opposite corner. Then I see him picking up stray trash and messing with his trashcans while the dog turns the corner and starts walking down 3rd street! So I yell over , "Excuse me! Is that you dog?" He said it was, and I said, "She is not good with other dogs, could you please get him so that we can cross the street?" And he got a little huffy and said, "Yeah! I was BRINGING him in the house." He called, the dog came, went in the house. Not the biggest deal, but he still wasn't paying attention and his dog was out of his sight completely.
THEN I walk through Mario Lanza park (regular park, not the dog park part) and we get to the end of the path leading to Christian and a guy with a ridgeback (full or mix?) walks in on the opposite side and lets his dog off leash immediately (not IN the dog park) and his dog comes charging at the dog that I have. I'm pulling her aside and yelling, "Whoa! She's NOT good with other dogs!" He runs over and grabs his dog by the collar and goes over to the dog park. I was saying , "Hey, you can't do that! They can't be off leash here." He just seems annoyed and goes, "Yeah.. Ok." and walks away. So I walk over to the dog park itself and call him over. I explain that I am not trying to be bitchy, but it's really not safe to do that. There are a ton of dog aggressive dogs in this neighborhood, just wait till he is in the park." His reply was priceless. "Yeah, I hear this at least once a day. I GUESS I'll have to start leashing him more." HE HEARS THIS AT LEAST ONCE A DAY AND IS STILL DOING IT!!!!!

I walk dogs. It is my business. It is my responsibility to keep my dog clients safe and out of harms way. I am liable. When people like this have no regard for other neighborhood animals, it enrages me. Walk your dogs on a leash. It is a simple concept. It is a law. It is common sense. Don't intentionally create dangerous situations! I am keeping these postings relevant because EVERYONE that is on my side needs to grow a pair and speak up! It is hard to single -handedly lead a revolution.

Today I got a private reply on the site from Bobby, the dog park guy.  Here is his reply to my post:

Debbie, Go figure, I was the gentleman at the dog park at Mario Lanza who was trying everything possible to ignore you when you tried to create a scene. I get that this is your "job" and it's very clear just how passionate you are about this but had I known you would have taken to public cry then I would have treated our encounter differently. I do not get a request once a day to leash my dog, that remark was simply to send you on your way so I can go about enjoying my day and morning walk with my dog. Why is it that all these run-ins you have end in confrontation? Would that by chance have anything to do with you and your unpleasant reactions? Just something to think about before you get as feisty as the dog you're walking next time. I realized mistake and was very apologetic to start and that's the part you omitted from record in your posting. People might be a little more respectful and responsive if you didn't carry such an (as you put it "bitchy") attitude. Understand that other owners work very hard the same way you do to train their dogs to be obedient and that includes practicing off-leash commands. That's all that is, please don't make these owners feel like they are incompetent/irresponsible because of the occasional free running mistakes before taking their environment into account. If you want to make a statement, do it in cordial fashion so that you can receive the same results in return. That's my two cents for whatever you feel it's worth. I won't be reading your reply whether it be private or another ill-informed public comment so don't waste much time in writing it. Take care, Bobby

What a (insert your own expletive here)! I did reply to him (and you know he read it) and this is what it said:
Yeah, I figured that was you. I repeated what YOU told me. Yes I take my business and responsibilities seriously. You are taking your dog to the dog park, yet you let your dog off leash when the actual dog park was still about 50 ft away. And your dog charged at the dog that I had in my hand. You want to wait until something awful happens? Go right ahead. I was trying to be human and call you over to chat behind the fence so you'd know where I was coming from. But you don't care, so that's fine. That was me not being bitchy. That was me trying to talk to your like a person and tell you why I was pissed. I truly hope that you and your dog stay safe. Make good decisions please.
Bottom line is, you are breaking the law. I am not. There is a leash law in this city. You had a confrontation before I even met you regarding the same thing. Common denominator was YOU. Although you want to practice training - it is unsafe and inconsiderate to do it in a setting such as Mario Lanza where there are other dogs and people all over the place. I wasn't trying to "ruin your day" and you did not apologize. You tried to placate me rudely and walked away. I don't want to see your dog attacked by a dog that he startles or hit by a car - just as much as I don't want to see one of my clients attacked. And don't use quotes around "job" . This is my job and my legit business. I have worked in the animal industry since 1996. I know what I am talking about and my concern is for the safety of the dogs. I don't care what you think or what you do with your time. Enjoy the dog park, just wait until you are in the gate to take the leash off. THat's all. Your dog is adorable and I would have said hello to him if I didn't think that the dog that I had would try to bite his face off. It's a small community, just be respectful. Rules apply to everyone - you are not exempt.

Philadelphia Dog Leash Law Section § 10-104 of the Philadelphia Code provides as follows: Animals Running at Large and Vicious Animals (1) No person shall permit any animal other than a sterilized cat to go at large upon any street, public place or private property other than the property of the owner of the animal. All animals, other than sterilized cats, using any street, public place or private property of anyone other than the owner of the animal shall be on a leash not exceeding six (6) feet in length including the handgrip but excluding the collar and accompanied by a person able to fully control the animal at all times.

I have yet to hear a reply, nor do I think I will - however I am livid. What has to happen to make these people see that this is not a good idea? An attack? A hit by car situation? We are in a small community with MANY dogs. There are only so many places to go and ways to avoid those not abiding the law. I try to talk, I try to ask nicely, but people treat me as I am asking them to perform heart surgery on the street. They ignore me, they placate me, they turn and walk away...
So do I have to carry around a copy of the leash law in my pocket and hand it out? I might just do that.
Do I have to talk to every police officer in the neighborhood about why they should enforce this law? I have already started. I need back up - I need actual support, more then anonymous people agreeing with me in a forum. This could turn into a really awful situation where dog fights happen, kids get knocked over, people get bitten.... this needs to stop. Dog parks exist for a reason - please use them.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Look into my....eye....

Picture it.  I was in an apartment feeding cats.  It is very nice building on a very nice block with about 6 units in it.  I bent down for a cat head scratch (her head, not mine) and there is a very sturdy knock at the door - slightly less aggressive than a police officer.  I am confused as I was on the 2nd floor of a locked building.  I opened the door only to find an older gentleman with greasy white hair, greasy leathery skin, 1 good eye and 1 white eye, and he was wearing dirty jeans and a dirty flannel.

He said, "I need to come in and change the air filter!"    I was taken aback because I was not expecting anyone to just show up, let alone to maintenance. I told him that this was not my apartment, I was just cat sitting and that no one told me that this was ok.  He repeated, "I need to change the air filters, it will just be a minute."  And again, told him that I need to talk to my client, I'm not ok with just letting them in.  Then another guy yells from upstairs, "It will just take a minute to change the filters, we will be right down."  I shut the door, call the client, she didn't pick up, and then a minute later they just come in stating that it will take a minute. I kept saying that I understand that, but I don't have the authority to just let people in.  It's not my apartment.  They basically brushed by me with a ladder and changed the filters and walked out.  Got a hold of the client later and luckily she was ok with it (happy that I happen to have been there for this fiasco).  But seriously, any other place that I have been where someone was there to do work and I was unaware of it, they understood why I wouldn't let them in.  These guys couldn't care less.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dog Park Policy

I felt the need to write this because I spoke to a potential new client today that wanted me to take his dog to the dog park right off the bat.  I told him no and explained why.  I find that I explain this quite often so I just wanted to put it out there in the open so that everyone understands my stance on dog parks and why I have very specific rules for myself and my clients.

I come from a medical background.  I worked in a vet office for 13 years.  I saw the aftermath of "dog park fun".  There were ears ripped off, brutal bite wounds that required drains to be surgically placed, lacerations that needed sutures, damages teeth, nails ripped out of the nail bed, even death from an attack..... you name it, I've seen it.  That is not including the many frantic phone calls that I answered that began with me words,  "My dog just got attacked at the dog park."   I have all of these things that lay dormant in my brain until someone says, "Can you bring my dog to the park so he can run off some of his energy?"

I will always say no.

Here is why:
* Your dog is not my dog.  I will not be liable for something awful happening on my watch when it could have been avoided.  I do not want to rush your dog to the emergency room.  I do not want to have to make that phone call to you, telling you to rush to the ER because we don't know if your dog is going to be ok.   Or that you have a huge vet bill because some other dog attacked your dog.

*  I am not the owner.  I am not the parent.  I am not the alpha.  I am the babysitter buddy that asserts authority when necessary.  That dog will never listen to me like they would listen to their owner. If something happens (another dog fight, thunder, crazy child taunting, crazy dog taunting, loud truck sounds, etc) and I have to get that dog outta there ASAP and I call for him/her to come,  they BETTER listen and come.  I will take a dog to the park if I know that that dog WILL listen to me and come when called.  This does not happen right away. ( Out of all of my clients, there are 2 dogs that I am completely comfortable with at the park.  That is it. )  Once we develop a relationship and the park is close by and the dog and I have mutual trust (and I know that the dog goes with the owner all of the time), then I will consider it.  It is just too risky otherwise.  I have insurance, but i don't want to have to use it.

* My main goal is safety.  When I come to walk your dog, I want that kiddo to stay SAFE!  You are trusting me with your kid, and that kid needs to be on a leash, away from cars, away from aggressive dogs, away from harmful things on the street to eat and walk on (chicken bones, glass, gum, dead rodents, mouse poison)  We jump, we play, we greet other people and dogs if we are all comfortable with it - but in the back of my mind I am assessing every situation.

* I know every dog that I walk like the back of my hand.  They all have their quirks.
Some hate the mailman that's on 8th street
Some hate UPS guys
Some hate Fedex guys
Some hate both
Some hate kids
Some pick up tissues and paper towels
Some try to walk on glass
Some try to get out of their gentle leader or harness a certain way
Some hate other dogs (some small, some big, or just all dogs)
Some hate skateboards or anything on wheels
Some hate homeless people
The list goes on and on - but I know them and treat them as if they were my own dogs.  I care just as much, and that is why I don't want to unnecessarily jeopardize their health and safety in any way if I can avoid it.  I am there for a potty break, some love, some treats, and a safe walk.
I urge you to not be upset that I don't feel comfortable taking your dog to the park, but know that I am making that judgement based on experience and love for the animal.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Diamonds Too Will Pass

                         A few weeks ago, this face allegedly ate 2 diamond wedding bands.

With every poop, we are picking it up in clear plastic and smushing it to see if diamonds appear.  Thus far, nothing has come out.  The owner tore her house apart  - so either this kiddo is living with precious gems in his intestines OR they are lost forever.  Until then, we will continue to have a close relationship with the poo.

Also, while I was walking Darius I passed by a guy that looked like a human version of him! Short, stocky, dark skinned, round head.... and as we passed him he goes,  "Hey, is that Darius?!" And I said, "Yes, are you two friends?"  And he replied, "Nah, I met him last week when I was walking with my kid.  Really funny because my name is Da-rye-us.  (I imagine it's spelled the same way and just pronounced differently)  How weird is that ?  Man looks like dog and has the same name?  Sometimes the universe just makes me smile.

Update : The rings have been recovered (not ingested by the dog)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Notes Are My Best Friend

Sometimes I will meet a new client a month or 2 before I actually have to go there and watch their cat.  Although I write everything down during our meeting, when I get to their house it is still sometimes a little fuzzy.  Sometimes people go above and beyond with notes all over the house and I LOVE it!  So helpful.
This was especially helpful over the Pope weekend when I was losing my mind to start with.  I went into her apartment and found this

So helpful!  In every room on every floor :)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Even MORE Unexpected Surprises

Finally a cool and breezy morning!  It was GLORIOUS to walk around to my morning visits.  Since it was a pretty light day, I got to spend some extra time at each house and meander around the streets taking in the fall like Sunday.  Then around 10 am I arrived at a cat visit in a high rise.  I had planned on killing some time there until my next dog at 11.  I walked in the door and was greeted by both cats, starving as usual.  I said my hellos, grabbed their canned food and headed to their bowls.  I emptied the first can into the first bowl and munching ensued. Then I went to grab the other can and noticed the other cat on the floor on his side stretching.  I immediately hit the floor with him saying his name and he was not responding.  His eyes were fixed and he stretched his legs out, made an odd facial expression, and then just relaxed.  He was having a heart attack right there in my lap and there was nothing that could be done.  Although it probably lasted about 10 seconds, it felt like 10 minutes.  I called the owner, no answer.  I called my husband to come and get me so that we could run him to the vet just to make sure, but I knew there was nothing I could do.  There was no carrier visible so I wrapped him in a towel and we took him to the vet that confirmed he had indeed passed.  I left 3 messages for the owner because I didn't know what she wanted to do, all the while trying to hold back tears.  I loved this cat - he was one of my favorites.  He did have cardiac issues and had been on heart medication for years. This cat was like a dog.  He was big and gray, with huge paws.  He learned tricks on command, he took his pills in peanut butter (forcefully), and he had a voracious appetite at all times.  He was a handsome devil and I will miss him terribly.  It's funny about animals dying from a heart attack.  It is so sudden and unexpected, but it is also so quick.  There is virtually no suffering, which is the only comforting factor. I'm glad that I was there so that he was not alone, but I hate that I was there because I had to watch a cat friend leave this earth before his time.  He should have lived to be 20 to become a cranky old man cat that walked with a limp and demanded his peanut butter by shaking his cat walker at me.  I am devastated, as is the owner.  There are no words to truly describe what I felt today. He will be missed and my heart goes out to his human mom and cat brother.

                                                R.I.P. Patrick - you were one amazing cat

After we left the vet, I wanted to cancel all my other visits and hide.  Since that was impossible, I had to head to the next dog walk and luckily Mike was willing to help me out with his car.  I took the dog out, we went for a nice walk in the cemetery (I guess that was appropriate), I get back to his car and the battery is dead.  Fucking great!  He called AAA and there was a "higher than normal wait time."  While he was waiting on hold, I got on facebook to ask if anyone was nearby that could give us a jump.  Thank God for social media - an old friend who I haven't seen ages was nearby and said he would jump us.  Perfect!  While we were waiting, 3 different people stopped to ask if we needed a jump.  We said thank you, but someone is on the way.  He pulls up and the jumper cables that were usually in his car were not there, so he went to go home to find them.  Two minutes later a guy pulls up with an SUV full of kids and asks if we need a jump.  We told him yes.  He said, "I have cables, but I don't have the time."  He lived down the street so he lent us the cables and said to just leave them in his driveway when we were done. (How about that??)  So we called my friend back to flip around and we got the car going.  Phew!

We got home, emotionally drained, and we rested for a little bit until I had to go back out for a few more visits.  Mike said that he would drive me.  I got back into the car and notice that he his holding a broken mirror. (Seriously??!!!) Apparently while I was walking the first dog, a truck drove by him and hit his sideview mirror. It shattered and flew down the street. The guy DID stop and apologize and gave him money to replace it.  Could the day get any worse?

We then headed to another high rise for a cat visit and the front desk couldn't find the key to the apartment.  It SHOULD have been there, I returned it last night. So then I had to go upstairs and wait for maintenance
 to let me in.  He found me sitting on the floor by her door with my knees under my chin.

So there you go, death does come in 3's.  The cat, the battery, the mirror.  I am drained physically.  I am drained emotionally.  All I want to do is watch Netflix in the dark and sleep.  Today was literally "One of those days"

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Expect the Unexpected

I had the same dogs for a lunch and dinner visit today.  I went there at 1 pm and all was normal.  I went back at 5 and saw that the one dog came out of the crate with her fur all wet on her torso.  Upon closer inspection, I saw that she had chewed a chunk of fur off and had been chewing her itchy skin for the past 4 hours.  Sigh....

I called the owner to see if she had any topical ointment or an e-collar.  She did not, so I ran her over to the vet (1 block away) to get an e-collar and attempt to get some ointment.  If she chewed on herself for the rest of the night,  she would probably end up  needing oral antibiotics.  Even though I was the annoying client that I always complained about just walking in and asking for meds, she got what she needed and will  hopefully have a more comfortable evening.  Much thanks to QVAH for helping me out yet again!