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Sunday, February 21, 2016

HEADLINE: Woman Owns Dog - Has NO Emotion

Last week I was in Washington Square Park walking a sweet older Golden Retriever.

 This is a dog that seeks out love wherever he is.  Mainly from people, but sometimes from other dogs.  Usually he couldn't care less about other dogs in the park, but last week he would spontaneously get very excited with certain dogs!  We were walking in the park one day and I noticed that there was a girl walking a boxer towards us.  I never know how he will react, so I just played it cool and we kept walking.  They got very close, but the owner didn't say anything to me.  Normal dog etiquette in a park is to say, "Hey, can they say hello? "  or " Is he/she friendly?"  She said nothing and Finn seemed interested (as did the boxer) so I said, "You wanna say hi Finn?"  He then bounded over to the boxer and the woman (who were at that point about 2 feet away from us) jumping and smiling and showing interest.  So I said to her, "I guess he really wanted to say hi!  More so to you it seems ! "  He just wanted head pets from her.  She literally said nothing.  Looked at me, and at her dog, acted like she didn't want to pet him.... and seemed generally annoyed.  What she did not do was walk away from us and the boxer seemed thoroughly confused.  So I was completely weirded out and just talked to Finn saying, "Come on, let's go home...."  

Why would you walk your dog up to another dog and not speak? Or even acknowledge that the other person is speaking to you.  And then seem annoyed, yet not willing to remove yourself from the situation? This girl is probably in her early 30's and obviously taking the dog all over the city. I encounter dogs with owners and walkers ALL DAY LONG. I have never seen this happen.

Today I was walking another dog in a completely different neighborhood and we usually go to the church cemetery to "do our business."  We get to the gated entrance and I see her and the boxer again!!  She is reading the sandwich board in front of the church and trying to take a picture of it - however the boxer is sitting right in the middle of the entrance that I need to pass through.  The dog that I was walking this time can get a little crazy around other dogs so we try not to interact with new ones if we don't have to.  Here I am standing across the street , watching her take pictures of this church sign and after about 2 minutes I just decided to cross because they obviously weren't moving.  I stopped within a few feet and said, "Excuse me, we need to pass by and get in there, she's not always good with other dogs."  The girls reply was, " You are allowed to bring dogs to church?" And I said, "No... we aren't going TO church, we are walking around in the grass over here." (meanwhile the dog I had was pulling and barking and fussing trying to get at this boxer) She just looked at me blankly.  I asked of she could just move the dog out of the way so that we could squeeze by.  As she barely pulled on the leash calling his name, her reply was, "Oh, it's ok.  He won't move. He just won't move, sorry."      WHAT?????  You walked your dog ON A LEASH about a 1/2 mile from where I saw you the last time, but he "won't move."  So I had to drag an overly anxious dog right by him while he say stoic as can be.

Twice in one week this woman has driven me insane and I fear that I will keep running into her and be forced to say something.... unpleasant.   Here is a helpful hint.  When you own a dog and you don't want to interact with other people or dogs, stay away from heavily populated areas on nice days!!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Client Breakup - It was Mutual

Losing clients is never easy.  Well, sometimes it is a relief.  I have let very few go because I am bad with break ups, but some just had to be done.  They usually involved the animals attacking me over and over again and it just wasn't worth the $15 to deal with it.  Sometimes clients have stopped using me and that's ok too.  Although I try, I can't please everyone.

There is a story from late summer/early fall that I have been holding back on because I didn't know if circumstances would change.  Now that enough time has passed, I will tell this story.

Last year I received a call from a new client that needed a dog walker.  They were moving close to me and although I was pretty booked, I agreed to meet them.  They were very nice, as was the dog.  The dog had very little training.  She was sweet as pie, but she didn't listen at all.  She was rambunctious, never stopped jumping, was aggressively playful with dogs on the street.... she was exhausting.  But she was very endearing so I agreed to walk her.  It was a pretty set schedule every week for about 6 months.  I always dealt with the husband, never the wife.  Many times he was home when I got there or would come home as I was leaving.  (odd that I would still be needed.... but whatever)

 Then they just disappeared for about 2-3 months.  I didn't hear from them at all.  They didn't say that they wouldn't need me for a while or that they were going to use someone else.  They just fell off the grid.  When that happens, I can only assume that they found another walker or decided not to use one anymore.  Figuring that this was the case, I took on 2 more dogs to replace their dog.  Then out of nowhere I receive a text from the husband that says they need me that next week for 4 days.  There was no explanation as to where they had been for the past few months, just that I was needed again.  I took a deep breath and agreed because  I for some reason felt obligated.  In the back of my mind I was going to have a talk with him and tell him that I took on more dogs when they stopped using me.  I was going to tell him that they can't just call out of nowhere and expect that my schedule can accommodate their needs at the drop of a hat.  I held it in and went to walk the dog that next day.  He was home and informed me that the next week he was going overseas so they would need me 2 times everyday because the wife was working all week.  (UGH!)  I was floored, but agreed because I didn't want to screw him over and leave them scrambling at the last minute.  (Yes, I am well aware that this is what they did to me).  After I agree to a breakfast and lunch walk, he then tells me that while he is away and the wife is working, they are having their entire house painted.  Yeah.

The summary of the week went like this.  The painters were there painting ALL OVER and the dog was down a flight of steps in a crate.  They were painting around the dog.  They were painting the stairs that the dog had to use to go outside.  They were painting the baseboards along the stairs that the dog had to pass to get outside.  I had to wrangle a jumping, wiggly, 60 lb pit mix through the house and try not to fuck up their paint job while they yelled, "Careful!"  They left drop cloths and paint pans directly in my way, never answered me when I yelled up to them to see what was wet, and were essentially in the way the entire time I was there.  On top of that, the wife would text me and change the walk times to fit her schedule better.  I again, accommodated her but I was thinking, "What a load of crap this all is!"  The second to last day I walked her in the morning and we ran into one of the painters that she liked when we were leaving.  She nearly knocked a can out of his hand.  On the second walk, I came in to wet paint all down the stairs and drop cloths at the foot of the steps.  I yelled up to see what was wet and no one answered.  I leashed her in the crate and put her out back to pee so there would be no accidents while trying to get up the steps.  The husband always told me that if she seemed anxious I could put her out back to pee first and then take her out.  This was what I did.

Later that evening I received a call from the wife asking me is I walked the dog that day.  I of course told her yes, and she said, "Well, the painters said that you were just there for 5 minutes to put her out back and then you left. "  WHAT??  So we went back and forth for a bit, I assured her that I walked the dog and that they even saw me!  She kept saying, "Well, I'm just telling you what they told me.  I'm just the messenger."  She had this tone like she didn't believe a word I was saying.  And um, how about this - I don't interfere with what the painters and their job, so why are they interfering with mine?  After a ten minute conversation involving me defending my integrity, she asked if I could come earlier the next day.   I said yes, and we decided on a time. She said she would be leaving extremely early and that the dog wouldn't eat that early, but that she would leave a bowl of food out and the painters would feed her and let her out back to pee before I got there.  (Not their job)  I offered a few times to just come earlier to feed and walk her and she said no and assured me that the painters would do it.

The next morning I arrived at the agreed upon time and what did I find?  The bowl of food (full) next to the closed crate and the dog in the crate freaking out staring at it with 5 painters in the same room.  So they didn't feed her, they didn't let her out (she barely made it out the front door before she peed and pooped), and they were just standing around telling me to be careful of the wet paint.  She was so terrified of one of the painters that she wouldn't come back down to her crate until he stood at least 10 feet away.  I texted the wife as soon as I left and told her that the dog peed and pooped, and for the record, the painters did NOT feed her or let her out.  Her reply was this , "Thanks for the info.  Would you please leave the keys on her crate after the second walk?  My husband will be home next week and he can take care of the walks."  I replied, "Absolutely."  

We both knew that it was the end.  If she didn't ask me to leave the keys, I would have told her to find someone else the next day.  It was a mutual breakup, but here is the thing.  You use a dog walker for 6 months, then you believe your painters over the dog walker that bent over backwards to accommodate you last minute?  These are not clients that I need.  It's a shame really, because I do miss the dog.  I never confronted the painters (even though I was dying to) , but I did get the chance to get my dig in with their irresponsibility.  I'd say that there are no hard feeling, but there are.  I stand by my word and to have that questioned in such a harsh way was very new to me.  I don't ever expect an apology, nor will I get one.  Months have passed and I just avoid them like the plague.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Needy Neighbors

I love my neighbors. Most of them.  I do not love all of my clients neighbors.  Some are very nice and quick to help out, some think you are a psychotic burglar, and some just like to take advantage of the fact that their neighbor is away.  Over the summer I was cat sitting for a regular client and her nextdoor neighbor has her key.  She knew that my client was away and also knew that I was coming in to feed the cats.  Her daughter was getting married and she had a TON of family at her house.  Now, I totally understand how hectic weddings are.  HOWEVER, when your neighbor says that you can use her space in the front of her house and you inconvenience the pet sitter, you are just taking advantage.

To get into the house, there is a gate, and then a front door through the gate.  This is what I came in to.
She told her family that they were allowed to put their bags behind the gate.  You can see the top left corner of the front door.  I couldn't get in to the house to feed the cats, I couldn't move peoples luggage (who knows what was in there, and there was alot of it!)  So I had to wait to find the neighbor and have her tell the family to clear me a path.  This all took up about 20 minutes.  Again, I know things were hectic, but this is really inconsiderate to me as well as the family that had to move all of their crap out of the way for me.  

This was my path.  Couldn't lock the gate because people might need their stuff. My job is to lock the gate and keep my clients house secure.  The whole thing was a mess and the neighbor isn't even that nice to me when I see her on a regular day.  The whole ordeal was beyond my control, but for all of you that think that what I do is smooth sailing, easy peasy work - think again.  Even an extra 20 minutes can throw my whole day off when the schedule is full.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

To Declaw or Not to Declaw, THAT is the question

I just read a petition to ban cat declawing in the state of Colorado.  This is something that I wholeheartedly agree with.  Well, I agree about 95%.  I don't think that cats should be declawed.  I have 8 cats, they all have their claws.  My furniture is intact (except for my leather dining chairs, but I have learned my lesson and the next set-o-chairs will be of a different material) The following is the description of declawing from the petition and I think it's a great summary:

 Essentially, you are cutting the top knuckle off of your cats paw. People often mistakenly believe that declawing your cat will stop them from scratching, but in reality all you're doing is making it less likely that your cat will use the litter box and more likely to start biting instead of scratching. To remove the claw they amputate with a scalpel or with guillotine clippers, then the wounds are closed with surgical glue, and then the feet are bandaged. There are many drawbacks to declawing your cat as well, such as: pain in the paw, infection, tissue necrosis (tissue death), lameness, and back pain. When you remove your cats claws it changes the way their feet touch the ground, feeling like the equivalent of wearing an uncomfortable set of shoes. So please, let's put a stop to this!

I have witnessed the act of declawing numerous times while working at different vets.  It sucked each and every time.  Two of the practices that I worked for would ONLY do front declaws, not the back (unless the circumstances called for it).  Post op, the cats were always miserable.  They were bandaged to the elbow, they couldn't walk properly, they were in pain, and they just wanted to see their feet.  On occasion we would come into them in a cage splattered with blood because they somehow got their bandages off and flailed around so much that they reopened their wounds.  

There are some instances where it is necessary though, so I don't believe that banning completely is the answer.  If you do that, the cats will have to go to Tijuana with the humans to get cheaper surgeries that they won't do in the states. (Watch the show Botched on E, you will understand what I am talking about)

Here is where I agree that a cat should be declawed:
*  If the owner has or develops an immune deficiency disorder  (HIV/AIDS, lymphodema, cancer, etc) and their life could be threatened by a cat scratch

* If the cat is polydactyl (extra toes).  Not all polydactyl cats have the same amount of toes.  There are some that have TINY toes with a full nail in the middle of 2 other toes and that nail almost always grows into the pad because it has nowhere else to go. I fully support declawing that tiny toenail to prevent it from growing into the pad constantly.  I actually had to do this for one of my rescue cats. 

*The last reason is one that I try to avoid giving advice on, but if an adult cat is HORRIBLE for nail trims.  I mean horrible (scratching, biting, spitting, growling, screaming), then I might recommend a declaw.  Especially if you tried sedating the cat with drugs beforehand and they still don't calm down.  Still on the fence with this one, but there are some cats that just WILL NOT take you restraining them and touching their feet.  Sedatives help, but not always. 

What I always found interesting is that there are many people that don't even know you  CAN clip a cats nails.  They just think they are supposed to be declawed, like they are supposed to be spayed and neutered.  I have asked people who have called to make declaw appointments, "Have you tried to do nail trims and they are just really bad for it?"  Most of the time the response was , "No, I didn't even know that you could do that."  (Baffling to me because WE have fingernails that we cut.... cats have nails too....and dogs...and guinea pigs... etc)

Soft Paws are also another option that just glue on to the nails themselves.  They don't love it, but they acclimate.

Should declawing be banned? Maybe, but there are always exceptions to the rule.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Mystery fan club

Almost every day for the last year we have walked Bailey down a certain street by his house and when we passed by this one house, we heard scrambling dog sounds, and then squeaks.  This sweet brindle dog would see another dog coming down the street and run to get her squeaky toy.  She was prepared at her storm door for when we passed. She would smile and squeak her toy incessantly to try to get Baileys attention.  It was so endearing, however he would just walk away and ignore her completely!  

Today we were walking Bailey with another dog and we see him smiling at this pit mix a block away who is smiling back and wagging her tail like crazy.  As we were talking to the owner and he said what street he lived on, I asked if it was this dog that always brought the squeaky toy to the door.  It was!  So funny!  In person and outside they were quite fond of each other ;)  

Who knew that is semi- secret admirer would finally win him over?!