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.