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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.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

First Impressions = Client Blind Dates

I always do meet and greets with new clients before working for them.  It is the nature of the business.  It starts with a phone call, a text, or an email.  We go over the basics, then we set a "date."   I usually try to meet people in the morning so that I am fairly fresh and don't smell like I have just walked 16 dogs. Sometimes I walk in there looking fresh and awake, possibly even dressed nicely.  Sometimes I walk in with drool and animal hair all over me after having worked a full day looking a bit haggard.

After doing this for 15 years and I have pretty much seen everything.  New meetings can usually go 1 of 3 ways.

Number 1:  The client knows EXACTLY what they want to tell you and they go into so much detail that you are there for at least an hour.   Don't get me wrong, I want to know as much as possible, but I don't always need to watch them show me all the different ways that they play with their cat (unless it's something really cool!)

Number 2: The clients welcome me into their home and silently stare at me until I ask all the questions.  I get it, they may have never done this before and they don't really know what to do.  I have to take charge and get all of the information that I need and hope that they are more comfortable than they appear.

Number 3:  The clients that are extremely prepared with notes and a key.  They give me a quick overview and I am outta there in 10-15 minutes.

I am perpetually early, which means that usually I have to wait for them if they are not home yet.  I have waited for up to 30 minutes for new clients to show up.  I have seen disastrous houses that clients don't mention.  I have seen impeccably clean houses that clients call disastrous.   I had a client greet me at the door with a large amount of cocaine all over his nostril.  I have been given full house tours and I have been given the quick kitchen/basement tour.  Some people have gone on a dog walk WITH me off the bat, some have handed me a key and I never heard from them again.

Depending on what time of day I come, the animals might feel differently about me as well.  If I come at the end of my day and smell like 20 different dogs, cats tend to hiss and run away.  Dogs are either engrossed or wary.  If I come first thing in the morning and I smell like my house and soap, I get entirely different reactions.

People are very very different in how they deal with certain situations.  Every new client meeting is an adventure and I never know what to expect.  I just always hope that a good story comes out of it.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

We miss you Jacob!

Last week we lost a furry part of our family. Little Jacob (Jacup) had a blood clot that came out of nowhere that left him paralyzed from the waist down and put him into immediate congestive heart failure. I found him in the morning and we rushed him to the emergency room at 7am. Unfortunately when something like this happens, there isn't really anything that can be done, so we had to make the choice to say goodbye to our little friend. He was so young and it is just not fair.  When we adopted him from the shelter, you could tell that he was badly bred.  He had some deformities and overall just seemed bewildered at life.  I fell in love with him immediately.

We took him home and soon realized that he didn't know how to be a cat.  He learned from the cats around him, and every day he became more of a cat.  I knew that because of his weird medical issues (intermittent daily vomiting, odd hair growth, corneal scar, crooked spine, insatiable hunger ) and physical abnormalities that he may not live as long as we wanted, but I certainly thought it would be longer than this.

Nothing bothered him.  Nothing made him angry. He never hissed or growled.  He was literally the happiest and sweetest cat that I have ever known.  Every animal and person that came into our house was his friend.  He LOVED people food.  He LOVED chasing balls with bells in them.  And he LOVED sneaking up on you to lick your cheek.  He showed his affection in such an odd and amazing way.  He made us laugh every day and brought us such joy.  We were lucky to have had him for the short time that we did, I wouldn't trade it for anything.   The energy in the house is different and we all miss him terribly.  I can only hope that he has little cat angel wings and is looking over us all.

We dressed him as a bumble bee and took him out for Halloween

Confused when he was first at our house

Easter Hat

Sleeping with his best friend Max

Hanging out with the guinea pigs

He always made a bed out of my outerwear

Tolerating Max humps

Taking it out on the blanket by humping the fleece

Best buddies

Chin lick or chin bite?

He loved to sleep in any bag. Any time.

Bumble Bee

Persian brigade

Farmer Jacob

Christmas Jacob