A Day in the Life of A Dog Walker

(Originally published March 25, 2009)

I used to work at Victoria’s Secret. Then I was a camp counsellor (ok, well, I’ve been doing that since I was 16). Next came being a professional internet surfer receptionist. Now I walk and board dogs. Although I’m looking for something else on the side while I develop a larger clientele. I kind of want an Etsy store because I think it would be fun…but I digress.

Part of figuring out how to be an artist in the modern day real world is figuring out how not to actually starve. This is what is known as the day job. Now, I’ve decided that mine must be at least somewhat satisfying or I will lose my mind. It’s all about finding interesting and viable alternatives. So here is a day in my day job life:

7:30 a.m. Early morning bathroom trip for me. The three dogs sprawled across my one room apartment look at me briefly in the hopes that this means it’s time for a walk. They are sadly disappointed.

7:35 a.m. Phone rings. Seriously? I am intrigued as to who is calling me at this hour and, more importantly, why. This office doesn’t open until 9. Sometimes 11. Someone needs their dog walked. Today. I absorb as many details as possible at this ungodly hour.

7:36 a.m. I am asleep again. Now the three dogs are all in my bed.

9:10 a.m. Shocked that none of the puppies are whining to go out yet. I walked them late last night for this reason. Phone rings again. My aunt, the original dog walker. We’re meeting up for a puppy party.

9:35 a.m. On our way. The Black Lab poops on someone’s lawn, sidewalk, and driveway for a solid ten minutes. This is gross. It’s also part of the job. The first bag has a hole in it. I curse the fates and wipe the liquid dog poo off my hand. Yeah, you’re icked out now, aren’t you? It isn’t even noon.

9:47 a.m. We make it to the off leash park. No puppy party yet. I feed the Lab my apple core. Labs will eat anything. Which probably explains the events of 9:35 a.m.

9:50 a.m. The aunt comes zipping around the corner with a Duck Toller in her front seat (like a Golden Retriever, but more of a redhead). Three Black Labs, a black Golden Doodle, a Weimeraner mutt, the Toller, and a Collie-like dog pile out of the vehicle. That’s seven dogs, in case you weren’t keeping track. I have three. This makes ten. Basic math is key to walking dogs.

9:54 a.m. We let them off leash.

9:55 a.m. Three dogs are rolling in mud puddles. This includes my white long haired Golden Doodle. Then they drink the water. Blech. Now they smell like swamp.

9:56 a.m. They chase tennis balls and each other around for an hour. There is a fat Black Lab named Lizzie. They pick on her. Playground dynamics work in the dog world too, it seems.

11:01 a.m. Time to start heading home or they’ll run until they drop dead. They’re far more subdued on the walk home. We creep into my building quietly. I am avoiding the landlady. I do not want to answer questions about why I have these three crazy dogs. I feel it could be detrimental to the tenant-landlord relationship.

11:10 a.m. After having a drink splashing water all over my floor and wrestling on my bed, it’s time for a puppy nap. The Golden Doodle takes the bed, the Black Lab takes the couch, and the little one whose breed I can’t remember and whom I will therefore refer to as Little Bitch takes the giant dog bed. I relax.

11:12 a.m. I sign into Twitter to see what’s going on in the world. It’s behaving strangely this morning. The Black Lab vomits all over my couch.

11:30 a.m. I have finished cleaning my couch. Fortunately I am smart and had it covered with a sheet. Google Reader time. The puppies are watching The View. We flipped a coin and I lost so they got to pick the station. Either that or I only have two and I don’t do soap operas that aren’t Coronation Street.

11:58 a.m. I am restless and feel compelled to troll craigslist for a second job. Then I realize that none of these jobs look fun. I play Snood instead.

12:03 p.m. The Golden Doodle is still covered in dirt and dead leaves. I throw him in my bathtub and climb in after him. We do bathtub battle until his paws are clean. As if my apartment isn’t already destroyed.

12:35 p.m. One of my best friends texts me to see if I want to do lunch. I decide this is an excellent idea but that it requires me to pull my life together.

1:04 p.m. I get to my regular Black Lab’s house to let him out for his midday bathroom break. On the counter are puppy booties, saran wrap, duct tape, and a leash. He is perpetually injured. This is another Lab trait. I put the booty on over his already bandaged foot. I haven’t seen him in a week but apparently his toenail issues have not resolved themselves.

1:26 p.m. Broken Black Lab is done hopping and hobbling around the neighbourhood. I feed him many treats. He is a treat whore. He will do just about anything for treats. I will do just about anything for chocolate. So we understand each other.

1:39 p.m. I arrive at the home of the new puppy, the 7:30 a.m. phone call puppy. He appears confused. He doesn’t know me and his response is to pretend he’s a statue. Worst. Guard. Dog. Ever. But it works well for me at this particular moment. And we wander through the park.

2:09 p.m. I return the new puppy to his home and spend just enough time fiddling with the very complicated lock to miss the bus. I decide to just follow the bus route and walk to the subway station instead of waiting 20 minutes for a bus.

2:17 p.m. I am lost in Rosedale. This is inevitable. But I can still see the C.N. Tower, so I figure not all is lost. And I continue to head in what I think is the direction of the subway.

2:29 p.m. I cross the longest, sketchiest pedestrian bridge (or maybe I just don’t like heights) and wind up at Sherbourne subway station. Not where I intended, but not so far off track. I head downtown.

2:45 p.m. At Yonge and Adelaide I find out best friend had her car and could’ve rescued me from the labyrinth of Rosedale. But I’m hungry and that’s more important. We go to Fran’s Restaurant. We share Mozzarella Sticks. I have Eggs Benedict. She has nachos and salad. We talk about Very Important Things. While wearing yoga pants. Because real clothes are for people with real jobs.

4:00 p.m. We’ve paid our bill. I was supposed to be walking my friend the Wheaton about half an hour ago. Really, this is not a big deal. But I feel guilty because he is probably thinking where the eff is she right now? Best friend drives me all the way to the Mt. Pleasant and Davisville region. It takes longer than it should because Toronto traffic is dumb.

4:34 p.m. I walk the Wheaton in the Belt Line, which is the trail/park that begins behind Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. He panics at the bridge over Yonge Street. He’s afraid of subway trains.

5:02 p.m. I take the bus home. I decide I am allowed to be a bit lazy. Lazy continues chez moi.

7:00 p.m. Oh, how I love Coronation Street.

7:30 p.m. I skip Jeopardy to walk the puppies. They’ve earned it. Little Bitch pulls on the leash the whole way. It is otherwise uneventful.

8:03 p.m. We return home. Now they wrestle and chase each other from the bed to the floor, across the couch, back to the floor, and onto the bed again. Eventually they will settle. Until then I will ignore them.

9:12 p.m. Puppies are unconscious. Amazing. I am free to enjoy the interwebs.

10:21 p.m. Another close friend texts me to tell me she is bored on a date with her work place “boyfriend.” He thinks they’re dating, she thinks they’re just sleeping together. The thing about dog walking is that the only office drama is about who is being a ball hog at the park. Wait, maybe they are the same thing.

11:37 p.m. Last late night walk to the end of the street and back. They look reluctant to move until I pick up a leash. The Black Lab is snoring. I understand how they feel as this exercise requires me to put pants on. But now they will sleep until I decide to wake up. Or someone calls. You know, whatever.

And that is more or less how it goes. Of course, I don’t have three dogs living with me on a regular basis, but you know, you get the idea. I appreciate the flexibility, even on a busy day. Plus, it keeps me sane in that animals are all about keeping it real. With them, it is what it is and there really isn’t any B.S. Plus, I get a lot of exercise and I get to be outside. So I thought I’d share that with all of you.

And, of course, I want to know what you do for your day job? And, more importantly, what keeps you from losing your minds while you do it?

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4 responses to “A Day in the Life of A Dog Walker

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