Three pet sitters give us a peek at what really goes on behind the professional dog walking scenes.
Give Me a Break
"I had just loaded my weekly grocery haul into my trunk and slid in behind the wheel to head to my 8am walk. It was going to be another long ten hours of pet care, which was a typical work day for me during those days when my business had really started to take off but I hadn't yet hired employees I could delegate to. My phone buzzed as I started to pull away, and I put the car in park, unlocked the screen, and blinked at the message from one of my newer clients, Linda. She was already proving herself to be somewhat of a handful, and we'd been having some growing pains adjusting her expectations to the reality of what services I could provide for her and her bichon frise. For example, she was disappointed right off the bat that I wasn't able to do twice daily 30 minute runs, only walks, but she begrudgingly opted to try out my services anyway.
"Her text read, 'Hi Molly, I thought you were fully booked today?' She had called the night before to try to fit in an hour walk for her pup that morning; I had offered her the only slot I had left during her time preference, which was for a group dog walk, but she'd turned it down, preferring to stick to her dog's usual private walks.
"I texted back, 'Yes that's right, did you want to book something for a different day?'
"'Then explain to me how I just watched you leave the grocery store. You're obviously not fully booked if you have time to dilly dally all morning around town.' Mind you, it was 7:45am, far too early to be dealing with this nonsense.
"I closed my eyes and filtered dozens of potential responses through my over-caffeinated brain cells: 'What you saw was me taking 15 minutes out of my morning to purchase the nourishment required to be available for walks ten hours a day, seven days a week.' 'Do your clients yell at you before work for daring to have time off?' 'Would you like me to explain to you the concept of "hours of operation?"'
"What I finally responded was, 'Thanks for your interest in my services; unfortunately I don't think it's going to be a good fit. Have a great day!'
"As the onslaught of cursing and threats to "ruin" me ensued, I switched the sound off on my phone, turned it upside down in the passenger seat, and put the car into drive. That was the morning I learned you can't make everyone happy, but you can make some people really, really irrationally furious. Which is best to get out of the way as early on in your relationship as possible, so you can go ahead and dodge that massive Matrix level bullet. I still tend to overwork myself and stay a bit too available, but now I do it exclusively for clients who respect and appreciate me (and have a basic understanding of the human need for time off)."
"I had a daily walk with a super sweet bulldog whose parents were slightly helicopter-ish. They'd check up on us during visits via the nanny cam, and sometimes they'd text me things like, 'Make sure you wipe Bella's paws when you get back!' when they could clearly see on camera that I had done so every visit for the past year. Pretty harmless, if redundant requests, which I had no problem answering to put their minds at ease. One Friday when I arrived at the front door for Bella's walk, my phone dinged with a message from her dad: 'Hey Jackie, I saw my wife write a note on the doggy cam this morning, would you mind taking a quick pic and sending it to me before you leave?'
"I found the scribbled-on receipt on the kitchen counter and couldn't help but read the message as I texted a photo to the husband; I swear I almost sprained my neck from cringing so hard. The receipt showed a purchase for KY lube with a penned note from his wife: 'You disgusting pervert and liar; you had anal sex with her at your office?.. You are a dirtbag.' I waited the longest two minutes of my life for the husband's response to come in, which simply read, 'I swear I didn't do that.'
"The following Monday, I received a text from the husband letting me know that his wife left and took the dog, and they'd no longer be needing my services. I still don't know if I buy this version of events, or if in actuality they couldn't live with the embarrassment, opting to make up a story and hire a fresh, new dog walker who hadn't been confronted with the skeletons in their closet. Can't say I'd blame them!"
"As an easily distracted person, I've had my share of embarrassing autocorrect mishaps, but never with a client! I was locking up after the walk and heading for my car when I hastily sent this text off to Dexter's human, running on autopilot, already thinking about my next walk. Luckily I screwed the pooch with this super cool lady in particular and not with one of my more easily-scandalized clients. You only make this mistake once in a professional setting, and then the paranoia that it'll happen again becomes permanently intrenched in your soul. These days taking 30 seconds to do a reread before hitting 'send' is a part of my identity."