Friday, July 29, 2011

Mutley crew

So, unfortunately, it's not always fun and games to walk dogs. One of my crew, in particular, has a tendency to be a complete pain in the ass. He is a big dog, who gets little attention at home. He spends about 14 hours a day unattended in his yard, with a high fence so he can only imagine what may be going on outside of it. As a result, my 30 minutes with him bring on an anxious and highly excitable state. He is sweet and loving when I fact, he can recognize the sound of my car and begins to bark before I even park out front. As soon as I enter the gate he is ready to go. I make him wait while I scratch his back and tummy, stroke his ears and discuss my plan for the day's adventure. Finally, we head out and he immediately begins to pull and scratch to get up the steps and onto street level. He chases everything...FedEx and UPS trucks are a favorite is the unfortunate mail person who makes a (wise) point to dodge us. This dog knows every house where a dog lives, may have lived at some point, may have visited or even sniffed while walking by...and at each of these homes he growls, becomes excited and tries to pull away from me. Now, I am a strong woman (especially after 5 months with this rascal!) He yanks so hard some days I think he will pull me over. I wrap the leash around my arm several times and even have a special leash made for aggressive dogs. At least once a week he gets the better of me and I end up with a bruise, contusion or some sort of injury. On these occasions, I get angry, but rarely with him. He can't help it. I am angry with his parents who don't give him enough attention, and don't walk him themselves to see how troubling it can be for him. if that's not enough...there's the poop issue. Yes, he is a very furry guy, particularly around the back end. So, when he is excited, his poop often is "loose". A hairy butt and loose stool equal trouble. Enough said there...I'm sure you get the gist. By the time our 30 minutes is approaching its end, I am exhausted, he is more so and we get back to his yard. He immediately runs to his favorite shady spot, which is on a retaining wall that separates the patio from the yard area. Suddenly, he is the cutest and sweetest baby in the universe, patiently waiting while I fill his water bowl from the hose and bring it to him in his spot for a drink. I've taught him to give me a kiss when I bring his water, and he drinks while I rub his head and ears and neck. He drinks in my affection and the last bit of attention he will have until I see him again the next day. I am no longer irritated at his bad behavior, and instead am happy to be his source of love in the world. I am also happy that this part of my daily rounds is complete and I am soon off to the next furball awaiting my visit.

I'm happy it's Friday. My own sweet babies are happy mama is home to be with them for two full days!

Wag more. Bark less.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

People versus Fur

It occurs to me often that perhaps one of the reasons I enjoy my furry friends so much is that they don't talk back. It's not that I don't enjoy talking to and with's just that maybe I've gotten tired of it. My typical career day would consist of early morning conference calls, followed by internal team meetings to address the requests from the early morning conference calls, followed by responding to a slew of emails, texts, online postings and tweets and returning phone calls...all resulting in a need for more internal meetings to "discuss". Technology has given us so many tools to use in communication, it's impossible to get away from it all. many times have you taken a call while in the bathroom...hoping no one enters unexpectedly to blow your cover? C'mon...we all do it...I hear others. And, while I'm on this topic...if you do happen to enter a bathroom and hear someone clearly on the phone pretending to be in their you flush and blow their cover or politely wait until it's safe? Think about that for a minute. (I wait...when I can.) I'm digressing here, but back to the dogs. I talk incessantly to my dogs. I'm certain I am becoming recognized in several neighborhoods as that crazy woman who talks to dogs all day like they are humans. "Good morning my sweet boy, how was your night? I missed you so much. Wanna go for a walk today? I was thinking we'd go visit your duckie friends and maybe hit the hill up to Cambridge street on the way back...sound fun?" He responds with a wag and a few licks, occasionally a bark. What more do I need? In my career world, the decision to go visit the duckie friends would probably require at least a two-hour discussion about best route, agenda for duckie friend meeting, proposed follow-up activities, etc...My doggies couldn't care less. The only follow-up activity required by them is a treat and fresh water upon return. Occasionally, they prefer to drink from the garden hose while I fill the water bowl...but that rarely requires discussion beyond, "Come here boy and get a drink!"

I think I'll stick with the dogs, at least for now.

Wag more. Bark less.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

And, I should say...

Dog walking isn't all I do these days. I have a freelance client who is actually in my field of healthcare communications. It's a nice 20+ hour a week gig and it supplements my income. The freelance work is done in early mornings and late afternoon & evenings, when the doggies are with their parents and don't need me. My hope is to continue my sabbatical at least through the end of the year, and by then, perhaps the economy will pick up and my field may again offer promising employment without the significant potential of cutbacks again. We'll see. I may just keep doing this for as long as I don't mind making less money than I made in 1997. Hmmm...what am I missing? Fashion? A really good haircut and color every few months? Good wine (cheap is not bad)? Vacations? A fancy new car? When I put those things into the missing column set next to the "what am I gaining" column...I am very fulfilled. I am also grateful to have the good health to allow me to maintain such an active schedule at this stage in my life.

Wag more. Bark less.'s me wagging.

Fur is my friend

After nearly 20 years in my "real" career, with 4 layoffs in 3 years...I recently decided to take a bit of a sabbatical. Not what I planned when I moved from home in Cincinnati to Minneapolis to push my career to a new level. Not what I planned when I moved again 18 months later to San Francisco for yet another "great opportunity". Just some time off to recharge and reinvigorate my life, while waiting to see the economy rebound. I had no idea when I answered a random ad for a dog walker that this would be my next adventure. That was in March. Now, it's late July. I walk dogs. One or two at a time. I go to the doggie's home and visit each day. We play. We snuggle. We walk. My dogs are always thrilled to see me and rarely complain about the weather. I walk in beautiful neighborhoods and explore areas of the East Bay I wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to see from this perspective. I am in great shape physically after 5 months doing this. My walks in the Hills are challenging and fun. I feel like I am doing something for myself and others.

I am struck by the gardens and the flowers. It's not like Ohio where flowers mostly bloom between May and September...out here...there are always full blooms of some sort. The colors change with the seasons, but the beauty remains throughout the year. Lately, I've watched the fog flow out in the mornings, and often back in again mid afternoon. From the Hills, I look out over the Bay toward the city and the Golden Gate, and I watch the fog coming in or going out above or below the bridge. It's beautiful. I think for my first year here, I didn't have the sense that fog was different from clouds. In my sun = clouds. But now, I've learned the difference. Fog moves differently through the air. It hangs lightly on the skin and hovers in place. It is beautiful, and ethereal...sometimes warm and other times cool.

My dogs are special. I've grown attached to Zena, Mocha, Poppy, Tilly, JoJo, Chou Chou, Silvie, Fanny, Isabel and sweet Leo. Each dog brings its own energy to our time together, and each day is different and fun. I give them treats and a ton of love and affection. They don't care how I look, what I did last night, what I'm wearing or if my hair is tucked up in a ball cap. All they know is when I arrive, it's time for something special, and they look forward to our visits. I also know that when I leave, it signals that soon Moms and/or Dads will be home from work, and all will be right with their worlds.

So, I will share musings from my walks. I think a lot while walking. Yes, I talk to the dogs...we have endless one way conversations about anything that comes into my mind. I love hummingbirds and see them all the time out here. We see deer, squirrels, birds of all kinds, cats, dogs and people. We discover the rhythm of the neighborhood and have become a part of it. I join the others who work there during the day - landscape crews, painters, construction, window washers, nannies, other dog walkers, housekeepers, delivery and mail persons...we are all busy and share this space during the day.

Who knew I would love this so much? Who knew it would prove so cathartic to be a dog walker? I hope you enjoy My Daily Wag!