There was a period in my young, Washington life that I had the distinct privilege of walking some very rich people’s dogs daily for cash. At the time I figured it was a great way to combine two things that I like doing: staving off obesity and being able to pay the rent on time.
In retrospect, being a professional dog walker never once affected my love for animals. My love for humans, however, was stretched from day one.
Here is a look at some of the worst of humanity I encountered:
The Special Request-ers
Every dog owner likes to believe his or her special request is tiny and insignificant. (Please leave Lancelot three treats on the red rug every Thursday and Friday. The maids come every other Monday so skip the following Tuesday. Use the service elevator on Saturdays. Cindy gets 2 blue pills. Tom has kidney stones and needs lots of water.). *
Most of the time I was happy to oblige any client request. With the help of an Excel spreadsheet and repetition it was easy to keep track of which dogs needed which pill, electrolyte-enhanced water or deep tissue massage.
But my All-Star Most Annoying Client Award goes to a woman that took cleanliness very seriously. Upon her instructions, I was not allowed to step anywhere off the large welcome mat inside the house. This created a unique situation where I would stand on the mat beckoning wildly to her dog to come to me like a manic stranger trying to lure a child out with promises of candy. The client had also “requested” that I use scented water and paper towels to wash her dog’s paws before entering the house each day after our walk. I felt very New Testament with the whole feet washing routine—except that in this case Jesus was a yorkie-poo.
The Uninhibited Pet Lovers
A shocking number of people do not leave their dog’s collar or harness on at all times. Am I really supposed to be an expert in every choke collar, facial mask, and torture device out there? I’m a dog walker, not an S&M junkie.
The Home All-dayers
Sure, as a dog walker I would politely chuckle at your joke about how you “hate walking in the rain.” But know this: on the inside I was not chuckling. At least, not at your joke.
Nothing is more awkward than when people pay you to walk their dog while they ARE AT HOME. I understand that sometimes a person will work from home, or be home sick. But if you are at home every day, I do not understand why you hired me to walk Fido.
The Neighborhood Watch
Some clients install “nanny cams” to make sure their dog’s “15 minute” walk actually lasts 15 minutes. And I understand that to a certain degree. You pay for something, and you want to make sure you get your money’s worth. As I previously posted, I have a dog, Littlefoot, and I would want him to get his 15 minutes too. So I made it my rule to just always assume there was a nanny cam in the house.
But I never anticipated the Cracker Jack neighborhood crime team.
I received a complaint from a client once that a 30 minute walk had actually only been 28. The neighbors had seen me walking out the door and timed me. The (no-doubt) kindly and (no-doubt) sad-life neighbors unfortunately didn’t realize that I start my stopwatch for 30 minutes the moment I walk into a client’s front door.
As previously discussed, many pet owners do not leave collars on their dog at all times. The time it takes for a dog walker to find your dog’s collar and leash and then wrangle it onto your pet is subtracted from your dog’s total walk time. It’s only fair.
- People whose front doors are hard to open.
- People that constantly leave notes with stupid instructions.
- People who go on trips and forget to tell you, so that you hunt all over the house in a panic looking for a non-existent dog.
- People who mistakenly think you are also a dog trainer.
Sometimes I really do miss the freedom of the job. Sometimes I think it wasn’t that bad at all. And then the memories of vanilla-scented water come swirling back to me.
I just hope the welcome mat is still big enough.
Pet owners—sound off in the comments below! What do you think about these complaints?
-A Still Loves Dogs (Just Not Yours) Lindsay
*All of the stories in this article are true. Names and certain identifying details were changed to protect the animals.