Monday, March 15, 2010

People. People who need ...

While the walking of dogs is a constant joy, except the really, really hot days and the 6th and 7th really, really rainy days, sometimes the lack of human company is a little apparent.

Dogs are great for a play, great for a cuddle. Some even have a vocabulary that includes sit, stay, and stop scratching. But there are times when a little human interaction would be greatly appreciated. Times such as when you tell your companions in the car how the real estate agent is clueless when it comes to selling your house, or how it wouldn’t hurt your internet provider to occasionally provide a full day of internet, or ponder what you might do about an inbred psychotic neighbour who seems to have chosen you as the perfect target. On these occasions, the look of utter devotion to the Dog Rock God (DRG) falls a little short.

Fortunately, for these few occasions, we have the companion humans of the dogs we walk. Not all are at home when we pick up their dogs, some we’ve met only when we arranged to walk their dog, but some of those who are around provide a much-needed oasis in a desert of woof. Libby, Paul, Deb, David, Kate, Karen, Tanya, Stella, Aston are all great for a chat. Ooops just realised we’ve entered a very dangerous “why didn’t she mention me” path and so we quickly turn around and retreat from whence we came.


Of course, you’ll be surprised to know, not everyone is delightful. But we do tend to eschew those who treat us like “the help”. The oddest thing is when “the help” treat you like “the help” – you know, housekeepers, gardeners, the man of the house (kidding … seriously). Concierges can be a bit of a treat. Usually they start by looking down at you from a great height. Perhaps it’s the shiny uniform vs the special dogwalking attire, but gradually they turn into real human beings. One concierge on his first (and I believe last) day found the whole thing a little overwhelming and took it out on the DRG screaming, “You think you’re better than me, don’t you?”
After a long silence the DRG looked him directly in the eye and quietly said, “I’m the dog walker.”

But all in all we’ve had lots of people we’ve loved and become close to over time. We’ve been saddened by the human stuff that has happened to some of our humans: death, divorce, moving into aged care.

More than once we’ve been called out in the middle of the night, once to collect the dogs because our owner had decided to kick the new boyfriend out, and another time to pick up a dog because who knew when anyone would be home while the birth of their first child was happening. Then there are the oddities. To pick two:

1. Lovely woman, quite eccentric, used to love it when she was home for a chat. Seemed to have a bunch of money but no actual job. It happens. She gets engaged to a bloke we don’t like at all but, of course, say nothing. Why don’t we like him? You guessed it – he treats us like “the help”. So one fine day, the unsuspecting DRG opens the door to get (name of dog pixellated to protect identity) and lo and behold our lovely woman is there. Sobbing. Oh. Gosh. Um. Are you OK? “He left me,” begins the monologue and, to summarise, “he said I wasn’t allowed to work anymore but he didn’t give me any money and how am I supposed to live and I only did a couple of nights because I don’t have to do that many because I earn $1800 per night and…” $1800 per night? What could she…? Oh. Gosh. Um.

2. While on the subject of money … cue evil music. There was this couple. I can’t tell you how much I want to name them. They had a (type of dog pixellated so we don’t get sued). Actually they had one of those types of dogs before – lovely dog but used to get sick all the time and often came to stay with us and we’d have to give him pills 3 times a day, but lovely dog. Went out of our way. Didn’t charge extra. Because we’re NICE. Sadly that beautiful dog dies and they replace it with same brand but totally different nightmare dog. As you might imagine, the Dog Rock Gods show an enormous amount of patience trying to coax obedience from this dreadful dog. We even take it for training in our own time. What are we? Nuts? It’s behaviour gets worse. We try to talk to the owners but they’re busy playing golf or the stockmarket or some poor bastard. We finally get their attention and explain that their dog is biting at other dogs and the only way we can take him out is if he has a muzzle. Meredith, the nicer DRG, goes out of her way to source the most comfortable muzzle available. It’s called a husher and is available in 13 sizes and must be ordered especially. Saint Meredith measures said dog’s muzzle and orders it in through a local vet. We pay $35 direct to the vet having been told to put it on the bill. Meanwhile they sell their massive home in (suburb pixellated so we don’t get sued) for a suburb record – over $6 million. Next the bloke of the shining couple decides he can’t bear to see his dog with a muzzle on (after three outings where we were making progress) and forbids “the help” to use it. The DRGs can no longer be of assistance here and must let the dog go. We send the final invoice, including the cost of the husher. A week later we get an apologetic call from the local vet saying the used husher had been mailed back to them with a request that they refund the cost of the husher to us but, of course, they can’t because it’s used. The next day payment arrives from the dreadful owners of the dreadful dogs, minus the $35 for the husher. Say it again, $6 million plus.

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