MY WAGGING YEAR IN REVIEW
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had wonderful Holidays, no matter how you celebrated. In this past week of the new year, I have seen a lot of posts about people reviewing the past year on social media. This inspired me to do a specific “year in review” post.
I have been working as a dog walker for over a year now, and let me tell you, there have been some situations that caused me to consider quitting. Luckily though, the positive experiences outweigh the negative ones, and my tremendous love for dogs keeps me going every day.
So today, I’d like to share with you my top five most memorable moments working as a dog walker in Orange County and Los Angeles. Let’s dive right into it, shall we?
1) I once accepted an on-demand walk in the Playa Del Rey area, and when I arrived at the house to get the dogs, an older man opened the door. I know this doesn’t sound very exciting yet, but did I mention that he was topless? I am by far no prude, and he could definitely afford to walk around without a shirt- he was in great shape. I just didn’t expect it and was a little taken aback.
I tried to stay cool and to not glance at his chest, but I definitely got distracted. I couldn’t wait to leave with the dogs, and when we returned from our walk, he was fully clothed. I have only had one other walk booked with these two dogs, and the second time, his wife was home. The inside of me just thought “Thank God” when a completely dressed woman opened the door for me.
2) I had this one regular client who was usually never home when I picked up his dogs. At one point back last year, he requested a walk for Sunday morning. As usual, I expected for him not to be home. Once I had opened the front door to his house, I noticed a weird, unusual smell- it can be best described as a mixture of pot and alcohol, all throughout the house.
When I stepped further inside and looked into the living room to see if the dogs were there, I witnessed what looked like the aftermath of a pretty wild party. Pillows were scattered all over the floor; open and empty bottles of all sorts of alcohol were lying around and standing on tables; but no sign of either one of the dogs. I started to call out their names until I heard noises coming from upstairs.
I looked up but couldn’t see anything, until a male voice started speaking. He sounded very apologetic as well as a bit hung over. I figured that it was the owner, who was recovering from the previous night. I didn’t get to see him (Again, Thank God!), I just heard him gushing the dogs down the stairs, which then came walking towards me with wagging tails. I could swear they seemed relieved to get out of the marijuana infused house just as much as me.
3) The most serious incident that occurred during my dog walking days happened in November. I was watching one of my private clients’ two dogs while she was on vacation. As usual, I took the pups out on an afternoon stroll around the pretty quiet neighborhood. Nothing out of the regular happened until we passed one particular house.
While the dogs were sniffing around, I suddenly heard a female voice from behind, calling “Excuse me.” I turned around and saw this older lady, holding a phone in her hand. She looked at me desperately and asked if I could call 911 for her. I never had to dial these three digits before in my life, and I got very nervous and anxious when she asked me. Of course, I didn’t hesitate a second to call while the lady sat down in a chair on her porch.
The dispatcher on the other end of the line picked up in an instant. She asked me about the emergency, and since I didn’t know the situation, I turned to the lady and prayed that she would be able to answer. She told me that she had trouble breathing and that she was over 80 years old. My heart sank. While I was reporting this information through the phone to the dispatcher, a police car was already arriving. I was astonished how quickly help came by.
The police officer looked after the lady while I was still on the phone. The next moment, I could hear sirens from far. Again, I couldn’t believe how fast the first responders arrived. Once the dispatcher told me that everything was taken care of and I could hang up the phone, I quickly walked over to the police officer and the lady and asked him if he’d like me to stay. He said that it was o.k. for me to leave.
I still kept looking back towards the house when I proceeded with the dogs just to see if the ambulance had arrived. I felt really sad for this lady since she was living by herself and had to ask a complete stranger to help her out during such a scary situation. The following days, I kept being on the lookout for her whenever I passed this particular house. Luckily, one of these days she was standing on her porch together with another woman. I felt relieved to know that she seemed to be better.
4) I had a “walk” once with a very energetic (this is an understatement) dog. All I knew was that the dog was still a puppy, and so I was super excited before my arrival at the client’s house. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into until I got the dog. It was a nice summer day, and the puppy was waiting for me in the backyard. The owner, like so many of my clients, wasn’t home, but he had left notes of where to find the dog’s leash.
There were two pretty major problems that made it a little tricky to get the walk started. One, the dog was behaving totally out of control and kept jumping while playfully nipping me at the same time. Two, I couldn’t find the leash for God’s sake. I looked around and around but no sign of it anywhere. I started texting the owner to ask him and he directed me to a couple spots where I should search. Still no success.
After being at the house for about 30 minutes already and still not able to start the walk or find the leash, the owner suggested I should just take one of his belts from his closet and strap it around the dog’s harness. I couldn’t believe what I read. The suggestion made me very uncomfortable, especially since the dog was so hyper and would probably break loose.
I told the owner my concerns and he was understanding. He then suggested I would just play with his dog and count it as walk time. Luckily shortly after, the owner’s roommate arrived and was able to find the leash for me in the garage. The puppy and I quickly proceeded on our outing so that he could release some energy.
5) One of my favorite memories from last year happened during the summer. I was doing a house sitting up in LA and had a new walk client scheduled for one of the mornings I was up in the area. All the information I received beforehand included the address and the breeds of the two dogs.
On the particular morning, I made sure to arrive at the client’s house a couple minutes before the scheduled time in case he would have any questions and so that the dogs could get used to me. I was standing in front of the owner’s apartment door and knocked. I heard dogs barking and footsteps coming towards me.
I did not expect that I was about to be greeted by a particular person. Once the front door was fully opened. I had to raise my head up to be able to see the guy’s face, he was that tall. I don’t think I have ever seen such a tall person in my life before. He measured at least 7 feet.
Right away I figured that he must be a Basketball player. There was just no other way. He was not the most talkative person, but he helped me get the dogs ready and gave me a key to the house since he was not going to be home upon our return. I know it sounds silly, but I got a little star struck and became extra nervous to make a good impression.
The walk went fine, and throughout the entire hour I couldn’t stop thinking about my first “celebrity-walk-experience”. As soon as I dropped the dogs back of at the house, I went to a coffee shop right across the street for Internet access. I looked up the dog owner’s name and sure enough, he was an NBA player. Of course, I couldn’t hold back and had to share that experience with my friends, and it kept me smirking for days.
To many more wagging experiences to come in 2018 and to all of you a year full of happiness and health!
Images: Anne-Kathrin Schulte
Anne-Kathrin Schulte is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes about her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany, she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.
If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.