Dog walking. Not the most difficult job to have. I have been working as a professional dog walker in New York City for the past three years and compared to some of the jobs I have previously worked (cough*school portrait photographer’s assistant*cough), the amount of things I am responsible for, in relation to the amount of money I get paid to do them, is definitely balanced to work in my favor.
My duties generally include making sure your dog does not eat garbage off the sidewalk, does not attack or get attacked by another passing dog, not losing your pooch and picking up shit. Not rocket science.
Like anything else in life, however, there are some inevitably awful aspects that come with the job. Most of those things have nothing at all to do with walking dogs. Instead, it’s the people I encounter along these walks each and every day.
If you are one of these people listed below, please stop. You are insufferable, and you lead me to question making the irresponsible financial decision to go into self-employment even more than “doesn’t have savings account”.
1. The advisor
“You should really be using a harness.” “You really shouldn’t let him smell too long, he needs to know you’re in charge.” “What kind of food are you feeding her?”
Shut up. If you want to give people advice, become a certified expert in something and charge people money to learn what you know.
OK, now I feel bad because this sounds really mean. No, I don’t feel bad anymore, these people are the worst.
2. Retractable leash people
Your dog is 20 feet ahead of you. He is weaving all over the sidewalk, running up to anyone, human or canine, in his vicinity. Your dental-floss thickness piece of thread is now in a tangled mess with my actual, normal persons leash and it is taking everything in my power not to scream at you to “CONTROL YOUR SHIT DUDE!”
People are sometimes scared of dogs. Dogs will sometimes want to inflict harm on another dog. Bikes and cars can often injure dogs. Stop putting your dog in potentially dangerous situations and using a leash you cannot reel in.
3. The non-stop talkers
There are people who, while I am clearly working on a command, insist on coming over to talk about anything and everything.
If I am pulling my dog away from you and your dog, please do not walk your dog over to us to ask how old she is. If I am clearly attempting to get my dog to sit, please do not come over and encourage her to jump up and give you a “kiss.” Do not whistle at my dog. Do not assume you can pet my dog.
You have no idea why this person is working on this certain thing with this particular dog. While more often than not, it is just a matter of reinforcing basic good manners outside, walkers do, on occasion, take responsibility for dogs with behavioral issues such as anxiety and aggression, and your distraction is really, REALLY unhelpful. I appreciate your affection for this adorable animal, I really do, but please ask if it is OK to say hello first.
Most of the above advice is simply the result of commuting and walking on the streets of New York City all day, every day. The important thing is this: We are all responsible for keeping domesticated animals safe. As a species that chooses to domesticate and share our homes and public spaces with canines, it is up to everyone to make sure that they, and the people around them, are not to be placed in dangerous situations. So just, walk: It’s not rocket science.