OF THE DOGS|
+ warning: this is long with lots of pictures +
I finally got around to scanning the pictures of my dogs. You might remember that for about six months in L.A. I worked part-time as a dog-walker. I walked the pups of the rich and famous in order to bring in a steady income (no matter how small) while I freelanced from home. I got the job after I quit working for the Vigorous Idiot and wanted something that wouldn't bog me down and wasn't boring. I thought I would die if I had to waitress or do data entry (it's not that I'm snobbish, it's that I've already done those jobs and, in my opinion, they suck). So, a friend of mine offered to hook me up with the dog-walking company where she was working to earn extra money for school. It was fun.
My daily schedule consisted of getting up at 7 to eat breakfast and check my email. I usually got out the door around nine to meet my first dog. People always ask how many dogs I would walk at once but the most I ever walked at once was two dogs. The service would send walkers on house calls. I would be given a route every day that varied and would drive to each house, leash the dog and give it a 30 minute power walk. I usually had between 3 and 7 stops a day. Each walk usually took me about a mile and a quarter which really added up. The day I did seven walks I thought I was going to die.
I usually got home around noon when I'd take a shower and eat lunch, fire up the email and get to work. I spent my afternoon working on websites, meeting with clients and following up on job leads. It was a great balance. I got to see the chi-chi areas of Los Angeles, exercise, play with dogs, get fresh air and have stories to tell while still working on my "real" career.
Another question people always ask me is if I met any famous people. Half the time I never met or saw the owners of the dogs. I usually dealt with housekeepers, doormen and security guards. Almost every person whose dogs we walked were very, very wealthy. The average cost for a walk was usually somewhere around $18. If you think about it, that really adds up. We had one dog who was an apartment dog who got three walks a day, seven days a week. So, I'm sure most clients were famous in their own circles. As for entertainment fame, we had several studio executives, Charles Grodin and Ving Rhames. I never saw either of the latter but I did talk to Ving's wife quite a bit. She was one of the few people that talked to us and really wanted to know how we thought her dogs were doing. Very nice lady.
This page is a pretty big download because of the photos but I thought you might like to see them. I only started taking photos my last week of work so I'm missing a lot of dogs. As I was looking through these and writing down their names I kept thinking that this one was my favorite dog and then I'd look at the next picture and say to myself that actually this one was my favorite. The fun thing is is that they all had distinct personalities and quirks. You could tell who got lots of attention and affection from their owners and who were neglected. But, no matter what, the dogs were always glad to see us.
The dogs that I don't have pictures of are the Rhames' dogs Vandy and Van Gogh who were big favorites of the whole staff. Both were giant (think 180 pounds) Rottweilers with wonderful dispositions. Vandy was kind of odd but in a quirky sort of way. She had a problem with being overweight, a plus-size dog. We were always trying to make her walk faster and get her weight down. Van Gogh was just massive muscle. He head was the size of a basketball. When I first met him he sat next to me and swung his head towards me almost knocking me down. What he wanted was for me to scratch the underside of his neck. We walked these dogs separately. You could tell they were well-loved.
Abe and Scarlett lived in the biggest house on my route. It had electronic gates, surveillance cameras and an armed guard on the premises. They lived above Sunset in an area that managed to have large properties and trees. Abe and Scarlett were walked together. He was a really friendly blond Labrador who at first seemed slightly depressed. After a few months, though, everyone said he was perkier and happier. Scarlett was a bossy Lhasa Apso. She ruled the roost. Amazingly, they both could heel together on walks. So, even small dogs can learn tricks and obedience. They were also well-loved, happy dogs. Another small dog on the route only for a little while (because he moved away) was McGyver, a black Schipperke. I really want a Schipperke now because he was the funniest little dog. When you'd pull out the leash he'd do three victory laps around the living room, up and across the back of the couch and around again.
On to the pictures....
Jesse was the one who got walked three times a day, seven days a week. He lived in an apartment. Granted, it was a penthouse apartment on Wilshire but whatever. He is a Standard Poodle and well-trained as long as he didn't see a single other animal while out. Part of what we did when we walked him was try to get him to not completely flip out when he saw another dog. He had good days and bad days. On a bad day he would bark his head off, jump around frantically and try to drag you towards the dog in order to bite it. Granted, that may not have been his actual intention but we never let him get close enough to find out. There was one lady with a very mellow Collie who I we see on nearly every walk who learned to try and hide her dog behind cars or, if she saw us coming, turn the other way down the street. I really appreciated that. Jesse's favorite thing to do besides bark at dogs was to look for squirrels.
aka "Foxy", "Bruiser", or "Roxster"
Roxy is an American Staffordshire Terrier who some people call a Pit Bull. They have similar markings but the Terrier is about half the size of a true Pit. She was a rescue dog being boarded by a benevolent lady at the Beverly Hills Small Animal Hospital. She paid for the boarding and our services out of pocket. I wrote about how I wanted to adopt Roxy earlier. That, of course, never came to fruition. Anyway, Roxy was very spunky, very mischievous and very smart. She had the prettiest coat and the waggiest tail. You can see in the above pic that the tail is blurred that's the wagging. She could do some tricks like walking across benches and stone walls.
aka "The Troublemakers"
I wish the quality of these photos weren't so bad but I was using a disposable camera and didn't have too much time to think about lighting or composition, plus with the scanning.... Anyway, Nikki (left) is a true Pit Bull. She was only about a year or two old and had a Brindle coat. Brindle is an unusual coloring most common to Pit Bulls, Boxers, Terriers and the occasional American Bulldog and is a combination of brown, black and gold stripes almost like a tiger. It's really quite striking. Nikki was being trained also to not freak out over other dogs. She wouldn't try to charge like Jesse but instead would sit howl. Poser (right) would take that opportunity to try and sneak off, tangling my legs and straining at his leash. He was roughly the same size as Nikki and is some sort of German Shepard mix. He's much older, around nine or ten. This pair lived in Brentwood.
aka "Licky" and "Canon Ball"
Scout and Drake were pity cases who lived behind a beautiful house, in a big expansive yard, in a pen. They were ignored by thier owners and the staff and never left the pen. Scout (the brown one) was always sort of sickly and had arthritis is his hip that made it hard for him to walk, especially on rainy days. Scout had a problem with licking as in he'd lick your whole body top to bottom if you'd let him. Drake had a luscious coat that was always shiny. He would try and knock you down as soon as you opened that gate. I loved these dogs but hated walking them. I always left their house covered in mud, dog spit and completely spent. The problem was not really these two dogs but the third dog, Lucy (you can see her nose peeking in at the bottom of the frame), a stray that they took in. She was a spaz and we had a whole routine for dealing with her: grab her through the gate, open the gate, let out the two labs who started licking and jumping instantly, close the gate, try and calm Lucy who is barking her head off while ignoring the other two. I had the gate smash my face one to many times. I once had to walk away when the owner, a rich bitch harpy, decided to take take issue with me in a yelling tone. I was already covered in paw prints, had had my face smashed and my glasses stepped on and my ankle bitten by that time. I just put the dogs back in their pen and walked away. Good dogs who were essentially neglected we were really their only attention during the day.
aka "Circus" or "Tubby"
The stray mentioned in the above paragraph. Also a good dog but a puppy with no real outlet for her energy. Once we got her leashed (we never walked her with the Labs because we thought they deserved a break from her) she was great. She would do all sorts of tricks that she must have learned somewhere. The best trick was walking on her hind legs, sometimes for an entire block. That's why I called her "Circus". She had a really cute face and I got stopped several times by people asking what kind of dog she was. I was so tempted to give her away. She would have been a great dog for a family with kids. If someone would have just thrown a ball for her twice a day she would have been so sweet. However, penned all day with two old dogs made her kind of neurotic. Some people should have neither money nor dogs.
aka "Silly" or "Hair for Brains"
Beau is a Bearded Collie who lives in Beverly Hills. He gave me back spasms. He had this trick leaping towards things when he was already at the end of his leash. This would yank my arm and hurt my back. Myself and the company owner trained a lot with Beau but nothing really stuck for any length of time. Some days he would be pretty good, heeling and sitting, but most days he was a scatterbrain.
Radar was definitely one of my favorites. This picture really captures his essence. He was a very serious dog. There was a routine with him to keep him in line. When we came in the door we had to immediately make him sit. If we didn't do that he might decide it's playtime and go and guard something like a chair or a throw pillow or his bed. If you can imagine a large, sleek Doberman trying to keep you away from a pillow then you can imagine that this could be a little scary. He often brought a tennis ball, or two or three, to me at the door. I remember pulling two balls out of his mouth (one in front of the other) and finding that he had a third way back in his jaw. He eventually dropped it on his own because there was no way I was reaching back there. Like a lot of our other dogs he was agressive upon the sight of other dogs. The reason why Dobie's and Rottweilers and Pit Bulls make good attack dogs is because of their tremendous ability to focus and getting them to unfocus can be a bit of a chore. It's also the reason why these dogs don't need to be taught attack skills; they need to be taught control skills. Radar in all other areas was perfectly trained. I could walk really fast and then stop and he would stop right next to me without hesitation. He wouldn't sniff unless I let him, he wouldn't cross in front of me unless I told him to. It was amazing. When I first met him he showed very little emotion and seemed a little scary. As I continued walking him he started wagging his short, stumpy tail and "smiling" at me. Great dog. I wish he was mine.
aka "Big Boy"
Another one of the staff favorites was Tomo, a big Akita. He had the personality of a gruff old man. He liked his walks but only liked to go so far so fast. He would grunt when we put on or took off his collar because he didn't like people touching his neck. He did, however, liked to be scratched and rubbed all over. He was a people-dog in that he would turn on the cute for any passing stranger. Few could resist his fuzzy face and inquistive nature. He frequently got a head patting from this tiny, old lady who would always tell me what a beautiful dog he was and then ask if he was a Samoyed. Then she'd ask me his name and repeat it to herself as though to remember it. I think she just liked an excuse to pet a giant, gentle dog.
aka "Happy" and "Sweet Thing"
I think these two black Labs were litter mates but I'm not sure. They made a great pair and both were jolly. We walked them together but it was always a challenge to keep Budda on a heel. I would be constantly correcting Budda and Bailey would be looking up at me with her bright, hazel eyes as if to say, "Do you see what I have to deal with?" They were kept mostly on a heel but it was fun to let them walk ahead because their tails were constantly wagging and they looked like they were leading an orchestra. Fun dogs to hug and wrestle.
And that concludes our dog-walking adventure.
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