Episode 7 – Leash Tales, Woo-ooh!

14 Sep 2018 | Written by Freshpet
It’s the season finale, and finally time for our hosts to take a walk! With years of experience professionally walking the dogs of NYC, Andrea dishes on all of the fun, adorable, and strange things – including some very odd pet parent requests – that happen in the life of a dog walker.  

Episode Transcript

I feel like parents are always apologizing for how messy their house is and it's always much cleaner than mine and I don't have a child. I just have cats. You know what I mean?

Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Welcome to Pet Parents Oversharing brought to you by Freshpet. Hey, hi.

Hey.

Hi.

Hey, everyone. Welcome to Pet Parents Oversharing. I'm Andrea Aileen Shapiro.

I'm Kaity Reagle.

With the king of our hearts Floof Boy. We've got James and we've got Kathleen. They're just people we found on the street. We said, "Come on in here." They were like, "Yeah, we've got nothing else to do."

No, they're the ones who make the podcast happen.

They are.

Sometimes we like to make them uncomfortable and say things with us on microphones.

Yes. Right.

Today is one of those special days.

It is because I think both Kathleen, James, and yourself have all had experiences getting outside help, let's call it. I'm not talking about therapists. That's what it sounds like. Counseling?

It's time to get outside help.

A support group?

We've done that too. Also, yeah, we've used dog walkers. You have been on the other side.

Yeah.

In the trenches.

I have. Still do occasionally. I like to call myself a pet care technician.

Hey.

Because dog walking doesn't cover all the aspects of what I do or have done.

Oh, go on.

Just because sometimes you're their therapist, sometimes you also ... Like for instance, one time I was dog sitting Rupert, one of my favorite dogs, and also one of my fiance's favorite dogs. Specifically because he loves Rupert. He loves to hold him in his sweet arms. He loves Rupert's apartment, which is very nice and it overlooks the water.

When I was dog sitting once his parents were going to get married and they left their marriage certificate at home and so I rushed home to make sure that it was there. They thought maybe they lost it. Sometimes I provide support like that.

Oh my gosh.

I'm your secretary. Also, I opened it and all their important documents were in there. I'm like, "They really trust me. I could steal their identity right now."

Got all the SSNs and their Social Security numbers.

Everything. Everything was in there.

Here's what I want to know. That was a really good unexpected thing you had to do.

Right.

I want to know what's the weirdest thing you've had to do that someone asked upfront. Someone was like, "As part of your dog walking services I need you to do this."

Water plants in a very particular way where I'm like, "I'm not a zoologist ..." No, no, "I'm not a botanist."

Were they fancy plants? Did they just like it a fancy way?

Fancy plants. Yes. The thing that comes to mind the most is when people write so many directions to me as if I've never seen not only a cat but any animal before in my entire life. I think I was talking about it before where it was like down to like, "Put the key in the door. Turn it left. The door will now open by using something called a doorknob. Next, you dummy, go inside ..."

I'm like, "Okay. Let me flip through pages." Yeah, I guess it's like reading a novel. You need to remember I have a 30 minute window to see your pet. I can't spend 30 minutes reading the notes. You know what I mean?

That's true. On the other side ...

Yes. Some notes are very, very helpful. There are some things that are completely unnecessary.

That's true. I feel like it's like I don't expect you to remember the things that to me seem obvious if you're walking 10 other dogs a day.

Right.

What was the weirdest request in there? There was the plants.

What way to hold the laser pointer for the cat so that they would get, quoting, "Optimal enjoyment."

Oh my.

Out of it.

Have you ever walked a dog or gone to pick one up and the owner was home still?

Oh, that happens all the time.

Okay. I want to know how that interaction goes because I can only imagine it's awkward.

Sometimes people are sick. That's happened before and I totally understand. There's a family where the dad he works from home and it's a very intense at-home job so he needs the dog walker to come so I get that too.

One time I went into a person's apartment, the nanny was there, who I already knew, I'd already developed a relationship with, I got in good with her because she left a poppy diaper bag out once to go ... Well, the thing is she would leave it outside the door and she's like, "Oh, when I go downstairs later I'll throw it out" which is something I've done when I've nannied. When I was leaving to go take the dog out I took the bag without her asking me to and I put it in the garbage.

Oh, that's so nice.

I was in like Flynn with her for the rest of the time and she always was like, "Do you want some water? Do you want some ..." Whatever.

She was there. I walk in. The pet parent is there and also the housekeeper was there at the same time. All three of us high fived each other at the same time and just said, "The help!" You know what I mean? It was so many cooks in the kitchen. It felt so unnecessary.

We should probably have checked before we started judging. Have either of you had a walker come while you were home?

No.

I don't generally use walkers.

You use daycare, right?

Yeah. I use daycare. Every single day. I have used walkers. It's been so long I can't recall if that ever happened.

That's fair.

Sometimes it happens. Like sometimes someone is like, "Oh my God. I'm late leaving." Whatever.

Can I ...

Mm-hmm (affirmative)

I'd love to read you the notes that I have on file for my dog walker.

Okay.

You let me know if I should check myself.

Okay. Is this for the company I think it's for?

Yes.

Okay. Go ahead. My old company. Yes. Go ahead.

"Harness leash is rainbow-colored on the closet handle on the right between the front door and the bedroom."

Mm-hmm (affirmative)

"Floof Boy does not like going outside so he'll likely try passive resistance when you put on the harness, AKA hook a limp and try to snuggle so he doesn't have to go out. Once he's in you may also have to drag him down the hallway by the harness. TBH, I think he enjoys this part because he gets a ride across the floor."

I don't know if this is notes or an article for McSweeney's. I'm not sure. If I were the dog walker so far I would be thoroughly enjoying this.

Dave Eggers wrote it.

Yeah. Say again?

Dave Eggers wrote it.

I would be reading this on the bus over to seeing your dog.

Amazing.

I would be laughing on the bus while I was heading over there. Know that I would tell you if I thought it was absurd.

I appreciate that.

I think it's geared towards a person who you think is a competent human being. Here's the thing, it's like everything you've told me is relevant. What I hate almost more than an extensive note is no information whatsoever.

See, I almost left one that would have been worse in a different way.

How so?

Because my dogs are pretty straightforward. I don't generally get a dog walker but someone was to do a little more than that. Walk them, feed them, and then hang out with them for a period of time. When I was preparing for it I was like, "You take them for a walk. It's pretty straightforward. You know how to use a leash." I almost left a note, though, that I was really thinking about. It was, "If something happens to them, something is going to happen to you."

James.

I was starting to stress about it. I was like, "What if something happens?"

And a picture of your rifle.

I'm trusting this other person to take care of the two most important things in my life. I started getting prematurely angry at them and nothing has happened yet.

Right.

Then I was like, "Well, I can leave it and just let them know I mean business" but if it freaks them out I'll go, "It was a joke. I was kidding around."

"I have a special set of skills and I ..."

I ended up not leaving it. I ended up not leaving the note.

Okay.

"Here's a picture of your mother at her condo in Fort Lauderdale. Okay? I know where all your family is."

I have actually kind of ... I don't know if other people think about this but I'd love your perspective as a walker.

Sure.

Okay. When I get my daily Floof date, which is what I call my picture of Floof, whether or not it's my husband or a dog walker taking it, I do require it.

Sure.

I've had some friends and their walker will include themselves very prominently in the picture with the dog. I'm like, "I appreciate you and I'm glad you're there but I feel weird about this"?

Although, okay, here's my devil's advocate point about that.

Finally we can get down to our big disagreement.

Exactly. Wouldn't you like to know what your walker looks like, though, so in case ... Here's something ... Actually that plays very nicely into something that's happened to me several times before, which is I normally when I take a picture I do what I like to call the Wilson. If you remember Wilson from Home Improvement you only saw the top of his eyes.

Yeah.

What I will do is the dog's face will be in front of my face and you'll just see the top of my eyes. It's also the easiest way for me to take a picture, especially with smaller dogs a lot of the time.

Sometimes I do include myself in it and sometimes clients request it because they just want to know what I look like. It helps me because I live in the same neighborhood as where I work. It's happened numerous times that I will see a dog that I've walked and I say, "Is this Shadow?" The pet parent will get very nervous because they're like, "I have no idea who you are."

Yes.

As opposed to Chewie's mom who I was avidly in pictures with all the time. She saw me on the street and she's like, "Andrea!" She already knew it was me because she's seen pictures of me before.

Aww.

One time I went up to Teddy's ... I had this Pomeranian Teddy. I said, "Is this Teddy?" The woman, the mom, was very freaked out. I understand. How do I know your dog? That's really terrifying.

One time I did address a pet mom or dad by their name and that freaked them out even more. I know their names. Now I say with their pet ... Maybe it's like, "Oh, we met at the dog park" or something like that. You know?

I would be like so impressed and trust even more like, "You pay so much attention to your clients and really remember them."

I knew all the names of the moms and dads of my clients. You end up writing notes to them so often that you're like, "Hey Kaity". You know what I mean?

Hey, Andrea.

Hey. I liked writing the notes because it really helped me flex my liberal arts degree where I could really use a really vivid language to paint a picture.

Get in there.

Yeah. It's hard sometimes because especially if a dog has a particular routine and nothing really exciting happens you're like, "They saw a new squirrel today and that was exciting. I kicked an acorn and they thought it was something alive and we both really got a heart attack after that. Let me tell you."

Oh my gosh. I've totally gotten notes like that and it warms my heart every time.

Yes. Floof is a 10 minute walker so ...

Right. She's like, "Today he was barking at me happily." I was like, "Yeah! That's my boy. So proud of you, buddy."

There you go.

The only time I did lose a dog was this one particular dog. She was a puppy and she had gotten tangled in her leash while she was walking because she's just silly and she's just learning how to whatever. I was untangling her ...

Walking is hard.

Walking's hard. I was untangling her and as I did it she bolted and the leash came out of my hands. What you're supposed to do, what Cesar Millan would say, is if a dog gets away from you you're supposed to crouch down and get a treat in your hand and hopefully they'll come back.

The thing is she's a puppy. She doesn't necessarily understand. She was just being trained at the time. You know? She bolted and I just ran after her as fast as I could. I crossed the street without looking because I didn't care about my welfare. I just wanted ... She's one of my favorites too. I started screaming her name. I'm not going to say it because I don't want her mom to listen to this and know who it was.

I was like, "Where is she?" I just couldn't find her. I turned around and she was sitting on her own stoop. Just like ...

With a little smile.

With a little smile like, "I went home." I picked her up and I just started hysterically crying. I was like, "Please don't ever do that to me ever again." I had to go inside with her a few minutes early, lay down for a minute, because my heart was beating out of my chest. It was terrifying.

Oh, wow.

I literally saw my whole life flash before my eyes when it happened.

A question that I have ... For two sides, for James and Kathleen, when you're choosing a doggy daycare or you're choosing a walker, what were you looking for with that? Then as a dog walker has there ever been a time where you're like, "This isn't a fit"?

Well, for me, the daycare, I wanted them to appear to be somewhat as obsessed as I am.

Excellent. Excellent. Is that how you surround yourself generally?

Right.

Like us here?

I know they'll take care of him.

Yeah.

The place I take him to, one of the ladies who work there when the dogs came in she laid down on the floor and you can tell ... There's dogs playing on it all day. That's not a clean floor. They've peed. Even when they mop it up it's still just moving stuff around a little bit.

You're in sterile, though.

She was down there. She plopped down on the floor so that they would then climb on top of her.

Puppy pile.

Yeah. I was like if you have someone who is that excited to see two dogs that they're willing to lay down on that floor they're going to have a good day.

Yeah!

You can watch the stream ...

I don't anymore. I can't.

You don't?

I can't because what I do is I'll be sitting at work and I'll pull it up and I'll go, "I'm just going to watch this until I can see them so I know they're having a good time and they're okay." I'll watch and then they'll come on the screen and I'm like, "Okay, I'm just going to watch until they leave the frame." That repeats all day long.

Aww.

That's amazing.

I feel like that's why I have two monitors at work. If anyone has livestreams please feel free.

Yeah.

Kathleen is another dog walker user. What was your journey like there?

We keep it in the family. I am the dog walker most of the time. I haven't had the same experiences that maybe James has had. I do have interesting experiences with some ex-boyfriends.

Uh oh.

Okay.

If we want to go here.

Listen up, fellas.

My dog is ... I'm kind of like his sister. You know? He respects me a lot.

The ex-boyfriend or the dog?

The dog. I'm like my dog's sister.

Okay.

That was weird.

I was like, "Wow. You're really brave to reveal this."

No, but I've noticed whenever I go on walks with somebody strange, specifically this one person, Toby, my dog, would always walk between us. He would never ... It was like, "No. You can't go near her. What are you doing? What do you think you're doing?" Usually I try to walk him by myself.

Yeah. If we do this again I feel like we should have a whole deep dive episode about relationships and how you deal with dog breakups and stuff.

Yeah.

I know a girl who stayed with a guy an extra two months because she didn't know how to breakup with his dog. [inaudible 00:16:33]

I know a woman that's going through a divorce right now and the hardest part was not leaving her husband. It was that he paid predominantly for the dog so he was going to keep the dog. She still ... If she talks about it she's still crying. I'm like, "I totally get it." I've met that dog and that dog is a beautiful being. I totally understand.

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Yeah. We love you guys.

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