Month: January 2016

Kirsten, the animal lover and pet care giver (part 2)

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“Two of the dogs that I have a deep connection with are Carter and Rocky.

I have been taking care of Carter for 3 1/2 years.  I met him when he was 6 or 7 months old.  He is a very sweet dog–  it’s the way he interacts with dogs and people.  When he meets dogs and people he puts them at ease.  Even though I can tell he’s excited, he gets low to the ground or finds a way to be non-threatening, and patiently lets the other dog sniff for as long as it takes for the other dog to be comfortable.

He seems to be able to judge if a person is interested or unsure or afraid.  He matches people’s behavior.  If someone is interested, he approaches them right away, but if someone is sure or afraid, he gives them their space and lets them be.  He’s always up for a good time.  He adapts to any situation.

I brought him home with me for Christmas, which involved a car ride with my siblings who he’d never met and then meeting my human, canine and feline family in a new place in the suburbs.  He had a blast and chimed my family completely.

The one split second where he lost his cool, and gave in to his dog instinct, he tried to play with the cat.  The cat was having none of it and fled.  Carter went back to socializing with the rest of us (humans) and new dog friend, unphased.

I started walking Rocky at the same time as Carter and we just clicked right away.  He had a lot of energy and was very outgoing.  He seemed as excited as I was to go out on the streets of NY and see the sights.  He was my co-pilot.  I took him on multiple guided walking tours of Central Park through the Conservancy.  I would keep him out for entire afternoons even if he was only scheduled for a short walk.  I even once asked his owner to bring him to a dog luau that I was bringing Carter to, so that I could hang out with my dog friends on the weekend.

Last Spring Rocky started knuckling under with his hind right paw.  That leg continued to get weaker.  Eventually, he was diagnosed with a degenerative spinal chord disease.  He got around on wheels for a few months, which meant he could still find grass to graze on and patrol for squirrels.

The disease was progressive and incurable and ultimately took his life.

It was an honor to help his family take him to the end of his journey.”

Kirsten, the animal lover and pet care giver (part 1)

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“I started grad school and dropped out within a couple of weeks.

I needed a job.

My roommate was a dog walker for a company and got me a job as an assistant.  I worked for them for 2 years before I went out on my own.

What was funny for me, was that when I was a kid, pet care was my first job.

I grew up in the suburbs and when my peers started babysitting, I would feed my neighbors cats, take in the mail and general house sitting stuff.

As an adult, whatever jobs I had often involved pet sitting (on the side) for co-workers.

I didn’t put it all together, or see where I was headed until I started dog walking.

I think I could do this for a while, but I don’t really know.

All of the dogs that I’ve taken care of give me a way to be a better person.

Everything with a dog is immediate, so in the moment.  For example, with Gremmy, the Italian Greyhound, she’s so delicate, fragile and tiny, so when I am with her, I have to watch people and dogs in a different way.  I have to literally protect her from the cold (which for her, is September through June), feet (people stepping on her), and people trying to pick her up.  Those are the main things in protecting her.  Taking care of her reminds me to be patient and also assertive.  I have to tell people no, don’t pick her up.  I also have to be careful of her space, so I don’t accidentally step of her or make her nervous.”

Riley, the great rescue

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“I was living by myself when I was 15 and my parents didn’t want me to be alone.

I was having trouble in the city so I moved up to the weekend house and went to school up there.

I wanted to rescue a Pit Bull from the city and bring it upstate to live with me.

Me, my mom and my dad went to the ASPCA to look for a pit.  We each picked a different dog.

My family had a Maltese named Buddy and so we had to test which of the three potential dogs got along with Buddy.

My mom’s choice was the first to go.  He was an 80 lb., deaf, white pit named Freedom.  Freedom tried to play with Buddy but Buddy growled at him.  Freedom didn’t stop trying to play  because he was deaf and didn’t hear Buddy’s warning, so the ASPCA trainers said that was a failure.

Next was my dad’s choice.  He growled at Buddy.  That was a failure, too.

Fawn, whose name I changed to Riley, was a success.  Riley was on the leash and went running up to Buddy as fast as he could to play with him.  Buddy latched onto Riley’s nose. After Buddy released Riley’s nose, Riley tried to run as far away from Buddy as possible, hiding behind one of the ASPCA trainers.  The trainers then announced that Riley was a success because he let Buddy be the alpha.

When Riley got upstate he blended in well.  He spent most of his time swimming in the pool.

I lived with him by myself for 3 or 4 years so he is my best friend.

Now that I work in the city, he stays with friends a lot and I don’t get to see him that often.

I thought about giving him up, because I only saw him 2 days a week.  I felt like I was being unfair to Riley.  A friend was taking care of him, but he wasn’t getting a lot of exercise.  He put on 20 lbs.

I called a couple of friends to see if they wanted a dog because Riley needed a home where someone would take better care of him.

I was afraid he was going to die.

My parents convinced me not to give him up.

I go upstate more often and  have someone helping me take great care of him.”

Mugsy, the matchmaker

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“I’ve always wanted a dog but I wasn’t ready for the responsibility.

A friend of mine said, there’s a million dog owners in New York, I think you can handle it.

So I got Mugsy.

I always liked Poodles and I always like Cocker Spaniels, so I got a Cockapoo.

He is my first dog so I wasn’t ready for a rescue. I needed to be trained first.

He actually brought me and my boyfriend together. He has a dog, too.  Our park like our bar. We go on walks together.

Mugsy had Giardia, and got very sick. That was painful. He was sick from both ends. I took him to the emergency room at the Pearl, on 55th Street.  It was ten days of antibiotics and it was scary.

He is my buddy, that’s his job.

I would love to bring him into nursing homes and spread the joy.

He’s just a great companion.”

Stanley, the red poodle


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“Jared and I had been looking for a dog for a while but we never had the time for a dog.

He was in school and we had just moved to New York.  He was graduating in May of last year and it would have been the perfect time to add to our family.

It was between a Great Dane and a Standard Poodle.  We hadn’t owned either but we have friends and relatives that have both.

In the end, it was that the Dane can have a heart condition and might not live as long a life as  a Poodle that was the deciding factor.

We went online and looked at breeders in the New York area and found that the prices for Poodles in New York were astronomical.  We decided to outsource and found a great breeder in Alabama.  we researched her web page to see when her next litter would be.  We were really interested in red Poodles because you wouldn’t see them often.  We just happened to fall in love with them.

We paid a deposit and added our name to a wait list for a red puppy.  It was unfortunate that we were at the bottom of the list.

She had three pregnant dogs.  The first had a litter of fifteen puppies and one passed away.  It was a red male, exactly what we wanted.

We waited and got a  red male in the second litter.  Stanley was the first red male.

We’ve had Stanley since the end of May.

He’s taught us patience. He brings out a maternal or paternal role in our lives.  I can’t really explain it, except it’s about caring for someone other than myself.

The worst time was when we discovered he had a heart murmur.  Hearing that at the vet’s office was heartbreaking.  We just welcomed a new member and hearing that we could lose him was frustrating and scary.  We would of course keep him.

We went to a cardiologist before we neutered him to make sure everything was ok.  He gave us the reassurance that the murmur would be clearing up in the next year or two.   It was so minute.  That took a hug weight off our shoulders.

We have been blessed to have such a good dog, but as every puppy owner knows, it’s a learning curve.

Our family dynamic has changed for the better.

Stanley has changed our time management and level of patience.  He has tested our nerves.

However, waking up to him every morning is a true testament to unconditional love.”

Theodora, the cute blonde (part 2)

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“Theodora was the right size because she was small, and she had hair not fur, which made her hypoallergenic.

Taylor, my younger son, six at the time, took one look at her and said, mom, she’s a cute little blonde, just like my friend, Theodora.  So, we called her Theodora.

Clearly, Theodora had been trained to walk on a leash and do her business outside.

While she was well trained to do her business on the leash, we soon learned she had issues with other dogs and men.

She wags her tail and pretends she’s friendly and nice and then proceeds to peel their face off and attack.

I don’t let her interact with other dogs.  That’s my solution.

As far as men go, she has great instincts.

A strange man approached and tried to pet her and she growled fiercely.  I just let her.         She was right,  He was a creep.

If one of my boys is sick or sad, she’s their comfort.  They find solace in cuddling with her.

That’s a huge contribution to the family.”

Theodora, the cute blonde (part 1)

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“I had a Portuguese Water Dog with my kids and ex-husband.

When I left the ex, we had to have a dog to make our family complete.

I adopted a teacup poodle called Bruno.

Aaron, my older son was eight years old at the time.  He brought Bruno to a play date.  He wanted the responsibility of walking Bruno, so I let him take the dog.  This wasn’t the first time.  Aaron was a very responsible child. While Aaron was walking Bruno he let the leash out too far at the corner.  Bruno was in the gutter and a taxi came speeding along and ran over the dog.

Poor Aaron.

That was so intense.

He ran after the taxi.  The taxi driver hadn’t even registered that he had hit a dog.

The mother supervising the play date rushed Bruno to the vet, but it was too late.  Bruno had died.

Aaron was mad.  He was mad at the taxi driver and he was mad at himself.

That night we sat around Bruno’s bed as a family.  The mom and Aaron’s friend were there too.  We performed a memorial service to Bruno.

We told stories about Bruno.  We thanked him for being in our lives and then released him into the universe.

I think that memorial service helped Aaron. The main thing I wanted him to know, was that it wasn’t his fault.

Shortly after we lost Bruno, the kids had a winter break and we were in Los Angeles visiting my family.

Our quest became visiting every animal shelter to find a new dog.

Because of Aaron’s asthma it had to be hypoallergenic.

We hit every shelter between Palm Springs and L.A., with no luck.

The day we were leaving I found a small animal rescue group in Venice, and literally hours before we boarded the plane back to NY we found Theodora.”

Mark, the musician and walker

“When I moved here from Texas, I was waiting tables and auditioning for bands and looking for something more conducive to playing music.

I am a drummer.

I found Hoochie Poochie on Craigslist, quit the serving job I had and started doing this full time.

The dogs are awesome.

I have been doing this for five years.  The time has gone by quickly.

There are no negatives about this job, except for the weather.  Anything other than sunny and 70 is a drag.

This is an awesome way to meet women.

Cute dogs attract cute chicks.

I was training a female walker and we started hanging out at the dog park together.  We bonded over the dogs.  We started organizing after work bar meet-ups.   She had a boyfriend at the time so we would hang out with a group of friends to keep things light and safe.  We ended up at the same bar one night alone and mistakes were made.  It was uncomfortably sticky for a few months until she broke up with him.  We dated for a year off and on, seeing each other at the dog run regularly.  She didn’t want to be in a committed relationship.  She was younger and still exploring what she wanted.

I started seeing another woman who was also a dog walker for the same company.  She was a dancer.  We met at a holiday party.  I started to realize our thinking was more in line with each other.  We wanted the same things, pursuing our art. Music and dance is what brought us both to the city.

Dog walking allows us the flexibility, finances and freedom to go after our passions.

Without the dog walking I would just be another jaded New Yorker.”

 

Cody, the college companion

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“We had the most wonderful dog growing up.

There was a feeling that we were missing something after he died.

He was a member of the family that was always a happy cheerful presence that made everyone smile.

Any time I was sick my dog was on the edge of my bed.

One of the things I loved about him, was that when anyone hugged someone, he would run over and jump in between and join in the hug.

I really missed that.

I am in college and I wanted to make sure that I was at a stage where I could take care of a new puppy.

Last year, when I no longer lived in a dormitory room I felt it would be possible to take the care that is required for having a dog.

I spent a year researching dogs and breeders.  I decided I wanted a Golden Doodle and found the right breeder.

Cody was born in March and I picked him out in April.  He was playful but not aggressive, and not too crazy.   He wanted to be held.  It was really important to me to have an affectionate dog.  He is a part of our family and it is important that he give unconditional love to everyone. Cody wanted to interact and play with me in ways that some of the other puppies didn’t.

In May, when I was driving him home from the breeder he was nervous for ten or fifteen minutes, but then he relaxed and snuggled up to me.

He had such short stubby legs when he was a baby, he hopped around like a rabbit.

Cody is spunky and energetic which is good for me, because I am one of the more energetic members of the family.

While we were in the park yesterday he saw two boys playing catch with a football and he chased the ball back and forth for thirty minutes.  He was pretty tired after that.

He is also still like the little puppy in the car that likes to slow down and snuggle.

We let him sleep wherever he wants and often he will start in the living room, but by morning he is in bed with me.

Also, he doesn’t like to eat alone.  If someone isn’t in the kitchen keeping him company he will ignore his food.

Cody is a companion dog.

When he gets older I want to work with him to become a therapy dog.  I think he would cheer up hospitalized children.

Cody doesn’t just affect my family, but he brings a smile to strangers on the street.”

Mitzi, the lifesaver and Ollie, the lover (part 2)

FullSizeRender-18“Ollie looked for her where we used to walk in the park together.

Mitzi lives on with us through Ollie.  She taught him the dog language of mutual love and respect.  She taught him not to wake me up at night, that no means no, and just good dog behavior.

Ollie has his own personality.  He is hysterically funny.

In the morning he looks at me with his underbite and his bed head and I collapse in a fit of laughter. He shows great affection.  He likes to prance up to people to give them kisses.

For every one person that is annoyed at him for his bold friendliness, there are 100 people that say thank, your dog just made my day.

When your kids are gone, the nurture gene doesn’t just go away.

He’s a giver and a receiver of love.

A friend called him a furry beating heart.

He’s just a gift.”