survival jobs

Stanley,the red Poodle (he said, part 4)

“One of the scariest moments after having him for about a month was when he was lethargic and and salivating a lot.  He just wasn’t himself.

I thought he was going to die.

I panicked.

We took him to the vet and she said it was probably a food allergy.  We gave him a Benadryl and switched his food.  He was fine after that incident.

In general, he’s a fun loving dog and entertaining dog to have.

He’s very friendly to everyone and he always wants to play.

We have a new responsibility together so we have to work as a team to make sure Stanley is taken care of.  That work has brought us closer together.

We are more of a family.

Diego, as in Don Diego de la Vega, aka Zorro (he said part 3)

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“It was my wife’s idea to get Diego.

My sister was very ill and before she went into hospice care, she asked us to adopt him.

My wife had fallen in love with him when we visited previously, so she wanted to adopt him when my sister asked.

At first I told my sister, no.

It was an expense we couldn’t afford and we had just lost our last dog, Winnie.

As the end was getting closer, I gave in and agreed to pick up Diego.

I changed my mind because my sister found a home for her other 2 dogs, pugs.  My wife really wanted Diego, so I agreed to it.

I went up to Rochester before she went into hospice to say goodbye and I rented a car, got a crate and wanted to get out of there so quickly, that I got a speeding ticket.

Meanwhile, Diego didn’t know what was going on and started hyperventilating in the back.  I would stop along the way to walk him, but nothing helped.

When we got to our apartment, his new home, the first thing he did was pee in the bedroom.

He was never trained to walk on a leash and he was just let out in the backyard to do his business.

He still has irrational fear sometimes on our walks, but he is the least aggressive dog you will meet.”

Tucker, the Maltese Terrier rescue

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“I had just moved into a new apartment and thought this would be a good time to get a dog.

My brothers have had dogs for years.  I loved most of the family dogs.

It’s nice to have a dog when you are alone.  It’s like having a friend.

I went to the ACC shelter.  I had scanned their website and saw Tucker’s picture the night before I went.

I was very unsure when I went to the shelter.  I talked to my family and they said, why now?

My apartment was still under renovation and I didn’t have extra money for dog care.  My biggest concern was the overall cost, but I just did it.

He was scheduled to be given to a rescue group, but I got him first.

I took him home within an hour of our meeting.  We walked home from East Harlem.

When my mother came to my apartment to see the renovation progress, she pretended he wasn’t there.  We were on skid row already, so getting the dog didn’t help.

She secretly bonded with the Tucker.

I left the apartment for a few hours and when I returned I found out she had walked him.

My brother, his wife, their baby, my mother me and my dog spent the Christmas holiday together.

The worst thing was his separation anxiety.  He barked nonstop when I left the apartment.  That caused tremendous stress because my neighbors complained and I was new to the building.

I solved the problem by buying him a crate and surrounding him with sofa cushions, (with plenty of room to breathe).

The best moment, was seeing him in my apartment, the day we came home together.

 

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.”

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.”