Every day for one week in June, I swore, “Never. Again.” And each day I was back, crawling on the Browns’ bedroom floor, cooing, “Baby. Come here, Baby.” It wasn’t anything kinky — I’m unemployed but still have some limits. The Browns were my first dog walking clients and Baby Boo their seven-pound Maltese.
“Baby Boo loves everybody,” Mrs. Brown had assured me when we met. But Baby Boo hid under their bed every time I arrived and snarled when I lifted the bed skirt. I wasn’t feeling the love whenever I reached for Baby’s sparkly collar and she bit me. We obviously had not made a love connection so Friday of that first and only week, I expressed my regret that I could no longer walk Baby since my visits agitated her so.
“Oh, but we need you!” cried Mrs. Davis.
“Maybe if Baby got to know you better, we could have you over for dinner, maybe a glass of wine,” suggested Mr. Davis.
I just wondered who was more pathetic: the middle-aged couple wooing me to walk a dog who spends more time in a purse than on the ground or me, a downsized professional making a steadier income from my poop scooping expertise than my writing.
Like many of my less-great ideas, local dog walking had made sense at first thought. It would be a regular routine to get me out of the house, require no significant commute, and I love dogs and cash — what could be more perfect for this unemployed writer? I didn’t anticipate a scar on my wrist from a dog named Baby Boo. Or the objects that can be found when on all fours in the bedroom of a strange home. There’s no brain Brillo for the images those toys etched in my mind. The more I learned about my neighbors from going into their homes, the less I wanted to leave my own. How do you make small talk on the street with the guy who sets up his dog’s wee-wee pads next to the toilet because “Lucky likes to go when I go”?
I really considered giving it up when Jimmy from across the street started yelling, “Must be doing good, all the time in the world to walk those dogs!” Thanks for the reminder, butthead, that each time I leave the house I feel like I’m going nowhere.
I haven’t given it up, though. My client roster is limited to goofy, sweet dogs who make the walks a fun break in the day and me less likely to snarl and snap. I’m building a neighborhood network that has connected me to job leads, how to make tahini, and confirmation that yes, I should avoid the bearded guy who talks to himself on his front porch. The cash doesn’t pay my mortgage but it pays for a few beers at my favorite tavern. And I always have a story to tell.