Confessions of the Dog Walker

In case anyone didn’t know, I kind of live in the town Footloose was based off of.  So when I get the chance to run into the night towards the big city, I take it.

For the past two weeks I have been living in the city at a family friend’s house watching her dog and cat.  They are delightful pets and I truly appreciate the opportunity it is to be (somewhat) independent in the city.  Dog walking is kind of like babysitting.  Except there is less crying, more picking up shit, and an odd feeling of “Oh, my god, I am the only one keeping you alive!”

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This little nugget is Roki, the Shiba Inu.  He doesn’t jump around, he doesn’t lick your face, he doesn’t beg for food.  What does he do all day, you ask?  He lounges.  This dog is a Canine of Leisure.  He is basically a cat.  He has his own lounging chair with a window view of the courtyard.  Not that anyone else would want to sit on it — it’s covered in dog hair.  He is the Queen of Shiba Inu (see what I did there?).

Queen of Shiba

He doesn’t need you to pet him, he tells you when you can.  As if he is doing me a favor.  Oh thank you, Queen Roki!  I am humbled by your acceptance.  Please take this dog treat as a sign of my gratitude.  But honestly, that’s what I love about him.  My dog at home is so needy.  She stares at you intently, waiting for you to pet her.  You can see her trying to will you into a scratch behind the ears.  She sneaks in a lick to your face when you put her leash on.  She will crawl onto the couch, nuzzling against you until you tell her to get down.

But this guy, he’s like, “Eh, rather not.  More treats, slave girl!”

We have a routine.  Every morning I wake up at 6am, hit the snooze button til 6:30, and get up for our morning walks.  People are lucky if I am fully clothed for our morning walks.  I usually wear whatever shirt I slept in, a pair of shorts, and Vans with the heels folded over.  I don’t like our morning walks.  But funnily enough, even Roki doesn’t like our morning walks either.  He feels just as passionately about them as I do.  We do it because when we look at each other right before we open the front door, we telepathically say to one another, “It’s either this, or cleaning up dog shit first thing when getting back from work.”

We do the bare minimum for the morning walks.  We walk to the park right next door, do what needs to be done, and run home as fast as our combined six legs can manage.  He doesn’t like them so much that sometimes he tries to make me turn around and go home.  He blocks my path, which makes me almost trip over him every time.

He doesn't want to go on his walk today. #Shiba #Dogwalker #SummertimeSadness

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But then he gets to mock me while I get ready to leave for work in the morning.  I get out of the shower to this little bastard:

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I get it, Roki.  You get to lounge all day while I put food in the dog bowl.  But you don’t have to rub it in!  Wait until I leave at least.  

But it’s the evening walks where we truly shine. There is no time limit for the evening walks.  There is no rush.  So I let him lead.  This dog is amazing.  For the evening walks, he is completely in charge.  I let him go wherever he wants.  If he wants to go all the way up Kimball and then cut through a sleepy neighborhood street to poke around, I let him.  I let him because no matter what, he knows how to get home. 

He knows how to get home.  

I don’t need to pull out my phone, wondering where we are.  Because it doesn’t matter.  When he is ready, he will go home.  It’s like Doggie SatNav.  It’s awesome.  The only thing I have against the evening walks is that I get a lot more attention than the morning walks.  People stop me to ask if Roki is a fox.  It’s an alarmingly ongoing occurrence.  Yes, person I do not know, I have successfully captured a city fox, trained it, and can now gallivant about town with it.

But I can say that what’s worse than the dumb fox question, is the larger amount of cat calling that happens from our dog walks.  I have had people shout at me from cars, and ring the bells of their bicycles at us.  But Allex, you’re thinking, maybe they’re just excited about how cute Roki is.  I wish this was true, dear reader.  But one does not shout, “Hey pretty lady!” while admiring a dog.  I even got a few kissy kisses thrown at me.  This is part of the reason that I wear headphones while walking Roki, which blocks out the harassment, but also puts me in a dangerous situation from getting attacked.  Granted, it’s usually 6pm and still daylight when we go on our walks, but still.  It can happen.  I can either get harassed on the streets, or subject myself to danger.

Leave me alone, people.  I am walking my dog.  I am tired from working, and the last thing I want to deal with is what you have to say about me.  Just let me dog walk in peace.

But there are a lot of good things that come from our walks.  I know the local dogs — and sometimes even their cute owners.  The cute black collie that comes with its tall, dark, and handsome pseudo tortured artist owner.  The pug and beagle with their business-casually clad, thick rimmed glasses wearing Looper.  Hoping for my very own 101 Dalmations meet cute.

Hey, I can dream, can’t I?  Either way, it’s fun making these connections when I really don’t know these people at all, but always smile and say hello to.  That’s camaraderie.  I like dog walking.  I like dog sitting.  I like it all.  Except the picking up of dog shit.  That’s not ever fun.