As dog walkers, we have our own relationships with the dogs we care for. It doesn’t involve their owners, or anybody else. Just us and them. We’ve battled snow, ice, rain and blazing hot temperatures together. We’ve kissed their faces more times than you could imagine. They are a part of our lives and we grow to love them as you do.
And then one day we get a text message. “We’re moving out of town. Won’t need you anymore after next week.” That’s it. Whoa! Slow down! We’re not ready to say good-bye!
Dog Walkers Get Attached!
Here’s an example– this is Rufus:
I got a call last year from a very nice couple. They had 3 dogs, but Rufus was their concern. He was a rescue that had lived on the streets with a homeless woman and man. The couple suspected that Rufus was abused by the man, as he had an immediate dislike of almost all men. Rufus was also very aggressive.
The first 3 or 4 visits with Rufus didn’t go well for me. He was on edge because he didn’t know me and his owners weren’t home. Just putting my foot inside the house made him bristle and growl. Quite scary! I went through 3 McDonald’s hamburgers and a whole box of treats in order to get him to relax with me!
Over the next few weeks we started settling into a routine. Now he liked me a lot! When I pulled into the driveway, I could see him going crazy with joy knowing I’d arrived. It was a great feeling and it always put me in the best mood. He practically tackled me when I went inside now, and we always started each visit with a full-body hug.
As time passed, Rufus and I became very close. I loved this dog! Over the holidays, I did an overnight stay at his house. We slept on the couch together and pretty much spooned all night. I became just as attached to this dog as any of my own.
Several months of walking Rufus pass away and everything is just perfect. We’re enjoying the nice spring weather, we’re walking a couple of miles each visit, and I’m staying way longer than 30 minutes because it’s my last job of the day. He and I unwind together.
And then the text comes: “We’re moving to Ohio. We won’t need you after next week.” Just like that. It’s over. I’m devastated. I’m only going to see Rufus 3 more times! I sit and stare for 2 solid hours while I absorb the bad news, and I gear up for the last walks.
On the final walk, I cry the whole time. Rufus is his normal happy self, enjoying the weather and scouting for squirrels. People stop to ask me if I’m okay. I’m laughing and crying at the same time because I know it’s absurd to feel this way. It’s supposed to be just a job! And then I put him back inside, kiss his whole face and we exchanged one final bear hug. I hid the house key in the backyard and left. Job over.
Rufus’ owners just needed some help walking their dog while they worked long hours. They probably will never know what went on behind the scenes between him and me. They will probably never know that I loved him so much.
Pet Sitting is Emotional Business!
So now I tell myself I’m not going to get this attached with new clients. But I am kidding myself– it’s why I got in this business. It really is all about the pets with me.
Now I just got word that one of my absolute favorite clients is moving from an apartment to a house with a yard. I’m selfish and don’t like this. Anyone that follows us on Facebook probably sees my posts of this girl: Belladonna, aka “Nugget.”
Nugget is leaving me soon and I’m already gearing up for the sad good-bye. I’m incapable of separating business from pleasure.
As my little company continues to grow, I’ll need to toughen up quite a bit. If not, I’ll alternate between dog-walking bliss and depression all the time!
So if you’re a client or potential client reading this, I hope you’ll remember that everyone here at my company, myself included, has our own relationship with your pets. We may send you the small update each day that says how the visit went, but it is really much deeper than that.
Until next time,