Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What Not to do on a Consult

I had a new client consult today, whom I should have screened out. Their previous dog walker dropped them after 6 weeks because the dog growled at her when she reached for a toy. As illustrated in my previous post on Dave & Buster, dog walkers commonly downgrade bad behavior when telling on the animals to reduce the shock value to the humans. I should have thought of that.

I agreed to at least meet the dog. Meanwhile, the humans were doing everything in their power to correct the situation. They had meetings lined up with a trainer, a vet, a behaviorist, and more than one dog walker to check for personality conflicts.

The dog was a little scared, as indicated by some barking and a tail pointing down almost between his legs. He accepted a good rub down and was extremely food motivated, good signs. He was also a mama's boy, constantly looking over to his human to see if this was ok.

We went through his shot records which included a Lyme Disease vaccination. BAD IDEA! I know of another dog who became aggressive after receiving this shot bit a kid. The client realized as we were talking that this behavior didn't start until after the shot.

We went on a short walk, I gave the dog a treat, and everything seemed to be looking up. Before I took off I said, "Oh can I say hello to your cat over there?"

"Of course!" She replied. I tried to walk past the dog happily munching on his treat and BAM! He had my wrist in his mouth. I backed up against the wall (stupid, I should have gone for the door) and he bit my leg two more times.

His mom got him into a room and we assessed the damage. She was very apologetic and helped me get cleaned up. I'm pretty impressed with how well I held it together. I didn't want her to feel bad and still recognized the goodness inside this dog. She got band aids and ointment for my wrist and I kept mum about my leg. I didn't want to cause any more of a scene. I heard a ringing in my ears and saw some stars in the sunny afternoon sky that meant I needed to sit down right now. I decided I could sit down in the car, which I did, and just wanted to get around the corner so I could tend to my leg with my first aid kit.

I made it to the car and, backing out of the curved driveway, I hear a thump. I bump into things all the time with the old Subaru so I figured I might as well keep going. Nope. I landed in a ditch. I tried going forward, after all I have All Wheel Drive. Nope. I had no choice but to get out of the car and reacquaint myself with this person who now has a delinquent dog and an Outback stuck in her yard.

Not to worry! The lawn guys down the street called up to us, "We'll be right up to pull you out!" I had to tell on myself and pointed to the wound on my leg. She got the band aids and ointment back out and we cleaned that up,  too. We had to make even more small talk waiting for an excruciating amount of time for the lawn people to weed whack and tidy up the edges. For a moment I'm actually considering being facebook friends with her because she's actually kind of cool.

Finally, the lawn people come up and pull Old Faithful out of the ditch and I gave them $20 for sheer coolness. Yeah, he has a couple of extra beauty marks on him but we were back on the road in one piece. I need an alignment anyway.

The Monday morning quarterback in me sees a number of things I did wrong. I have a new policy in place that I do not accept clients with any history of aggression. I stopped by Urgent Care and got a tetanus booster. The doctor says there are no signs of infection. Mindfulness continues to be a skill I hope to cultivate.

The clients surrendered their dog to Animal Control and reported the bite. He will be kept in quarantine for 10 days to ensure he does not have rabies as a precaution. I vouched for his character, though it does not look like he will be adoptable. Please think twice before ever getting the Lyme Disease vaccination for your dog.

Old Faithful has a few spa days scheduled to get a repair and tires for which I've been saving all summer, and an alignment.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dave & Buster Run Away

This is one of those entries where names (obviously) have been changed so I don't lose my job.

I used to walk a dog, Dave, who was allowed to run loose in the neighborhood. The owners never thought anything of it until they adopted Buster, and then all of a sudden the rules changed and they weren't allowed to run. I'm still scratching my dreads over this one.

Walking Dave and Buster was always a trip because Dave often didn't want to leave the comfort of the yard, or sometimes even the house. We would head out on our walk and then, plop, 100+ pounds of Dave wasn't going anywhere. Buster, by default, always did whatever Dave did.

So one spring day when it was pouring rain and I was drenched, several walks into my dripping wet roster before heading off to my second job at the time, I decided to cave. I would let Dave and Buster use the front yard to potty and then we would all head inside for some nice dry fun. That is, if I could even get their lazy butts to leave the house.

I opened the door and didn't even bother with the leashes, thinking I was going to have to tractor pull them outside anyway. Dave looked at me for a brief moment, got a twinkle in his eye and a twitch in his tail, and booked it outside with Buster by his side. In an instant, they were gone.

I immediately started walking our route, cutting through the neighbor's yard on foot. Dave, not the brightest crayon in the box, usually goes for our walk when he runs away. I did our mile long route to no avail.

They hadn't come back home. I waited for them, running at least an hour behind schedule now. Nothing. I got nauseous, sobbed, and dry heaved, knowing the rage I would feel if my dog ran away on someone else's watch. Knowing that I had just let the best job ever run off into the rain because I didn't hook up a damn leash. I had no choice. I had to move on to my next pet sit if there would be enough time for me to come back and look for them before going to my second job.

I started driving to my next pet sit when I saw something in the distance. Two very familiar shapes, one brown and one red, with wagging tails coming clearer between my windshield wipers. I pulled over and two sopping wet, very impressed-with-themselves, dogs checked out my ride.

I opened the passenger door and shouted "BOYS! Get in the car!" Buster looked at Dave to see what the plan was. Dave was considering. I grabbed my box of treats from the back seat and shook it. Buster jumped in. Reluctantly, Dave did the same.

On the way home they wrestled each other for the front passenger seat and made my car stink to high hell. What a wonderful day! They got a romp in the rain, treats, and a car ride. I pretty much had a heart attack.

In moments like this, what do you leave in the note to the client? "Dave and Buster got away from me for a moment, but I got a hold of them and all is well. From now on I won't let them leave so much as the kitchen without a leash on. No one pooped." Wait, let me check my pants. Yeah, no one pooped.