I'm blessed with two jobs. Actually four. But since writing doesn't seem like work to me, and I don't think being a student technically counts, I'll stick with two.
My first job is at a nursery. I work every Tuesday morning from nine to noon, and I absolutely love it. The kids are great, my co-workers are great, and even the pay is pretty good. But my second job is that of a lowly dog-walker. Having walked dogs for two years before I moved, I'd say I have a little experience. And so I present to you, dear readers, nine things your dog walker doesn't tell you.
1: Don't waste your money on a fancy dog-walking service unless it's your only option. Kids between the ages of 10 and 13 will charge the least and do every bit as good of a job. Most of them don't understand the concept of money (or how expensive everything is nowadays) very well. But if you don't have any kids in your neighborhood (or if none of them are homeschooled and you need your dogs walked before 4:00), try a college student. They'll charge more, but will probably settle for less than the going rate for professional services.
2: If you end up hiring a kid, expect some sort of parental involvement. This might range from getting Mom's phone number to Dad negotiating wages to someone actually going with the child on the walks. On a rare occasion, a parent might come inside your house, especially if you hire someone younger than 12 or who has never walked dogs before. You might want to discuss all of this beforehand.
3: Every once in a while, I'll bring a friend on a walk with me. Sometimes they'll even hold a leash. But I don't let them into your house.
4: Speaking of coming into your house, you can give me your garage code or some keys to the front door. I'm impartial, and I'll do my best to keep everything safe and confidential. I'm also pretty careful about locking up again afterwards. However, when I stop walking dogs for you, I'll need to meet with you to return your keys. If not, I'll just keep them as a memento.
5: I'm a lot more dedicated than you think. Wind chill is -5 degrees? I've walked dogs in that. Thirty-two degrees, rainy, windy? I've walked dogs in that, too. Unless I'm running a fever, I won't let sickness get in the way of my business. Heck, I walk your dogs more faithfully than I walk my own dog.
6: Speaking of my own dog, yes, I've called your dog by my own dog's name. Probably more than once. But I do remember your dogs' names. I've been known to get attached to my charges. Sometimes, I'll spend a little extra time at your house, just bonding. When one of my clients moved, taking my beloved Annie with them, I cried. (P.S.: I'd also love to know your cat's name, if you'd be so inclined to tell me.)
7: Sometimes, your dogs get so excited to see me that they wet the floor. I wipe it up when I get back, and if there's an all-purpose cleaner in sight, I'll use it. I don't want you to think that you've hired me for nothing. But don't expect me to wipe up wet pawprints after it rains.
8: If you could pay me on a regular basis, that would be great. I hate reminding my employers...wait a second....
Whatever I'm supposed to call you, I hate asking you for money. But I'm not giving my time and services away, either. You can pay me once a week or once a month, or every time I show up if you're so inclined. (Just a hint: younger dog walkers need to be paid more often. Cash on a weekly basis keep them motivated.) If your dog walker is high-school age, it's safe to assume they have a savings account and you can start giving them checks if you need to. But cash is better for tax evasion. Just kidding--we don't make enough to report.
9: Please communicate. If you're home sick from work, please text me so I don't trudge five houses down the street just to risk getting the flu. I had one client/employer/owner leave me daily notes. I'd spend quite a bit of time writing notes back. Of course, kids would be more interested in notes than older teens and college-age dog-walkers. But still, keep me updated when you don't need my services.
And there you have it! Nine facts about your friendly neighborhood dog walker...or at least the honest ones. Not all dog walkers have high moral standards, and I don't recommend you hire just anyone. Take your time to pick the right dog walker, just like you took your time picking your dog, and it'll be a match made on the other side of the rainbow bridge.
Do you have a dog? What's its name? Have you had any interesting experiences with dog walkers, or are you a dog walker yourself? Tell me about it in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers--and don't forget to like us on Facebook!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.