Walking Safely Isn’t A No-Brainer

After a dramatic incident involving an escaped dog today, a re-post of this entry about walking safety seems timely.

I walked into the building where most of my clients reside a little over an hour ago and was met with a shocked look on the face of Carmen, the lovely daytime concierge. She told me a dog had just run into the building with NO HUMAN IN TOW and entered an elevator, presumably in an attempt to ride up to his apartment. The building’s management team scrambled to figure out who the dog belonged to after securing him in an office and sending an intranet alert, and the owner came forward quickly. Then the poor dog walker wobbled into the lobby, sobbing and hysterical. She was unconsolable, because despite the fact that the dog was ok, she will surely lose her job.

This situation is precisely the reason I verge on having OCD about equipment safety. It’s the reason I pester my clients about having harnesses that I approve for security and quality. Because A) every dog walks differently with a stranger than with his or her owner (this also makes a case for hiring a consistent dog walker rather than a service that will send different people…a bond is invaluable in times of emergency and can decide whether your dog bolts or stays put and waits to have a leash re-attached), and B) it’s better to make your dog tolerate the feeling of a strap against its skin than to see it escape and…nightmare of nightmares…get struck by a car. It’s moments like these that prove my control freakishness is justified (ok, about this, but maybe not so much about my husband’s loafers being in the middle of the floor, I could probably relax a bit there).


I marvel at the many dog walkers I see wearing headphones or talking on the phone, dogs attached to belt loops, while crossing even the busiest intersections. I’m safety obsessed, probably due to my vast, and sometimes unfortunate, experience in all facets of animal care. I’ve rushed badly injured dogs into vet clinics, sobbing owners in tow, and assisted the vets as they fruitlessly attempted to save fading lives. Seeing the results of auto injuries and dog fights day after day as a veterinary technician was more than I could bear, because an animal in pain is sheer torture for me. You can explain injuries to at least adult humans, but animals have only to fear the worst.

(This walker is sort-of famous all over Chelsea/The Flatiron/The Village because he always has 10 to 15 dogs with him, and they miraculously stay exactly where he places them in the pack…

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Summer Lovin’

I very, VERY seldom take time off since it means leaving my clients to fend for themselves (that’s a lengthy subject fit for another post), but when I’m given a chance to see a special dog who moved and left a hole in my heart, I GO, with my amazing clients’ blessings. I like to think it’s not every canine caregiver who has plane tickets bestowed upon her so that she can travel to an ex-client-now-friend’s home and reunite with her pooch pal. That this was done for me by Summer’s parents, Elyse and Tom, is so touching that there are no words. I’ve stayed in contact with many past clients, even facilitated play dates between their pups and the pack mates they so sorely missed, but I’ve never flown to see them, nor have I been invited to stay in their families’ homes purely for the fun of visiting. The trip I took to Summer’s phenomenally beautiful Florida home created a precedent that I hope will become the rule, not the exception. 

Murphy, Riley and Nico were Summer’s walk partners, so their thoughtful mom sent me off with a gift from them.

My original flight to Tampa was canceled due to bad weather, but Summer tossed some of her good karma my way and I was able to board an extremely iffy standby flight the following morning.

Summer’s reaction when she saw me get out of the car was hysterical. She made noises like a deranged wildebeest as she raced toward me, then she knocked me to the ground and covered me with sloppy kisses from head to toe. We didn’t film because some moments are meant to be experienced, not documented.

This home is like paradise…or rather is paradise. No need for metaphor or simile. It’s a cluster of Spanish-style stone buildings, which Elyse aptly calls casitas, that surround a tile and garden courtyard. I’m a lover of flowers, so the colorful, frothy bougainvillea and mandevilla were candy for my eyes. Tree frogs sang at night and lizards scurried by day (I’m not the sort of girl who’s skeeved by these creatures, they fascinate me!). It’s heaven on earth. I’m so happy for Summer that she’s traded hectic NYC for this.

We dined out and explored St. Petersburg, which is delightfully dog-friendly. Every restaurant has outdoor seating with ginormous fans to circulate the stagnant air, and many offer dog beds and bowls of ice water. Tucker was licking leftover bacon grease from his nose in the last photo. Or maybe he was putting it on his nose for later. Hard to say.

It was a wonderful visit, but too short. After I packed my bags, both pups stuck to me like glue. Summer buried her head in my lap as if to avoid seeing me go. I scratched her ears until she felt better and then waved goodbye. But only until the next time.