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  • Writer's pictureNora Bird

The Newbies

Not to bang my own drum or anything, but I'm awesome at half-assing stuff. I'm more than willing to do a mediocre job when it comes to cleaning my room, prepping dinner, ensuring kids have worked on science projects. I could phone in those tasks all day, everyday. You know when I refuse to be a slacker? At work.

It's true. If someone wants to pay me for a job and entrusts me with their furry family member, I'm going to make an effort. Crazy, right?

I understand that trust is important. I see that you love your dog. I feel that anxiety at having to leave your pet with someone new. The first time I left my kids with a sitter, I cried. The first time I left them at daycare, I cried. Their first days of school, first playdates & sleepovers all prompted a steady flow of brine from my eyes. I really do understand the stress and worry.

But dudes, please don't ask me if I'm sure I can take good care of the dog. You called me with a referral, you already know I will.

I can make any dog fall in love with me. I can't make them enjoy having their nails clipped but I can make it easier and still get kisses when we're done. No one asks the mail person if they're sure they've got the credentials and experience to deliver the mail.

"Hey buddy, you sure this is a good idea? You know, that water bill is pretty sensitive. I'll understand if you don't think you can handle it. Do you don't think it's too soon?" Your mail guy would probably ask you exactly how many antidepressants you took that day, take your temperature, and then tell you to get over yourself.

Barring any sociopaths (they're sprinkled in every industry) we're here because we love the animals. We want to care for them, play with them, love them. We want to be a presence in their lives.

You can't know how many people ask me whether or not the staff at the kennel will really care for their dogs. Dudes, they're not there because they fucking hate dogs! It doesn't pay close to well enough for them to put up with all the poop, barking and potential teeth. If they hated, no, if they even felt medium about the animals they'd be working at Subway.

Generally, the people providing animal care are well informed and vastly underpaid. This is not a glamorous job. I've come home poop in my pocket, no joke. My hands are tree bark. The rare occasion of an adult event results in heavy, overdone drag makeup. Your dog and I will be fine, besties even. We just want all the dogs. Please, you've come this far. Hand me the leash and go to Target. I'll call you when we're done. I’ve handled a lot of crazy over the years, it's nothing new. As I recently told a new client, “You're not the first or the worst.”

And, for the love of sanity, please don’t come back early for pick-up. In the same way that kids always guilt their parents, dogs are equally guilty. Drama with a side of howling, sad eyes and whimpering. All they want to do is get to you, their heroes who will protect them from the bad shampoo lady. But when you leave, no matter the trembling and stalling, they are fine. They kiss and sit on my lap and eat treats and receive love.

And if on the chance that your dog and I can’t work together, it's no one's fault. I’m only one person. Your dog might need an extra pair of hands to destress their nail clipping. Your dog might need the noise of another dog barking to distract them from what I’m doing. I can’t hold a pug in the air, feed it cheese wiz AND cut its nails; I don't have enough limbs. Dogs aren’t all the same. My house is (mostly) quiet and sometimes that's not the best space for a particular dog. It happens and it's no big deal. I can refer you somewhere else, it's nothing personal. Like I said, I'm awesome at half-assing stuff, but I will never half-ass the care or safety of your pet for an extra fee, it's not helpful to you or me and least of all Pedro the Intrepid Cattle Dog.

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