At Least the Dogs Had Fun
Even for the most seasoned of professionals, walking the dog doesn't always go as planned.
Lisa Gates |
Posted: September 24, 2014, 6 a.m. PST
"At least the dogs had fun” was my 8 year olds response to what I, as a professional dog walker, describe as a debauchery. Most days are wonderful, uneventful outings. This adventure was the Gong Show.
After spending two hours and two hundred dollars, getting my kids lice-free at a fancy salon that guarantees no more bugs only to be told by a friend there are no guarantees with lice, we headed off to dog walk. During the summer, my eight year old twin boys, Hugh and Stu, join me on dog walking excursions. We picked up six dogs and went to the beach. We had two Labs, Reba and Maggie, a Swiss Mountain Dog, Rose, a Shiba inu named Hunter (also known as Flash Gordon) and our dogs Tinkerbell, the slowest Basset Hound until a picnic is spotted and Bentley, our Golden Retriever who has the canine version of Pica, an eating disorder of consuming everything including napkins.
The beach allows off leash dog walking and is a popular destination for kid’s day camps, picnics, tourists, fisherman and naked people who stay at the north end. Parking was limited which should’ve been the first sign to turn back. As I opened my door, Hunter flew over my head like a bat out of hell. Hugh raced to capture him, taking Tinkerbell along for the chase. Being the speed of light, Flash Gordon probably had already destroyed a picnic, rolled in a dead bird, stolen a Frisbee and his favorite thing to do at the nude end: sat and stared at naked people (that is for another post). I had not ruled out pretending I didn’t know him.
Stuart and I rushed to the beach with the other dogs, immediately spotting Hugh holding both dogs and screaming for help. With Tinkerbell pulling one way and Hunter the other, Hugh reminded me of Gumby, arms stretched in different directions. Stuart sprinted down to help before Hugh snapped in half. As Stuart grabbed Hunter, Tinkerbell wiggled out of her collar and flew towards a picnic, like the 1964 cartoon character Underdog with her long ears flapping and tail wagging with excitement. All she needed was a cape. Hoping I remembered money to pay for stolen sandwiches, I hollered and begged her to come but my pleas fell on deaf ears. Excited by the action, the other dogs started wrestling at my feet, tangling me up. In order to detangle, I "unleashed the hounds”, who took off like a bunch of wild horses, running in different directions. But Bentley, he remained rolling at my feet. Hunter was bathing himself in a dead bird, Reba was consuming shells, Maggie was frolicking in the water, Rose was barking at me to throw the damn ball and Tinkerbell was pooping next to the picnic (which was better than eating it.)
These are normally well behaved dogs with impeccable recall but there I am, a professional dog walker, standing alone with an 85 pound golden flailing around on his back. Instead of looking like a dog walker, I looked like an owner who couldn’t get her dog up. Two women yelled at me to pick up Tinkerbell’s poop, threatening to phone the authorities. Still on his back, I dragged Bentley towards the poop. The twins were busy trying to leash the posse of dogs. The shit show had begun.
My options: I pretend I didn’t know the dogs, my children, run for the hills or attempt to regain control without letting anyone know I had lost control, smiling, bluffing like this is normal and fun. Stressed out but acting cool, I said hello to tourists walking by, kids and parents, laughing how cute the dogs are rolling in crap, eating crap and crapping next to picnics. Voice control had flown out the window along with our family’s famed chili recipe handed down for centuries (none of us can cook anyway).
We rounded up dogs, picked up poops and walked towards the deserted end of the beach. Catching my breath and thinking we were clear from chaos, Bentley snagged a plastic bag of bait. Knowing about vet bills that come from ingested plastic bags, I pried open his mouth and shoved my hand down his throat. As I saved the bag from the depths of my golden’s intestines, the twins yelled "Rose mom!” With the bait bag in my hand broken, slimed up from saliva and dead fish all over, I turned to see Rose scarf down seaweed. Noticing I was distracted and being the opportunist, Bentley grabbed and swallowed the bag leaving no chance for extraction this time. I charged over to Rose, as the twins corralled the dogs with the exception of Hunter and Tinkerbell who were already en route to a picnic of naked people.
We dashed to get them but as Stu leaned down to grab Tinkerbell she jetted off, leaving us in the dust. We snagged Flash Gordon, Hunter and eventually, Tinkerbell returned, because unlike Hunter who is fascinated by naked people, Tinkerbell is afraid of them. This is no indication of their home life. The naked people were enjoying the fun loving dogs and I was thrilled to be their entertainment.
Feeling exhausted and beaten up, we made it back to the car, where Bentley jumped in and barfed up the bag, creating another mess but saving me a trip to the vet. The silver lining, the dogs had a fantastic time, the authorities were not called, no picnics were destroyed, no one was bothered and I didn’t have to pay a $2,000 vet bill for bait bag removal surgery. Three weeks later, I am happy to report my kids remain lice free.
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