Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Afternoon Dog Tea

Coffee shops in Manhattan are the equivalent to a College bar scene. Seats next to outlets (for which we can plug in our computers) are the hoochie sorority girls making out with one another and sporting minimal clothing. And cafe patrons are the disgusting frat boys eyeing, longingly -- waiting for their chance to move in.

Ive never felt more connected to those frat boys. I would give anything to get a seat next to an outlet. Anything. That's how quickly my shiny, brand new Apple computer loses battery power.

In my local cafe, there are about four outlets. Two are near the front door -- the exact same door whose drafty engineering allows the brisk (piss freezing cold) air to come through and chill the hair on your arms. The other two seats are located in the back, near the heater... where it gets so hot, you can feel the sweat create a pool in the dimples of your lower back. These are the prime seats.

And today, I got one. I walked in after a day of grueling dog walking, to find an aura of Godly light shining down on the seat in the back -- beckoning me to its holy outlet. I sat down, and began furiously typing away when I noticed the seat next to me become occupied by a 30-something man and his cheesecake.

He took his fork and broke off a piece of the dessert. With broad strokes, almost like two swimmers belly flopping into each other, this man passionately, and with great fervor, smacked his lips around the first bite. And he continued to smack his lips with a vengeance in between truck driver swallows of his chosen beverage. Each time his mouth opened, strings of mucous and cheesecake connected the top from the bottom. And when he had filled his cake hole with enough food, his lips came down with a saliva-coated crack.

I wanted to kill him.

How difficult is it, to simply keep your mouth closed when you eat? Especially when you're sitting two inches away from another person? Moreover, cant you tell that your eating is making a sound?! I stopped typing and glared. This man was completely oblivious to his own "I was raised in a barn" vibe... and now he thought I was hitting on him.

His girlish waving and incessant smacking, made me rethink the situation's political protocol: Wasn't it sort of my duty, as a friendly neighbor, to advise this man on his disgusting, born-from-a-cow, habit? Or, by some crazy Judeo-christian credence, would that be considered "out-of-line"? I eventually decided on the latter, and with a defeated sigh, moved to a non-outlet table.

But even as I sit, across the room from this horse-of-a-man -- Even though his plate is now empty -- I cant help but viciously send eyebeams of contempt his way. He, along with his Manatee lips have ruined everything, and for that, I can never forgive him.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Save Me

I think I witnessed the efforts of a suicidal pigeon today. Either that, or the tiny bird was blind, deaf and drunk.

I was walking Wally (the aging boxer) when I noticed the little guy tempting fate in the middle of the street. "Pidge" looked like he had just come off a four-night drinking and hooking binge and was now wandering the paved roads with reckless abandon. He had given up on life and remained completely unfazed as looming tires came within centimeters of his little feathered body.

The whole ordeal broke my heart. Maybe I saw a little part of myself in the tiny beady eyes staring back at me over his dirty beak. I too hadn't showered in days, and was feeling the overpowering blanket of depression cover me with feelings of insecurity and uncertainty about my future. And sometimes, I eat things off the floor. It's like we were two soul friends connecting just at the right moment.

I felt horrible, and tried to devise a plan to talk him off the ledge. But I feared that approaching Pidge with Wally in hand would only push him further into the depths of despair. So, I stood on the side of the road and, with open arms (and matzah crumbs), coaxed the Winged Depressive over to me.

There was no way for me to explain -- in bird speak -- that everything would be ok. But I still felt confident about my exploits. Pidge got a new lease on life, and so did I.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Today started like any other. I woke up with a burst of excitement, brushed my teeth with Crest Extra Whitening, and imagined my face on the Wheaties box as I stared longingly over breakfast. (I know the coveted spot is reserved mostly for sports heroes -- and me being afraid of balls and competition doesn't help my chances. Still, I dream of the day, "Worlds Best Dog Walker" will make the cover.)

The weather was abnormally beautiful and I actually left the house sans long underwear for the first time in six months. Things were on the up and up, and I wasn't the only one who noticed.

Everyone was in a good mood, and the neighborhood felt like a Disney musical: Sunshine was pouring through the gorgeous blue sky, and the pigeons seemed to be freshly cleaned and flying about. I half-expected the squirrels to start singing and holding hands, and the delivery men to dance around lamp posts, tipping their caps.

Even the dogs seemed to be in good spirits as we skipped and sashayed down the block. It was a perfect day and nothing could go wrong... until Fizzy ate dogdoo.

I didn't notice at first, as I was kindly giving two elderly vacationers directions to a local eatery. But I could tell something was up as my shoulder was still tucked neatly in its socket. For a twenty-five pound dog, Fizzy has mastered the "tug-yank-and-drag" like a champ. Yet today, he was oddly docile.

Feeling uneasy, I slowly dropped my gaze to find Fizzy knee-deep in the largest deposit of dog poop I had ever seen. I stood in shocked silence, not sure what to do. I'd heard of such horror stories, but shrugged it off as an urban myth. And now, there I was staring it in the face.

On the one hand, it was the most repulsive display of consumption in recent memory. At the same time, I realized that I could enter Fizzy into any one of the reality-based competition shows, and he would have a fighting chance.

His eye caught mine just as the tourists were backing away slowly in fearful repulse. I have to admit, I was a little scared too. Fizzy's big, sweet grin was just barely peeking out behind the thick, chocolate layer covering his entire head.

It was both disgusting and heartbreaking. Here I am praising my amazing dog walking abilities, when I cant even keep my clients from eating crap... that cant be a good sign.

Feeling defeated, I watched the Wheaties box flash before my eyes as I took Fizzy home and washed his mouth out with soap.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bussom Buddies

Yesterday, I was followed by a hoard of homeless people,veterans, crazy dog-women, and yes, construction workers. I have no idea how it happened, but all of a sudden, I was the sweatpant-clad Pied Piper leading the lonely and disoriented around the city.

And I have no one to blame by myself. I cant help it that I'm friendly -- I come from the land of nice, Minneapolis. The place where, if you're not on the road, driving with the type of vicious passion that could kill a small cartoon character, you're bending over backwards to make sure that everyone else is happy. You open doors for others, offer up the last croissant and let people budge in line. Any action to the contrary is considered unnatural. That's just the way of life in the Mini-apple.

And that way of life works out wonderfully, until you take one of those doe-eyed, sweet as pie, petite, Minnesota girls and drop them into the sweltering, urine-based streets of New York. Here, you can walk by the same person four times a day, and not even crack a smile.

But I don't fit the mold -- Life, to me, is still a 1950's television sitcom complete with cordial neighbors, coiffed hair-dos and TV dinners. I cant help but beam and wave at any and all individuals I see along my dog walking path each day. This includes the elderly, doormen and vagabonds. (I usually avoid making eye contact with construction workers as I don't want to encourage them.)

But, on Thursday, March 22nd, every single person I had ever acknowledged, took it the wrong way, and I spent my afternoon travelling through a tag team of uninvited guest speakers who decided to "walk with me" as I worked.

It was bizarre -- as if each person was stationed around the city and knew right when their transient predecessor was finished. I probably had only 5-10 minutes between guests, and each took my previously friendly gesture as a genuine interest in their stories of leg surgery, dog problems or the onset of Hepatitis C.

Under different circumstances, I may have been very interested in hearing (almost all) of their (very brief) stories, but it's not the right time when I'm working.

What do you say to complete strangers who are jabbering your ear off about their time at war, their botched botox procedures or how they contracted a venereal disease? Since all I'm doing is "walking", its hard to pretend that I'm incapable of a conversation. So, I had to dig deep, go against everything Ive learned my whole life, and lay a hardcore smack down.

It was awkward at first, but once I felt that my new bussom buddies were impeding on my dog-time or personal space, I had to tell them that it wasn't ok. So, one by one, I politely let each of the walk crashers know, that they were seriously creeping me out.

After the last guest retreated (and the slow clap had subsided), I found myself, once again, beaming...but this time with pride. I haven't denounced my "Minnesota nice", I'm just adding a bit of New York savvy to my repertoire.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Strange thing happened today.

I was assaulted by two psychotic individuals hailing cell phone pictures of their dogs. I didn’t know these people – actually I had never seen them before in my life. And still, they freaked out, dodged traffic and, arms outstretched, virtually vomited their little pixilated puppies all over me.

One minute, I was enjoying a leisurely walk with Fizzy, the next, I was cooing awkwardly over fuzzy fingerprinted pictures still emulating warmth from the bottom of this stranger's pocket. And no, they didn’t want me to walk their dog... they just wanted me to look at him. After stroking their ego for what seemed like 10 minutes, I walked away feeling used.

Here's the deal: I’m not one to get excited over baby pictures (I’ve often compared them to awkward potatoes with faces), and I’m starting to realize that I just don't want to see random pictures of your dog either. Its not fun. Bring me a dog in person and you wont be able to tear my adorable little paws away from him...but the afternoon cellphone montage just doesn’t do it for me. Its sort of creepy.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Its freezing cold outside. The news is reporting zero and sub zero temperatures -- though I don't think its actually dipped below the teens. For New Yorkers its still considered the end of the earth as we know it. For Minnesotans, its what we call springtime.

Brief exposure to this "what-I-imagine-hell-to-be-like" weather can lead to frostbite in our little, canine friends. But we, your loyal dog walkers, still trek through the frozen tundra to make sure that no dog is left with crossed legs. We are the champions of winter. While you are sitting, toasty in your fancy office, sipping your margaritas and being fanned by a band of Tropicana girls, I'm trying to defrost the icicle snot that has formed on my face.

But I'm not complaining. I'm wearing two layers of long underwear over my thick, knit stockings; hand warmers in my heavy duty gloves; a ski mask; goggles and mascara. That's right. I may look like the love child of the abominable snowman and his Yeti mistress, I may have to "pee on the go" to maintain feeling in my legs, but underneath it all, I like to look nice. After all, I'm a professional.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I dont like you in that way

Today, Clifford humped me in broad daylight. Thats right, in the middle of the day, on the busy, Chinatown sidewalk, 90-lbs-of-hunkin'-love took a running leap into my lower back and proceeded to vibrate to the high heavens. No, this isn't the first time Clifford hit on me, it was just the first time he couldn't wait until we got into the safe confines of his building elevator.

And since there were no elevator walls to bounce off of, I went flying (Im talking: arms and legs flailing) roughly 2 feet into the fish-tainted air, only to land face down in the street.

The worst part? Don't know if you've ever traveled to Chinatown... but it is probably the most convoluted area in the city: street vendors, tourists and inhabitants traverse the streets at a constant stream. Today, there were maybe 50 people walking by. And no one...NO ONE, stopped to help.

There I was, lying on the ground with a large, furry, man-dog attempting to rape me, and the most I got was one person who asked me to move.

Maybe I have too much faith in my fellow man. But, Ive always thought if I saw someone in need, I would do what I could to help. And a small girl being violated by Big-foot-in-dog-form, qualifies as such.

Are New Yorkers just completely desensitized? If the same thing had happened in Minneapolis, someone would have called the Fire Department and my harrowing ordeal would have been on the nightly news ("Local girl rescued from loins of neighborhood dog").

Not so, here. In New York, Ive got to fend for myself.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Juggling Act

Today was a hard one.

I was walking Fizzy and Billy, trying to keep my balance as they both pulled in opposite directions, tripping over myself and dodging delivery men, small children and garbage cans along the way. Finally Billy found a desirable spot to go to the bathroom.

I steadied myself into a crouching-tiger type position, in order to keep hold of the dogs while picking up after them at the same time. And then it happened. Fizzy took off in a strong gait down the block. I wobbled momentarily, but soon, my growing thigh muscles (still sore from the "stairmaster-esque" daily routine of 5th floor walk up apartments) stabled my squat once more.

But Fizzy wasn't happy waiting for me to finish cleaning up after his friend. Through the corner of my eye, I could see the little bugger slowly retreating backwards as if to "wind up" for some amazing Olympic-like sprint. For a second, there was complete silence. I took this as an opportunity to continue my task. And then, mid-scoop, everything came crashing down. Like a shotgun, with all his might, Fizzy took off.

Unfortunately for him (and eventually for me), my jaws-of-life grip on his leash, and amazing cat-like reflexes repelled the little guy back into me -- more specifically, into the bag of poop I was holding. Which, in turn, flew (open side up) unto my newly cleaned jeans. It wasn't a direct hit, as much of a long smear.

For the next few minutes, I stood, open-mouthed, in complete amazement -- shifting my gaze from Fizzy, to my chocolate covered pant leg, and then back again. Occasionally, I would give Billy a look to see if he could provide any assurance or comfort. He couldn't. No one could. The fact was clear: I was covered in poo, and there was nobody to blame but myself.

I've decided that tomorrow, I'm going to wear plastic pants...and maybe carry a hose. No point in dressing nice anymore. If nothing else, I need to start bringing a camera. Whats the point of being covered in dogdoo, if no one will see it?