CRAP! I do wish this synonym had been a sufficient expression of my reaction. I don’t even say “friggin!” But CRAP is not the word I hollered. In a flash, I realized I was holding the leash and collar of the dog I was walking for pay, but there was no dog attached. My mind clamored and I spun around to see the other side of the street, then back, and then down the sidewalk, shouting at the top of my lungs, “Crap! Cupid! Crap! Cupid!” “Stop Dog, Stop,! referencing the Pitbull that was in hot pursuit of what suddenly feels like my own dog. Running, I hear someone from behind, “Muzzy! No! Muzzy! I look back and cry, “I’m sorry! I don’t even swear!” And then, “I have to get her. She’s not mine. I’m a dog walker!”

How my brain can cram 1,000 images at once in mere seconds is beyond me. But is that dog’s name really Muzzy? Like, a muzzle? Like, he’s going to kill Cupid with his muzzle? Is the owner of Cupid going to kill me? But no, I recall meeting the owner and it occurs to me that she may thank me, and I cringe.  I knew that collar was too big! Then, will I get paid? We haven’t completed our 60 minute walk! “Cupid! Come here Cupid!” Didn’t swear. Whew, it’s out of my system. A bystander, and then another: “I saw her go right.” Out of breath I sputter, “Did she cross the street?” It’s rush hour, and I’m petrified. The bystanders assure me Cupid’s still on this side of the street. Whew, it makes sense. She’d sniffed her way down to Muzzy’s territory, and at lightning speed, Cupid’s sniffing her way back to her neighborhood. Good job, Cupid.

I’ve probably had more drama in the last week than my college aged kids. Who would have known that dog walking could be so, well, entertaining? The firm I’m working with, which I’ll call Tail, because I really do want them to succeed, I’ve discovered, is a start up. I realize that you can look back on my blog to see who this company is, but I’m hoping you’ve got a dinner to make or meeting to attend. And if you happen to remember, don’t be too hard on them. I’ve covered that.

I think the dog owners who go through Tail are probably pleased as punch. But for me, it’s been ruff. For example, a job that was supposed to be 10 minutes away was really no less than 45. Another job I scrambled to get to at 7am cancelled on me as I was ready to depart, a previous owner requested me, and after I took the job, it had been taken by someone else. They’ve got some fleas to work out.

After another maddening experience last week, I’d decided there was too much at stake. I was about to lose big time at the Kindness Challenge, and it wasn’t worth the risk, not for me, or for the poor customer service reps who’d been working so hard to defend the deficiencies of Tail. So on Thursday I submitted my formal resignation which is really just a polite way of telling them that until things get worked out within their app, I’d like to be pulled from their list.

In spite of my resignation, it seemed Tail didn’t want me to go, because I continued to get constant notifications for walks. I did my best to ignore them until tonight after work. The appeal of making $20 while taking an hour long walk within one mile of my home tempted me beyond reason.

I should have known there could be problems. There’s a place on the app where the owner can leave notes, and there’s a place where previous walkers should leave notes. In this case, there were no notes from the owner. Not, “Cupid is shy, but if you do X she’ll be fine, or be sure to walk her on your left to be consistent.” No, not a word of advice about poor Cupid. Fortunately I’d read the previous walkers’ notes so I was prepared for a sweet, but skittish dog. And to be fair, the owner cared enough to pay someone to walk her doggy.

The owner was home and it was clear that Pam had other things on her mind besides to whom she was handing off her dog. She put the leash and collar on Cupid and scooched her out the door. “Bye, Pam! We’ll be back in an hour. I’ll take good care of her!” But she didn’t hear me; the door was closed.

Cupid was indeed skittish. But with coaxing and patience we made our way down the road. Cherry blossom trees disguised as parasols scattered throughout the yards and along the sidewalks. Cars inched their way towards home; there was no rushing at 5:30 on this road. The walk wasn’t what I’d had in mind, but the clouds made way for the cool blue sky. Cupid sniffed every blade of grass and I settled into gratitude at making $20 while I helped a dog get some fresh air.

We turned a corner and headed onto a side street. Some were single unit homes and others were duplexes. Bikes, toys, and automobiles that look like they might be someone’s hobby filled the yards and driveways. Kids played at the end where I could see a cul-de-sac. There was a lot to sniff and Cupid was comfortable. We made our way down about a good city block when I noticed a woman standing next to a brown truck in a driveway ahead on our right. A fine looking short haired dog hopped down from the seat of the truck. As is my routine when I anticipate another dog, I crossed the street. It’s just easier that way.

Just as we set foot on the sidewalk, with my back to the other side of the street and the truck, the fine looking dog, who I instantly assessed was a Pitbull, was aggressively sniffing Cupid, at which point, she whipped her head out of her collar that was too big, and like an arrow shot from a bow, was headed for home. I finally caught up with her, filled with relief. She was standing outside her glass door, looking in. After I explained the situation to Pam, she handed me the leash and said, “Oh, OK, you can take her back out.” I didn’t take her back out however. Cupid wasn’t safe with that collar that was too big.

I’ve met some sweet natured Pitbulls. When my kids were very young we almost got a Pitbull puppy named Patty. We’d fallen in love instantly. We decided to leave the humane society do some research. Would she and our beloved Golden Retriever Lucky be a good match? Patty, at 10 weeks old, seemed harmless enough. What I read has stuck with me after almost 20 years: A Pittbull will hardly ever start a fight, but they will always finish it. I’m so glad Cupid was a lover, not a fighter.

Note: the names have been changed (except Patty and Lucky) to protect the innocent and guilty.

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