We’ve come a long way since we lived in caves and Rover was there to warn us of danger. He chased away saber tooth tigers and ate what he could kill. He would even clean up the scraps he found around the cave floor of the cave.
Today the tigers are gone but we still keep Rover as a source of love and comfort. We even pay a professional class of Human to exercise our pets and attend to pet needs. This troubles me as I walk through the park. Modern day walkers latch up a team of dogs and parade them down the street for which this class of professional caregivers are paid $12 per hour per dog.
They can make $60 with a pack of five. I’m guessing that’s more like $75 per hour equivalent because some of them are getting their $12 “cash in fist”: After-tax. Arrange two walks and you pocket $150. That’s over $38,000 per year for a couple of hours unskilled labor. Pretty good spending cash for a two hour hike.
While we call this “unskilled labor”, come the day when half the team are fighting with or chewing on the other half and the leashes become all braided up, you have your hands full negotiating a peace. When the pack chases two separate squirrels, heading in two different directions, you become a human rope in their tug of war. Or if just one puppy escapes the leash and chases grandma over the hill, the job demands a diplomatic-gerontology skill set.
In addition to untangling leashes, and making peace with grandma there’s the matter of poop.
If you are lucky, your charges will all be constipated, but how often does that happen? Neighbors and park wardens will insist upon the plastic bag pick up routine. Do walkers think about the message they are transmitting to the pooch? Fido is leading the person by a string, and looks back to see the crazy man picking up his excrements. What else could the dog think: “No no! Don’t you touch that stinky stuff. It’s meant to be left behind you jerk.”
Why must these walkers stroll along with such an insufferable attitude of condescension? They project a persona of erect, purposeful, nonchalance. Look closely and you’ll detect a hint of disdain. I’m no psychologist, but after spending a demoralizing day cleaning up after dogs, I believe walkers have to save face by assuming this supercilious posture. In my neighborhood, they are not exactly arrogant, but they carry an aura that says ” I am in complete control and I am proud to hold poop in my hand. LIVE WITH IT!”
This job requirement demands no technical skill but it is nevertheless demanding in its own way.
I have the highest affection for all the dogs I’ve had over many years. I only bring up the subject of professional pooch perambulators because dog walkers in my neighborhood are not as warm, fluffy and lovable as my pets. Of course, I am jealous of anyone pocketing $38,000 for a walk in the park. But there’s a more philosophical bone I have to pick with this profession:
In my darker moments, late at night while binge watching Kardashian reruns, I begin to suspect that doggy walkers segue into animal rights misanthropes. Aren’t they divorcing themselves from their fellow Humans? What evil is lurking in their minds? Do they wish the K9 race would replace the human race? Do they make plans to endow trust funds for Fido and Buffy? Or endow a graduate division for dog training school?
The rest of the world spends its vocational days interacting and matching wits with their fellow men, children or machines. Dog walkers are matching wits with Bella and Buddy. I’ve known some smart pets, but matching dog IQs vs. Human’s? Humans should aspire to something more. We should dream of higher challenges.
What are the career goals for this pet walking fraternity? Did they begin by watering plants and then graduate to feeding goldfish? Moving onward, do they work their way up the Habitrail to gerbils?
Is there no limit to how high up the success ladder a walker can climb? Do they hope to find dog-walk grandiosity by untangling leashes of ever larger teams of mutts? Fifty or sixty dog teams? Do they aspire to move on to larger animals: Horses, hippos or elephants? Can there be a Lifetime Achievement Award waiting at the top of this career ladder? How much could you make strolling the park, scooping up after a hippo? Could they earn enough money to fund a pachyderm trust fund?