Tag: dog walking
Oftentimes, when to pursue your own dreams and interests you stop working for “THE Man” — as I did six years ago — you end up, unfortunately, without “THE Salary” and without “THE Benefits.”
That — the no more health insurance part — is why I haven’t seen a doctor in six years.
That — the no more salary part — is why, in addition to being an author, freelance writer, photographer and blogger, I recently became a bartender and, even more recently, a dog walker.
I suppose I should be thanking our President for finally being able to get myself some health insurance. He’s the one who made it possible. But Lily, sweet Lily, made it doable.
If being paid to spend time with Lily makes me a gigolo, then call me a gigolo. True, I come calling on her twice a day, three times a week. I knock on her door, give her a hug when it opens, and then wrap her coat snugly around her, making sure her fluffy white ears don’t get caught inside.
We ride the elevator down to the first floor of the assisted living center in which she and her owner live and go outside for a 20-minute stroll — during most of which she walks daintily along the top of the curb, like a tightrope walker. She fastidiously poops in the same spot each time, in the woods on a vacant lot. She stops when I stop, goes when I go, and has never once caused the slightest tug on her retractable leash.
After the walk — and I’ve never met a dog who’s easier to walk — we go back inside. Then we sit in the lounge area and snuggle for maybe five minutes. That is my favorite part and, though it may be vain of me to think so, her’s too.
My other favorite part is seeing the reaction of residents when a dog comes into the room, the smiles that instantly appear and the hands that reach out. It’s amazing the change in atmosphere one dog’s presence can produce.
I’ve often thought it would be great to run some kind of program that not only brought dogs into facilities for the elderly, but found them homes there, and provided support and help to residents who wanted dogs of their own, but had concerns about whether they could manage it.
That would be fun, and noble, and help homeless dogs, and assist in bringing immeasurable joy to people.
But it wouldn’t pay my bills — much less provide health insurance for me.
I charge Lily $6.50 for each session.
In a month, that earns me enough to pay my $137.67 monthly health insurance premium, as determined by the Affordable Health Care Act, based on my income.
That income pales in comparison to what I made as a newspaper reporter, back when I worked for THE Man. I left my last newspaper job in 2008 to write a book, but also because, amid continued shrinkage and cutbacks, it had become nearly impossible to do a story justice and give it the attention it deserved. After that my dog and I traveled the country, and I tinkered with another book, while continuing to write this blog.
We ended up in North Carolina, and last year moved to the little town of Bethania.
A few months ago I started working the bar and grill at a golf course down the street from my rented house. Not to bore you with my finances, but that two-day-a-week job, coupled with my newspaper reporter pension, makes it possible to pay my rent, bills and other debts. I wasn’t bringing in enough for health insurance, though, and — after countless hours wandering around healthcare.gov — I had pretty much decided I would continue do without, pay the penalty fee, and treat any diseases or disorders that arose with chicken soup and ibuprofen.
One afternoon, at the golf course, the aunt of another employee visited and told me about her dog-walking business — business maybe not being the right word. It’s sort of more in between a business and volunteering. She helps residents of an assisted living center with chores, ranging from shopping trips to dog walking, charging a rate that does little more than pay for her gas.
She, like me, feels strongly that dogs can improve the lives of elderly people, especially those who live alone. I told her if she was ever in a pinch, and in need of a fill-in dog walker, I’d be glad to help out.
A few weeks later she called, and I began walking Miss Lily — at first temporarily, then regularly.
The insurance plan Lily has enabled me to get is not the kind that pays for everything.
It’s more, as I understand it, the type that, after I spend $3,000 or so I don’t have on doctors, will kick in and pay 60 percent or so of my qualifying medical expenses. Even with it, one good medical crisis will probably still send me into financial ruin. But at least it’s something, and I’m abiding by the law, and it might make me more likely to visit a doctor.
And even if I don’t, I’ll still be reaping some health benefits – between all the dog cuddling, which is good for the heart, and all the dog walking, which is good for the heart.
I’m sure there will be much confusion, red tape and arguing ahead when it comes to my health insurance. There always is. And with my income being of the fluctuating variety — depending on the stories I sell, the dogs I walk, the beers I serve — I don’t understand how we will determine the premium I should pay in the future. Is it based on last year’s income? Or this year’s income, which I won’t know until the year is finished?
Just last month, two more dogs showed up at the assisted living facility. First came a Boston terrier named Punkin. I take him for three walks a day, three days a week. Then came Gretel, a miniature schnauzer who is 13, and the fastest walker of the bunch.
For the record, Republican leaders, that doesn’t sap me of any incentive. I still want to have as much money as you. I’d still like to have the kind of health insurance you have.
But at least I can take a rebellious sort of pride in the fact that I’m not working for THE Man.
No. Not me. I’m working for a kind and gentle, polite and refined, sweet and loving curbwalker. I’m working for THE Poodle.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 4th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: affordable health care, animals, assisted living, benefits, costs, dog walking, dogs, dogwalking, elderly, escort, gigolo, health, health care, insurance, lily, newspapers, north carolina, obama, obama care, pets, poodle, premiums, president, salary, the man
The Humane Society of the United States may not have Jerry Brown on a leash, but the organization’s state director takes the California governor’s dog out on one — nearly every day.
Jennifer Fearing is a regular dog walker for Sutter, the governor’s corgi, and gun rights groups are saying the free service she provides — on top of giving the lobbyist undue influence — may amount to an illegal contribution.
“Does the hand that holds the leash of California’s ‘first dog,’ cuddly corgi Sutter Brown, also have a hand in guiding policy with the dog’s master, Gov. Jerry Brown?” an article in the San Francisco Chronicle asked.
Gun rights groups point out that all six pieces of animal rights-related legislation Fearing lobbied for in the most recent legislative session were approved and signed by Brown, including Assembly Bill 711, which, over the objection of hunters, banned the use of lead ammunition.
“The question needs to be asked,” said Jennifer Kerns, spokeswoman for Free California, a gun-rights group that opposed the lead ammunition ban. “Is there a conflict of interest with such a close relationship between a lobbyist and a governor.”
Kerns said gun-rights and hunting groups are considering filing a complaint with the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission
Critics say Fearing may be breaking the rules because she hasn’t reported the dog walking as an in-kind contribution.
“For someone who did not hesitate to take the moral high ground in denigrating the ethical standards of hunters during the campaign to ban lead ammunition, it is disappointing to see that Jennifer Fearing does not hold herself to those same ethical standards in properly disclosing her relationship with the governor,” Chuck Michel, California attorney for the National Rifle Association, said in a statement.
Fearing has been walking Sutter around the Capitol grounds since Brown took office in 2011, and their trysts have never exactly been a secret. The two toured the state together to campaign for the governor’s pet tax increase, which the Humane Society was in favor of. Last year, Sutter and Fearing joined the governor and animal rights activists to push for California’s Pet Lover’s license plate.
While it’s true the way to a governor’s heart is through his dog, Fearing and Brown (and we guess Sutter) are already of pretty like minds when it comes to animal welfare, so walking his dog isn’t likely changing the course of history. And as Fearing points out, the volunteer gig doesn’t give her direct access to the governor’s ears, just Sutter’s.
“I wouldn’t misuse that relationship,” Fearing told the Chronicle. “I deal with staff, and I go through the right channels,” she said.
Still, the arrangement provides gun groups with some ammunition, and their ethical concerns aren’t entirely off target.
Fearing says her love of dogs — not political gain — is what motivates her to walk Sutter.
“I would like to believe that we live in a civilized society where you can do neighborly things like walking people’s dogs.”
(Photo: Jennifer Fearing, senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States, with Gov. Brown’s dog, Sutter; by Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 28th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ammunition, animal rights, animal welfare, animals, california, corgi, director, dog, dog walker, dog walking, dogs, free california, governor, guns, humane society, humane society of the united states, jennifer fearing, jennifer kerns, jerry brown, laws, legislature, lobbying, lobbyist, pets, politics, sutter
Dogs. (Then again, they see the bright side in pretty much everything.)
With their owners spending more time at home, the pets of furloughed federal workers are likely getting more attention, more dog park time, more time to snuggle while watching daytime TV on the couch.
Let’s just hope no one gets too used to it.
The shutdown, while already hurting some pet-related business, is helping some others. The Huffington Post reports that business is booming, for example, at Muddy Mutt, a self-serve dog wash next to Shirlington Dog Park in Northern Virginia.
“I’m getting more business because people aren’t working,” said Andrew Low, owner of the Muddy Mutt, where dog owners commonly bring their dogs in after romping in the river. Low said the business is usually quiet during the week. But since the furlough? “Twenty-five on Monday, 14 on Tuesday, 23 yesterday… We don’t even ever come close to that.”
The furlough might be bad news, though, for professional dog walkers in the DC area.
Christina Bell, owner of Doggy Daze DC, said that business is down by about half since the shutdown went into effect. JJ Scheele says her business, Dog Walking DC, has also taken a hit.
“All the walkers are down anywhere from one to three dogs,” Scheele said.
At Just Walk DC, a dog-walking cooperative, Meg Levine said the decrease of customers, three days into the shutdown, has been slight. But between government-employed pet owners having more time, and less income, a protracted shutdown could hurt dogwalkers badly — not to mention the rest of the country.
“There certainly is a sense of frustration from a lot of my clients, who feel that this is just needless roadblocking,”Levine said. “For the most part, we are continuing to chug along and feeling very hopeful this will end soon. I like D.C. when it functions. Oh, this town.”
(Photo: Dog walker Meg Levine, courtesy of Just Walk DC)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 4th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, business, dc, dog walking, dogs, dogwalkers, dogwalking, economy, effects, employees, federal, federal government, furlough, furloughed, government, government shutdown, home, pets, politicians, ripple, shutdown, washington
David A. Lewis, 29, died Saturday on a hike in Greenville County with his girlfriend and dog.
“His dog got away from him, and started running for the falls. Then he went after his dog and reached for his dog. And as I understand it, when he reached for the dog, they both went over the falls,” Greenville County Deputy Coroner Kent Dill told WYFF
The dog was able to get his footing and get back to level ground, Dill said.
The girlfriend suffered some bruises while trying to make her way down to Lewis.
Lewis was a landscape architect with Earth Designs in Pickens.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, david lewis, death, dog, dog walking, dogs, falls, greenville, hike, hiking, ledge, pet owner, pets, saves, saving, south carolina, walking, waterfall
It’s probably safe to assume she meant well, but a 70-year-old disabled woman has been cited by police for letting her dog walk run down the street while she followed it in her car.
The woman’s car was stopped by police in Madison, Wisconsin, and she was ticketed for permitting her dog to run at large, according to Madison.com.
Police had been tipped off about the woman’s habit by neighbors, who had complained about the dog running free.
“At the time of the complaints, the officer tried, without success, to contact the pet owner,” said a police spokesman. “Now, after seeing the little white dog strolling down East Mifflin with a car following close behind, it rang a bell and he had the chance to talk to her.”
The woman explained to the officer that she walked her dog that way because she is disabled.
“The officer was sympathetic but explained she had to find another way to exercise her canine,” the police spokesman said. “He suggested putting up a fence and then issued a citation for permitting a dog to run at large.” The ticket is for $114.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 1st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, car, citation, disability, disabled, dog, dog walking, dogs, leash, madison, pets, street, ticket, unleashed, walking, wisconsin
A St. Petersburg, Florida, police officer shot and killed two dogs Sunday night.
Chris Clark, 44, said he was walking his Rottweiler, Quincy, and his landlord’s Chesapeake Bay retriever, Missy, when he heard a police officer shouting at him — Officer Slobodan Juric, who was investigating a complaint about a suspicious person in the area.
When Clark stopped, a third dog, unleashed approached Missy and the two exchanged growls. Quincy’s leash got wrapped around him. Clark fell and the dogs started fighting.
Clark told the St. Petersburg Times that he was grabbing his dogs’ collars, trying to pull them away, when Juric yelled “mad dog” and pointed the gun at Missy.
Clark said Juric fired one shot into the dog, pointed the gun at Quincy and fired another round, then fired two more shots into Missy.
“We’ve begun an internal affairs investigation,” said St. Petersburg Police Department spokesman Mike Puetz. “There will be a statement taken from (Clark) and from everybody who was a witness in the case, to try and discern the totality of the events and the appropriateness of the (officer’s) action.”
Juric, 25, has been with the department for more than a year. He was formerly a freelance photographer for the St. Petersburg Times.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 14th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, chesapeake bay retriever, chris clark, dog, dog walking, dogs, fight, florida, investigation, kill, kills, law enforcement, missy, news, officer, ohmidog!, pets, police, quincy, rottweiler, shooting, shoots, slobodan juric, st. petersburg, walking
A 60-year-old California man was killed while trying to keep his dog from being hit by a train.
Christopher Gray, of San Pablo, was walking his dog in Pinole Wednesday morning when he saw an Amtrak train coming down the tracks, near Pinole shores Park.
Contra Costa County Coroner’s investigators believe Gray was standing on the other set of tracks trying to hold his dog back from the oncoming train when a second Amtrak train came from behind and struck him.
The impact from the second train launched Gray into the path of the oncoming train, and he was run over, a deputy coroner said. His dog was also killed, CBS5 reported.
Gray was the second person this year to be killed by an Amtrak train in nearly the same spot.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 14th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: accident, amtrak, animals, contra costa county, coroner, death, dog, dog walking, dogs, killed, news, ohmidog!, pets, pinole, railroad, rescue, san pablo, save, tracks, train, walking
Paul Railton was fined and barred from driving for six months after taking his dog for a walk while sitting behind the wheel of his car.
Prosecutors said he was spotted by a cyclist driving slowly along a country lane in December, holding his dog’s leash through the car window as the animal trotted alongside.
Railton pleaded guilty Monday to not being in proper control of a vehicle, but told the court that “a lot of people exercise their dogs in that manner,” MSNBC reports.
His lawyer said Railton, 23, acknowledged “it was a silly thing to do and there was an element of laziness.”
Railton was ordered by magistrates in Consett, northeast England, to pay a fine of about $100. He also received three penalty points on his driver’s license, leading to him being barred from driving for six months.
Several British newspapers reported that Railton was involved in an attempted murder case last year (drive-by shooting?), but that the case was dismissed because of police misconduct.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alongside, banned, barred, car, dog, dog walking, dogs, driver, driving, england, fine, laziness, lazy, lazy brit, leash, news, paul railton, road, street, walk, walking
Dogs are better walking companions than humans on almost all counts, a new study shows, with the possible exception of conversation (though I generally favor them in that category as well).
Research at the University of Missouri has found that people who walk dogs are more consistent about regular exercise, walk at a brisker (therefore more healthy) pace, and show more improvement in fitness than people who walk with a human companion, according to the New York Times health blog, “Well.”
In a 12-week study of 54 older adults at an assisted living home, 35 people were assigned to a 5-day-a-week walking program — 23 walking with a friend or spouse, 12 walking dogs at a local animal shelter.
The dog walkers showed a big improvement in fitness, while the human walkers began making excuses to skip the workout. Walking speed among the dog walkers increased by 28 percent, compared with just a 4 percent increase among the human walkers.
“The improvement in walking speed means their confidence in their walking ability had increased and their balance had increased. To have a 28 percent improvement in walking speed is mind boggling,” said Rebecca A. Johnson, a nursing professor and director of the Research Center for Human Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Johnson said the dog walkers were far more consistent in sticking with the program than those who were walking with humans: “In the human walking group, they were regularly discouraging each other from walking,” she said. “Missouri is a hot state. We would hear them saying: ‘It’s hot today. I don’t want to walk, do you?’ ”
The dog walkers, on the other hand, were nearly always up for the task:
“When the people came to the animal shelter, they bounced off the bus and said, ‘Where’s my dog?”’ Johnson said. “And the dogs never gave any discouragement from walking.”
The study, not yet published, is continuing, and Johnson said she suspects differences will show up in other areas, like depression and anxiety.
Already, though, Johnson said, many people in the dog-walking group stopped using canes and walkers. “They would say, ‘Now I’m physically fit enough to take my dog for a walk,”’
Posted by John Woestendiek December 16th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adults, assisted living, balance, better, center, college of veterinary medicine, companions, confidence, dog, dog walking, dogs, fitness, health, human animal interaction, humans, improvement, older, rebecca a. johnson, research, speed, study, university of missouri, walk, walking
I want Muttens.
A friend sent me the link to the website for Muttens, which are basically retractable gloves that allow you to pop your fingers out and do what you need to do with them — pick up poop, tie your shoe, answer the cell phone — then recloak them in warmth when you’re done.
But they’re made primarily for dog walking – developed in Chicago (necessity is the mother of invention), by Jim Devers, who got tired of freezing his hands off everytime he had to scoop up the poop of his Pomeranian, Bailey. You know the drill — you take off your mittens or gloves, or at least one of them, pick up the poop, tie the bag, toss it in the trash can, then realize you have only one glove left.
With Muttens — sort of the convertible version of mittens — you can free your hands for all those tasks that require some nimbleness — like hooking and unhooking the leash, poop disposal, getting your key out of your pocket. You can even hold the leash — even a retractable one — inside the mitten.
The cleverly named hand warmers run $19.95 a pair, or six pair for $60.
(Photo courtesy of Muttens.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 16th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: chicago, clothing, cold weather, dog, dog walking, dogs, dogwalking, fingers, gloves, hands, jim devers, mittens, muttens, poop, products, retractable, scoop, tasks, warm, winter, winter wear