(For other tips on how not to find a job, send me $29.99 and a self-addressed stamped envelope, and then another $29.99, followed by a third and final payment of $29.99.)
But back to The Dog Lady. (That’s not her in the photo; it’s a woman in Montana who knits with dog hair.)
A reader wrote the following to The Dog Lady:
“As a small-business owner, I recently was looking to hire a counter clerk with some technical know-how. I had quite a few applicants, including a woman I was keen to employ. In the second interview, however, she arrived wearing a striking wool vest, which she said she had knitted from the fur of her Bernese mountain dog.
This led to a long discussion of how she collected the sloughed dog fur, sent it away to be spun into yarn and knitted the sweater. It was too much information and kind of disgusted me. I ended up not hiring her and have felt guilty ever since. What’s your take on people who knit their pet? — Amy
The Dog Lady, aka Monica Collins, notes that people who make clothing from the sheddings of their dog may be perceived as eccentric — even though it’s really not that different from clothing made from the harvested fur of sheep.
Dog Lady, who refers to herself in the third person, says she personally ”cannot imagine wearing a garment knit from the hair of her dog.” But she gives the knitter points for inventiveness — even if the dog hair vest might not be included in most “what to wear for a job interview” tipsheets.
And she tells the letter writer: “As a business owner, you are free to hire whom you choose. And in this free country, there are no laws on the books pertaining to those who discriminate against people who wear dog hair couture to the workplace.”
Being an expert on unemployment, if not dogs, and having addressed this issue before, I would add this. Knitting clothing items from dog hair — though a lot of work — isn’t that new or unusual. Wearing them is not really all that freakish.
But given the country’s job situation, it might be best to wait on wearing fashions made from Fido, at least until you get the job, and it’s Bring Your Dog to Work Day.
(Photo: Larry Beckner / Great Falls Tribune)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 8th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advice, animals, applicants, attire, bernese mountain dog, bizarre, cleveland plain dealer, clothing, column, dog, dogs, eccentric, employers, employment, etiquette, fur, hair, how-to, impressions, job seeking, jobs, knit, knitters, knitting, monica collins, pets, proper, seeking, sheddings, sweaters, the dog lady, vests, yarn
In the best of all possible worlds, I would have a poop valet.
On our walks around the neighborhood, he would follow a few steps behind Ace and me, keeping quiet, and waiting to spring into action when his services were required.
It is not picking up Ace’s poop that bothers me so much, it’s lugging the brown and bulging sack around for the rest of the walk.
The poop valet’s job would be to serve as a courier, running the bag back home to my personal garbage can — three four, five blocks away – before washing his hands, checking his pencil-thin mustache, straightening his red vest and returning to see if his services were further required, because double-doody walks, while not common, sometimes occur. (My poop valet, in my imagination, looks a lot like John Waters.)
I can’t bring myself to toss Ace’s poop in other people’s trash. That would be bad manners even if I had a tiny dog. With Ace, it would be no small deposit, taking up valuable refuse space that’s not mine, and adding a lingering scent to the recipient’s receptacle – no matter how tightly I’ve tied the bag – that is anything but lavender, pine or lemony fresh.
As I said, I can tolerate the scoopage, and the brief period of stinkiness as I tie the bag, but being new in the area – and wanting to make a positive impression upon returning to my native neighborhood – lugging an ever-present, generally full poop bag, I fear, works as a strike against me.
It seems, with everyone I have met on our walks, it has been while clutching in my hand a giant bag of poop.
It’s nothing to be ashamed of, I know. Far more shameful would be not picking it up. But still, I find myself feeling slightly embarrassed and less confident at these moments. It’s hard to have self esteem when your self is carrying a steaming bag of feces.
Normally, I would just avoid meeting people – but people are friendly here, and Ace insists upon making new acquaintances, especially if the person is a female. (And I swear I never trained or encouraged him to seek out and befriend females. He just does.)
Poop bag-toting was never a big issue for us in Baltimore, because most walks were to the park, and he would wait until there to do his business. There would always be a public trash can nearby, often overflowing with other bags of — to use the local nomenclature — dog shit.
Here in Winston-Salem, though, most of our walks are through residential areas, with no communal trash cans. Here, people don’t say shit so much. Or even poop. Or even waste. My mother, a local, gets mad when I write about the topic – even though it’s one a dog writer can’t avoid stepping in from time to time. For better or worse, people are more civil here, act more polite, follow silly but sweet old traditions and wear well-pressed clothing.
I probably should start ironing my shirts (or maybe the poop valet wouldn’t mind doing that, too).
Being a large dog (130 pounds), Ace’s output (though it was less when he was on a raw diet) is pretty massive. Picture four or five Hostess Twinkies, in a pile.
I generally use white plastic grocery store bags for the chore, they being free and abundant, if not quickly biodegradable and best for the environment. Being white, being big, being full, it’s impossible to carry them discretely.
Making matters worse, our normal walking route takes us past a restaurant on the way home, with outdoor dining. At first, I would cross the street so as not to offend diners, but they have a water bowl set out for dogs, and Ace is thirsty by then.
With a poop valet, I’d have none of these problems.
As I see it, I’d still scoop – for I am not above that. I’d still tie the bag in an attempt to keep foul odors from wafting out, for I don’t consider that beneath me, either. But then I’d snap my fingers to summon the poop valet and he’d rush to my side. I would hold out the bag. He would take it.
“Very good, sir,” he would say. Then he’d trot back to my house, holding the poop bag in front of him with a fully outstretched arm, to dispose of it before returning to take his place behind us. He’d also always carry extra bags, just in case we needed one.
With the poop valet’s assistance, unencumbered by a big translucent white bag of poop, I would cut a far more charming, more appealing figure.
With a poop valet, I would no longer find myself in this position: “Hi, I’m John, this is Ace, and this is Ace’s massive output of fecal matter – one of two loads he will likely dispense today. Would you care to get a drink sometime?”
Had I a poop valet, he could carry my social calendar as well, for I’m certain – once I stop toting poop through the neighborhood – I will make many friends who want to go out, especially if I’m wearing well-pressed shirts.
Without one, I fear becoming known as the guy who’s always walking through the neighborhood with a sack-o-you-know-what.
“Oh, Poop Bag Guy. Yeah, I’ve seen him. The one who’s always wearing a wrinkled shirt, right?”
“Yeah, that one. Have you ever seen him without poop?”
“Nope, he always has it by his side.”
Eventually people would start shouting at me from across the street: “Hey, Poop Bag Guy! Howyadoin?”
In the event some of you are taking this too seriously, let me point out that lugging his leavings is a small price to pay for having the world’s most fantastic dog. And that, though big dogs leave big droppings, the loads of joy they bring far outnumber them.
In the event you’re a company that just so happens to market a handsome, discrete, odor killing poop bag “caddy,” let me say I wish you success, but that to me bagging, re-bagging and de-bagging just seems like too much work, and that I’m not willing to pay money to avoid being embarrassed (though we’ll happily run your paid advertisement).
In the event you want to be my poop valet, feel free to stop by and pick up an application, but be aware I can’t pay for that, either. It would me more of an internship, really — interns being used to doing the sh … stuff … nobody else wants to do.
And, of course, you’d have to provide your own red vest.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 20th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, bag, bagging, baltimore, big dogs, caddy, clean up, courier, dog, dog walking, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, etiquette, feces, first impressions, garbage, home, impressions, john waters, large dogs, lawns, manners, neighborhood, pets, pick-up, poop, poop bag guy, poop valet, sack, scoop, self confidence, self esteem, shit, socializing, stinky, trash cans, travels with ace, walking dogs, waste, winston-salem
When it came to Seattle, John Steinbeck found some charm in the downtown market area, but otherwise painted a bleak portrait. To him, by the time he and Charley rolled through the Emerald City, the flower was off the bloom.
Seattle had boomed repeatedly before he arrived, thanks to lumber, gold, shipbuilding and Boeing; and, decades after he was gone, it would boom again, thanks to Microsoft, Amazon and a slew of other high tech and biotech companies that located there.
The Seattle Steinbeck and Charley pulled into in 1960 was far different from the Seattle of today, and far different from the one he remembered — its rapid growth, in his view, having tarnished the land:
“I remembered Seattle as a town sitting on hills beside a matchless harborage — a little city of space and trees and gardens … It is no longer so. The tops of hills are shaved off to make level warrens for the rabbits of the present. The highways eight lanes wide cut like glaciers through the uneasy land. This Seattle had no relation to the one I remembered. The traffic rushed with murderous intensity …
“Along what had been country lanes rich with berries, high wire fences and mile-long factories stretched and the yellow smoke of progress hung over all, fighting the sea winds’ efforts to drive them off … Everywhere frantic growth, a carcinomatous growth … I wonder why progress looks so much like destruction.”
That’s not the Seattle I saw.
To me, Seattle seems a city that has come to handle growth far better than most. It’s one of America’s most scenic, literate, educated, progressive, well off and environmentally conscious cities. It’s green in all three meanings of the word. And it’s highly dog-friendly.
Maybe it’s a case of the difference 50 years makes, or of how city leaders have taken control of the reigns of growth. Maybe, too, Steinbeck’s less than flattering description was partly a result of being a little down when he arrived — what with his dog having been sick, himself being travel weary. Likely, Steinbeck — who waited several days in Seattle for his wife, who was having difficulty getting a flight – was getting a little crabby.
He spent three or four days luxuriating in his hotel room near the airport, watching “I Love Lucy” and other TV shows — not the best way to get one’s fingers into the fabric of a city — as he waited for Elaine Steinbeck.
Once she arrived, they visited the downtown market before heading down the coast of Oregon together to California. Sections of the original manuscript recounting his time with his wife were later edited out of the book — the “we’s” changed to “I’s”.
“… I walked in the old part of Seattle, where the fish and crabs and shrimps lay beautifully on white beds of shaved ice and where the washed and shining vegetables were arranged in pictures. I drank clam juice and ate the sharp crab cocktails at stands along the waterfront. It was not much changed — a little more run-down and dingy than it was twenty years ago.”
Seattle — now better known for grunge than dinge — would continue to have it’s ups and downs after he left. Two years after Steinbeck’s visit — the year “Travels with Charley” came out — Seattle was the site of the 1962 World’s Fair. In the late 60s and early 70s, its economy took a turn for the worse – to the point that one local Realtor put up a now legendary billboard requesting that the last resident to exit turn off the light.
Like all big cities, Seattle, during the suburbanization of America, faced seeing its core rot away — or, as Steinbeck described it:
“… When a city begins to grow and expand outward, from the edges, the center which was once its glory is in a sense abandoned to time. Then the buildings grow dark and a kind of decay sets in, poorer people move in as the rents fall, and small fringe buinesses take the place of once flowering establishments…”
It’s all subjective, though. Our impression of a new place is based on the tiny part of it we see, what transpires in that process, the mood we’re in while seeing it, and, often, who we see it with.
In my case, this time around I had two long-time residents serving as my hosts and tour guides. (More on them tomorrow.)
- I probably wouldn’t have seen the view of the skyline from Kerry Park; the street performer that plays and juggles guitars, all while hula-hooping; or the hotel that bears the same name as my dog. (More on that Monday.)
I’d been to Seattle before, but only in a rush-in, pester-people, get-the-story, rush-out newspaper reporter kind of way.
That — a hit and run — is not the correct way to meet a city.
Here again, maybe we can learn something from dogs. For starters, take your time. Forget your schedule, and all those other uniquely human notions. Instead, let the city hold its hand out to you. Circle it a time or two, explore the periphery, then approach it slowly. Give it a sniff and, if you like what you smell, maybe a lick. After that, you can jump up on it, snuggle with it, play with it, fetch what it throws, savor the treats it offers, even choose to become loyal to it.
In other words, to paraphrase the author whose route we are following, and who some might suggest failed to follow his own advice when it came to Seattle: Don’t take the trip, let the trip take you.
Posted by jwoestendiek November 13th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cities, dog, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, economy, environment, growth, history, impressions, industry, john steinbeck, market, pets, road trip, seattle, steinbeck, tourism, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, travels with charley