Maybe some bits of cooked chicken too. And one of those collapsible water bowls, just in case people let us down.
I would live in a big city. The city of my childhood so I’d know all the nooks and sidestreets. Older dogs would be my specialty. I’m not in a hurry either.
I would wear wild socks, roll my jeans. The noise of the city would be our soundtrack. No Airpods.
Talking to my clients would be the best part of my job. If the dogs had a simple name, I would jazz it up with a nickname no one else would know. I would listen to their owners, take in preferences, and note them in my small color-coded Moleskin. The one that never leaves the front pocket.
I would love my dogs. Even the one-timers or the regulars who never became my friends.
If owners trusted me with their furries, I would aim to show them new bits of our city when it was safe, and people didn’t get in the way.
Tommy’s Place that changes out their back door water regularly. The fresh patch of grass that grows around the tree off the Bridle Path where no one hangs out or takes selfies. The corner where the sun breaks perfect and the crosswalk is extra long. Perfect for a warmed concrete belly-flop wait.
My job would give me purpose. Somewhere to be. A waggie-tale moment in the lives of creatures who couldn’t care less how long they are here or why they’re even on the planet.
I would share the best treats, and they would share their wisdom.
If I were a dog walker, I would take my vitamins and eat ziti at Tommy’s every Friday night. I would work on Sundays and Mondays, too.
Most of all, I would work at being present. Rain, snow, or blistering hot, I would strive to be one with each walk. Rustling trees overhead, laughter, even the hidden sparkle in cement. Maybe I don’t have many friends. Maybe there is no one to make me soup when I’m sick, but if I were a dog walker, I would still be one with souls outside my own.
Walking dogs in a big city would be a busy job, so I would eat lunch early and turn-in before nine hoping to make a dent in the stack of books near my nightstand.
At night, loneliness might creep through the cracks of my tiny apartment. On those nights, I’d review my walk-schedule for the next day and fall asleep knowing I had somewhere to be soon.
Yogurt for breakfast with granola. Hot tea in a thermos and a backpack, of course. Every great dog walker knows that freedom of movement is essential.
That’s all from the laundry room. Snuggle.