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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Dances with Dogwalkers

I have a dog. The dog has needs. If you were to ask the dog, those needs would include a peanut butter IV and a private swimming pool filled with Snausages.

The dog is an idiot.

Meanwhile, she needs food and fresh water, a little exercise, an inordinate amount of medical care as it turns out, and a warm cozy place to sleep at night.

Also, for most of the afternoon. And ninety percent of the rest of the day. If she didn’t roll over after her oh-so-frequent farts, I might think the old girl was in a coma.

I digress.

The other thing the pooch needs, of course, is to drop off her waste. Now, she doesn’t technically “need” to do this somewhere other than our carpet or our couch or our kitchen floor — and based on her behavior, she’s well aware of this technicality. But I’d very greatly prefer that she whizzed and crapped elsewhere, every once in a while.

(To her credit, she used to be much more reliable — particularly back when we had a doggie door to assist her expulsions. She’s an old pup now, and missing a few working organs.

Her colon, sadly, is fully intact, and in fine working order.

The point is, it’s pretty understandable. At her equivalent age, I expect to be pretty much fully incontinent. I’ll tie a Swiffer to the back of my pants, just to clean up wherever I happen to be walking.)

So. On weekdays where we can’t make other arrangements, the missus and I hire a dogwalker to come and coax our dog’s bladder and ass over some patch of ground that isn’t supporting a bit of our condo’s hardwood. This is tremendously helpful.

Or so you’d think.

The problem with the dogwalker, as with so many things in life, is timing. I generally get out of the house at a certain time in the morning. I won’t say how late or how early — I wouldn’t want to frighten or disgust anyone not familiar with my personal scheduling peccadilloes.

The point is, we’ve asked the walker to come a couple of hours after I usually leave, and then come again four hours or so later. Which leaves another four hours or so before my wife or I would typically get home.

“If Mrs. Dinkleton down the block calls in to say that her precious poodle Fluffers has a hangnail today and is too depressed for her usual constitutional, then everyone else moves up the list.”

(Yeah, it’s a pretty long day. I used to feel bad for the dog, on the days she has to stay here alone. But every time I ever came home early or swung by for lunch, I found the dog sprawled out on my spot on the couch, legs in the air, snoring away. It’s a hard life, apparently.)

Of course, the times when we ask the walker to come are not at all remotely the times when the walker actually comes. Honestly, it’s like negotiating with a cable installer. More often than not lately, the first visit comes while I’m still in the house. Still here!

And while I appreciate a bit of practice in interacting with someone early in the morning who can’t fire, divorce, disown or arrest me, it’s not so especially helpful to walk my dog when I remain physically present and able to walk her myself. It’s like having a pizza you ordered last week delivered today, while you’re eating takeout Chinese food. Pointless.

Now, I’ve discussed this with the walkers — sometimes dripping wet in a towel, just out of an interrupted shower.

(That’s me with the interrupted shower, of course — not the walkers. They’re almost always wearing pants. I assume that’s more soothing for the canines.)

They tell me — and I completely understand, I do — that their schedule each day is predicated on which particular neighborhood mutts need a potty break that morning. If Mrs. Dinkleton down the block calls in to say that her precious poodle Fluffers has a hangnail today and is too depressed for her usual constitutional, then everyone else moves up the list.

That makes perfect sense to me. If I had six stops, and suddenly I had five stops instead, I wouldn’t sit around on my thumbs for an hour. I’d get my ass up the street to drag the next piss-ridden ball of fur across town, the better to get back home a little earlier to drink myself stupid and wonder where the hell my life went wrong. Trust me. I get that.

Still. Now I have these quandaries every morning. I don’t need quandaries in the morning. I can barely stand upright without drooling before noon; Complication is not my friend.

And yet, I find myself — on days my shower progresses to completion, anyway — facing difficult questions before work. If I’m dressed and scrubbed and ready to roll, but the walker hasn’t come yet… what should I do? Walk the gimpy old dog, and risk that they’ll drag her carcass back out in ten minutes? Leave her snoozing and risk a flash-flood whiz? Hang out and wait for the walker to show? What if this is the day the Merkleson’s huskies finally break that urinary tract infection? I can’t take that chance, dammit!

So mostly I chat with dogwalkers, show up late to work and clean pee off my floor in the evenings. That’s pretty much my life these days. A slave to some elderly bitch’s bladder.

I think we all knew it would come to this eventually. It was only a matter of time. Anyway — happy weekend! Woof!

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