Message from the Publisher

MY PICTURE

Back in May I marked my one year anniversary as a dog walker. It’s been quite an adventure and learning experience, but satisfying and interesting. I could definitely write a book entitled, “Adventures in Dog Walking.”  Hey, somebody has to do it, and this job allows me to be my own boss and make my own schedule. The money is good and it has health benefits besides; and I don’t mean a health plan but a “healthy” plan like being out in the sun and getting exercise. This was actually the first winter I didn’t get bronchitis, despite me being in sub-zero temperatures most of the time. I attribute that to not being trapped in a sick office environment.  

In my first month, I lost 15 pounds and since last May, I’ve completed over 1400 walks. My average mileage per walk is usually around 1-1.5 miles; longer when I do an hour or more walk with a dog. So I could have walked to Canada, Florida, or Arizona for that matter. I’ve gone through three pairs of gym shoes; although I should have gone through more, but luckily, and I use that term loosely, I was able to alternate using boots in the winter; Can’t wear gym shoes in snow and ice. Winter is not my favorite time of year, so that’s why my only “luck” of wearing boots was saving me from buying another pair of expensive Brooks gym shoes. 

Dogs don’t ask for much. They want to be petted, walked, fed and played with and of course loved. Knock on wood, I haven’t been bitten. I’ve been scratched by dogs that have nails sharp as knives when they are so excited they can’t stop jumping on you, but never bitten. However, there were times I thought, “Oh no, this doesn’t look good.” You walk into a home where the owner tells you, “Don’t worry, he’s friendly” and the dog is growling, barking and looking like it’s ready to lunge. 

I once spent over a half hour trying to earn the trust of an 80 lb. pit bull. He had the fiercest bark and was very intimidating. When I talked to the owner, she informed me that he was a rescue and a big baby and assured me that he wouldn’t harm a fly. I got down to eye level with him and with a lot of sweet talk and treats, he finally came out of his cage and I was able to get a leash on him. After that we were best buds. We played ball for fifteen minutes after the walk where I found out squirrels actually scared him! 

I’ve chased dogs around the house, found dogs hiding under beds, been knocked over with excitable dogs, literally dragged down the street by huge dogs, and been practically licked to death too.  I’ve been peed on and picked up more poop than I care to mention, but enough to probably fertilize a small farm! I have one dog that will only poop against a wall or tree and I laughed so hard when it actually stuck to the wall. 

At times, it’s a challenge to get dogs to do their business. Some do it right away and others you want to pick up and squeeze it out of them. I want to high five a passerby when my difficult poopers finally get it out. I get some strange looks when I exclaim, “YES” when a dog successfully produces. 

I’ve walked big dogs, small dogs, puppies (which most of the time I carried on the walks), fat dogs, skinny dogs, stubborn dogs and one cat. Yes, I walked a cat. There are some dogs that I can’t get enough of and others that I hope to never see again; like the two Siberian Huskies I walked (or I should say, they walked me) that if they had a sled attached to them, they could have pulled me to Alaska! 

However, I do love all the different breeds of dogs that I’ve walked from American Staffordshires to Yorkies and they all have their own personalities. I walk an English bulldog named Peanut that walks about five feet, sits down and won’t move until I throw a treat in front of him. He’ll walk to it, eat it, and then sit down again. We go about a half a block in a thirty minute time frame.  

Then there’s Mr. Pig and Rabbit. Mr. Pig, a pug, is deaf and never hears me until I put a treat under his nose to wake him up. He pops up like a jack-in-the-box. And Rabbit is an older Chihuahua with cataracts that at first would not come near me, but now anxiously awaits my arrival at the door. 

dog walking Schiller Park ILAddison is one of my favorite regulars, a Brittney Spaniel, who has such a routine that you can’t deviate from at all. When I arrive to walk her she has to be let out into her backyard first and runs around in a specific pattern every time. When we had a lot of snow, I dug out a maze of trenches for her; she had such a good time running through them. No matter what my mood, she makes me smile every day. 

Then there’s Maggie, Hurley, Riley and Beezy, Bart, Barney, Isabel, Lola, Dog Joe, Zedd, Lizzy and Libby, Lucy, Wally, Bella, Ralph, Febe, Choclo, Tazer, Sprocket and Dakota, Nugget, Boss, Lolita, Rookie, Lucy, Roma, Chico and Kookies, Winnie, Ditka, Parker, Frankie and Chainsaw, Dougly, Brasco and Braedon, Abby and Arnold, Murphy, George, and I can’t forget my own dogs, Sweetie and Tips to name just a few of the hundreds of dogs I’ve walked; All of who are reasons why I love my job.

People may laugh at the fact that I went from being a mayor of a town to walking dogs. I am confident to say to those people that it’s a lot easier dealing with dog poop than the poop people hand out!  Dogs give unconditional love, ask no questions, and are always glad to see you. Humans aren’t always that accommodating.  

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there, and to those no longer with us say a prayer for them. 

GOD BLESS AMERICA! 

Barbara J. Piltaver, Publisher
People & Places Newspaper