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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's raining cats and dogs

Well I thought for this blog I would share with you some photos of some of my animal clients. they are all lovely and each have their own personality and mannerisms (just like humans). The job is really going well and it is doing everything I wanted it to. I am getting out walking in all weather - yes even when it is raining cats and dogs.

These photos are my regulars and I have been visiting them all for the last couple of months. I am glad they have kept me on the same area consistently as it lets me build up a friendship and trust with each of the pets and this makes my life easier as they respond more to commands after a few visits. It also helps in that I no longer need to use my GPS to get to the houses and can drive without any aid, this along with not having to read the information sheet for each visit takes about 5 minutes off the time I need each visit which adds up over the day.

My first one is Plato.

His breed is Standard poodle and he comes up to my waist.

He is completely mad and relies on his looks to get by rather than his intelligence, I guess he is the doggy equivalent of a bimbo. He is quite highly strung and loves chasing after trucks that drive by and chasing stones if you kick them on the pavement. He lives with a Jewish family of Julia and Matt with 3 year old daughter Hannah. Hannah is looked after by her Russian grandmother who I talk to every time I go into pick up Plato. she is a mine of local information and just fun to chat with.
Plato comes running as soon as he hears my key in the back door and loves to stand with his head bowed in front of me letting me pat his head and play with his floppy ears.
In these photos he is a bit shaggy as he needs to be clipped. It was so funny when he was just clipped as he looked really gaunt and like a completely different dog.

These two beauties are Tango and Romeo the cats. They are not my regulars and only get looked after when their owners - The Horwitzs - are on holiday. They remind me of Trudie, Jethro and Dexter when I visit them. They both come running when I go in the house and their favourite game is to lick your hands and arms clean with their rough little tongues. Very loving cats and always look like they could get up to a lot of mischief.

This tiny wee thing is Ellie. She is a Chihauhau/Rat terrier mix. She was an abused dog who was rescued by her owner. It is heartbreaking to think of someone mistreating her as she is such a loving little thing once she gets to know you. Because of the abuse she does not like people very much until she trusts them and it was sad at first to see her so scared of me as if I was going to hurt her. She actually bit me the first time I went in and tried to get her collar and leash on but she was just so terrified - it wasn't an aggresive thing but just self defense. Now when I go in she comes running and jumps up onto my leg and then runs to the door to get her collar and lead on.
She loves her walk as she has so much excess energy and I almost have to run to keep up with her which is so funny as she has tiny little legs. I look forward to this walk as it is usually my first of the day and it is a good fast walk for half an hour.

This funny little face is Buffy the pug. She is very loved by her owner and is left at home during the day with her own blanket on the couch and the tv left on showing all the soap operas and Project Runway on. When I go she jumps of the couch and goes and chooses a toy from her toy box to bring to me. Her favourite toy is the frog in the second photgraph, so cute.
Buffy hates the rain and when you take her outside in it she won't move and gives you a look as if to say "WTF you dragged me away from my warm couch out into this" as she has a very expressive face.
I have found myself tucking her under my arm with her wee Burberry coat on and carrying her away from the house a couple of blocks so she has to walk home when it is raining.
Did you know that pugs have very sensitive throats so you should never walk them with a collar and leash and shoudl always use a harness so that you are not tugging on their necks!

These next two ladies are Ubu and Maggie Moo. Two large black labradors. I have them for an hour most days and they are a right handful to walk together. I try and walk them together and they love being with each other but some days I have to take them out individually when I am to tired to handle them both. Maggie is fatter, older and a bit slower and is very well behaved, if a little excitable. She loves to meet new people but will sit in front of them and get patted.
Ubu on the other hand is still a puppy in labrador terms and is very strong and pulls a lot. When she spots a squirrel or another dog I have been known to almost fly off my feet if I am not ready for her drag.
They are both very loved as they belong to a couple who are having trouble with fertility. Lara is an art teacher and has been struggling with fertility issues and mental health issues and the dogs are her babies. I have met Lara a couple of times and she seems really lovely if a little sad. The karma of the house is a bit sad overall.
I certainly get a good workout when I walk these dogs as it is an hour of being dragged at quite a good speed.

This old dear is one of my favourites. She is Sheba and is a twelve year old Black Lab. She was also an abused dog who was rescued when the son was 21 years old. She walks really slowly and plods along like a big brown bear.
Her owner is unsually in when I pick her up and she is very complimentary of me and says she only keeps the company on because Sheba adores me so much.
I usually walk her mid way through my day and it a nice respite and restorative walk after my other more energetic clients.

This intelligent chap is Rufus. He is a Nova Scotia Duck Retriever. He also looks forward to his walk and has a real intelligence behind his eyes when you look directly into them. His family is lovely, Lynn and Rich and their two wee daughters Esther and Maia. He is a very loved dog and is so loving and well behaved. I got a Christmas present of a lovely hardback book full of doggy photos from him.

This puppy is Rosie. She is a yellow labrador. While she is a lovely little thing I don't enjoy walking her so much as she doesn;t really walk but just sniffs about. We don't usually cover much ground and she can be very stubborn and I spend half my time trying to drag her home.
The plus side to this dog is that she lives close to a woods. Most of my walking is on suburban streets so it is nice for once to get into some trees and off the streets. A family of deer live in the woods and we quite often come across them. Luckily Rosie is not bothered with them so we get very close to them without Rosie trying to chase them away. the worst part of this walk is that Rosie like to try and eat the deer poo, so I have to be quite vigilant when she is sniffing around so that she doesn't.

Well that's all the ones I managed to get photos off and most of my regulars anyway. I have just signed up two more houses on my normal route.
Ziggy is a mad, vegetarian, holistic dog. Not sure what that entails but she is crazy and poos a lot of sweetcorn!
Calvin and Meli and 2 sweet puppies, one black and one yellow lab. They are so young and frolic about with each other. I take them out together for now but will need to separate them when they get bigger and stronger.
Well I love my job still even when it has been mad for the last week with a lot of people being away for the holidays and having lots of extra houses and pets to visit. The other day I was walking for 6 hours in the day with different dogs. Completely knackered at times but very happy with it (and with the extra money!).
Hope you enjoy the photos and my brief descriptions of each of my clients. Take care. Xx

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fall has landed

It is beautiful here with all the leaves falling of the trees and seeing the vast array of colours. What is strange is the ever changing weather. Some days it feels like winter while other days it is 70 degrees and I am out walking with shorts and t shirts. I never know what clothes I am going to wear from one day to the next as it can change in the blink of an eye. The one good thing is that the weather forecast usually gets the prediction right for each day and then that day stays constant – unlike in Scotland where you get caught in a snow drift in the afternoon after leaving the house in a summer dress because the sun was out in the morning. The one piece of advice that has been useful is layering – I always wear several layers so that I can adjust my outfit throughout the day with the weather.

Well the dog walking is going really well and I can already see a change in my fitness and body shape from it. My metabolism has got faster again and I am constantly eating to keep my energy levels up but not putting on any weight as I am walking so much. I am also please that I am still going to my yoga and pilates class each morning and I am now really seeing the results in the change in shape of my body. Jar noticed that my butt had tightened the other day and described it as a “nice pilates bum” and that has always been my problem area.

The job has been doing everything I hoped it would as I am getting so much fresh air each day and I am out even when it is pouring down and I would otherwise not be venturing out in it. I have just taken Elaine (Dingsy) advice on buying myself a very decent pair of waterproof walking boots. I had a pair of good hiking boots but they have never been right on me and always ripped my feet to shreds so we went out over the weekend and bought a new pair which I thoroughly tested in the shop but I guess only time will tell if they work well. I certainly need them as my trainers were not waterproof and I couldn’t really do all the walking and driving in wellington boots. While I was at the sports shop getting them I also bought myself a wee cheap pedometer as I am curious to see what distance I am covering each day – no reason other than sheer curiosity. I will start using it tomorrow so will let you know.

The dogs are just so loving and are genuinely bonding with me. I have been doing the same basic route for the last 3 weeks so have the same core clients each day, with extras added on every other day. It is so lovely when the run to me and bounce around very excited. I will try and get some pictures over the next few weeks and write a blog about my clients. So many different dog types and mixes that I have never come across.

What else have we been up to?

Well we experienced out first American Halloween. They really go in for it in a big way. In the suburbs where I do my walking, every other house had Halloween decorations outside – lots of spiders webs complete with giant spiders and grave yards in gardens complete with grave stones and skeletons climbing out of the ground. Lots of pumpkin carvings as well. We decided not to bother with any pumpkins or decorations as we knew that we were going out for Halloween and would not be having any visitors or trick or treaters. On Halloween night we met up with Kim and Andrew in Georgetown for an early dinner. The restaurant was, aptly, named The Tombs and all the staff were dressed up. My favourite was the barman dressed as an Oompah Loompah. I went as Galadriel (the queen of the elves) from Lord of the rings and Jarlath went as William Wallace from Braveheart. Jars costume was outstanding and certainly got him lots of attention on the Metro as we were coming home later on – if one more person shouts Freeeeedom I would have probably screamed. After dinner we headed up to the Dupont Circle area and went into a bar called Lucky bar as it looked like fun. It certainly was fun as again everyone in the place was dressed up in some way. It was amazing to see almost everyone out that night had made an effort to dress up in some way. I got overexcited to see some of the muppets from Sesame street and almost passed out when I found a Hobbit to go with my costume. Well we ended up going in for the costume competition and Jarlath came a healthy second place to win a $50 voucher for the place. We will go back and have some dinner and drinks soon as it is a nice place. He was beaten by Oscar the Grouch which was a superb costume although it is available to buy as a completed costume on the internet whereas Jarlath’s was homemade from items we had in the house so I felt he deserved his prize just for that! Anyway it was lots of fun. Jarlath and I went to get the metro home just after midnight which was quite a surreal experience as we were surrounded by some strange people – although I am sure we looked just as strange to them. I ended up sitting beside Jesus Christ complete with Crown of thorns and had quite an interesting conversation with him on our way back to Bethesda. When we reached Bethesda we decided to drop into our local Irish pub for a last night cap. Luckily it was still open and some of our friends were still there so we had some fun for another hour before eventually giving it up for the night and getting a taxi home for 2.00a.m All in all a fun night. Here are the photos:


And here are the photos of the pumpkin patch we visited even although we didn’t buy any:


I have been quite remiss in visiting any museums or places of interest lately so decided to go into downtown DC and visit a museum. I wasn’t in the mood for anything of high intellect so we chose to visit the Crime and Punishment museum. It was quite interesting and had the usual sections of medieval torture instruments (which I love) along with more modern serial killers from America. They had a CSI crime lab which was fairly interesting and would be more so if you watched the program, I am sure. It was an interesting day out if a little overpriced – it was a privately owned museum and not part of the Smithsonian. It is also still quite exciting to just wander around down town DC as it is still new to us.

Even more photos:


We also decided to take advantage of the good weather last Sunday by going out a long walk. Vicky had given us a book called 50 hikes within 50 miles as a house warming gift and we have been trying to use it every so often. We chose a walk in Rock Creek park. This park was established in 1890 and covers 2100 acres in the heart of DC. When Sarah (Sazzymch) was passing through on her way to Texas we had tried to find the park to go a walk but only succeeded in finding a small wooded area full of garbage and condoms. Well I am not sure how we couldn’t find this park as it is so big and has lots of sports facilities, planetarium and lots of trails. Jarlath and I found a 9 mile walk in the Northern wooded area and had a lovely afternoon out as the sun was shining through the trees. We also visited the nature centre where I got to handle lots of pelts from real animals, which was a bit gross, but interesting.

Some photos:


This Sunday was another lovely day so we again decided to have a day out somewhere different so decided on driving to Annapolis to see the Naval academy and harbor. You forget how close some places actually are and realized this was only a 45 minute drive out towards Chesapeake bay area. The temperature was at 70 degrees again so the drive was lovely and when we arrived we parked up and went a walk up the main street to look at all the quaint little shops and then around the harbour. We then decided to take a 40 minute boat trip around the bay with a tour guide giving us some history on the Naval academy and local area. It didn’t really tell us very much but the boat ride was quite pleasant and for once I didn’t feel queasy or sea sick. After our boat trip we decided against the tour of the naval academy as we wouldn’t have time to do it properly so we found a lovely restaurant and sat out on the deck overlooking the harbour for some lunch. It was a nice trip out for a lovely Sunday afternoon. All a bit middle aged but I guess we are getting that way now!

Some more photos:


Well spending this week having the book group at my house and getting reading for our week long Thanksgiving trip to Toronto in Canada and Rochester, NY. So, I should have a bit more to write about for my next blog.

Hope I haven’t bored you too much and that people are actually still reading!!?

Happy Christmas and Thanksgiving planning everyone.

H Xx

Ps Hugs to Trudie (notblondereally) and a fast recovery from her post op infection and to Elaine well just because!