My job involves a lot of trust; I am given keys and alarm codes to my client’s houses. Not only am I trusted with their beloved canine but also to keep their house secure. Over the years there have been to the occasional blips which jump start my heart rate in seconds.
Yesterday was one of those moments. I was delighted to walk a sweet young black lab for a new client and practically skipped to her apartment to pick up a new canine friend. I entered the first door by punching in a code and then headed up one flight of stairs to pick up my new charge, Gemma. I put the key in the lock and said hello to Gemma, who was on the other side of the door eager to greet me.
I twisted the key a couple of times and was horrified to see it snap off into two pieces. The round part of the key remained in my hand while the longer part remained in the lock.
A feeling of dread overcame me from my head down to my feet. It was an awful moment standing there feeling helpless and realizing that I was on my own. Gemma needed a walk but I could not get her out. This was only her first day with me!
A young woman in the building magically appeared and kindly listened to me ramble and helped me figure out a solution. She gave me the building superintendent’s name and phone number before heading on her way.
I made two phone calls to the super minutes apart as my heart raced full speed ahead. Minutes later he called back and once again I relayed my misfortune and begged for help. He basically said that he could not let me in without the dog owner’s permission. I agreed on principle while secretly hoping that he was a closet dog lover and would see my side of things.
I promised that I would have my client call him as soon as possible. She was at work, and it might take a bit of time for her to get back to him. My heart leapt when he said that he could release the dog into my custody and I found myself singing his praises over both on the phone and in person.
The whole situation reminded me of the epidural I had while delivering of my second daughter, Hannah – full panic and a loss of control with labour pains initially, and then a serene feeling when the drugs kicked in! I clearly remember telling the doctor how appreciative I was and how wonderful he was over and over.
I told the super that I would keep Gemma all day to prevent bothering him again and to get to know the dog better. I could easily pull the remaining piece out of the key hole in one precise move – thank goodness! I would return Gemma to her home at day’s end.
A second key has recently been made; however, it will take a few more visits to walk Gemma until my fear of the lock will subside!
In addition to faulty locks and/or keys, alarm codes also can keep dog walkers on their toes. I have been prevented from getting into houses when battery operated key pads are dead. I always know when this happens. I punch in the familiar number and the key pad makes a tired sound as it struggles to open the bolt fully. The worst part is the family dog on the other side of the door barking to let me “know” that they are there and to hurry up and open the door as per usual.
In the past I walked a dog in a home where the alarm system was unpredictable on a regular basis. I would punch in the code and correctly follow the steps but the screaming alarm would still go off – almost giving me a coronary every time!
If you have not experienced hearing an alarm go off in a house that is not yours I can tell you that it is dreadful. Full panic sets in, barely allowing someone – even if they are meant to be there – think clearly.
I remember one client who would leave for the cottage on occasion and forget to tell me that their dog was headed north too. Calling the dog walker slipped their mind in the flurry of heading out the door. During one of these two occasions the phone rang and I knew right away it was the alarm company. My answers required an Oscar-winning performance to persuade them that I was actually their dog walker and not a robber.
Another time I was asked by a client to go to their house and see if I could locate a missing hamster that was on the loose that they could not find before going on vacation. My husband sweetly offered to help find the critter and we were blasted by the alarm going off upon entering as the code had been changed. The scare we received is still a memory today that often gives us a good giggle.
At least a half dozen times a year I get calls from dog owners saying that they have locked themselves out of their homes. One of the perks of having a dog walker is that I have an extra key in my care, which can often resolve a frustrating issue.
I have received calls from families asking me to check if they left an iron plugged in or a computer left turned on when they have left their home for a long period of time.
The best example of a dog walker with keys to the rescue occurred a year ago. I received a panicky phone call from a friend whose dog I walked. She had taken her daughter for a music audition at a university hours away. A piece of music was left behind in the young woman’s bedroom and was needed for a prearranged audition time. I raced to their house and found the music; I took it somewhere close by to scan and send it. It was really down to the wire!
I think this proves that dog walkers are creative thinkers, fearless and willing to help both the two and four-legged any way that they can!
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