Doggy Blog

April May Juniper July

This may alarm some readers, but I am no huge fan of gin. Something about the Christmas tree taste turns me off—although pine is one of my favorite scents, I've never had the desire to grab a cone and start noshing (or quaffing for that matter). After some cursory research, I found that the juniper berry is not actually berry but actually the female seed cone of the juniper tree. Essentially it is a very small, tightly wound pinecone. So you're drinking pinecone tea when you enjoy a gin martini. Congratulations.

Juniper in repose.

Juniper in repose.

So with that educational tirade out of the way, I can now officially say that Juniper the dog is the ONLY juniper that I do currently enjoy. In fact, she's a bit of a tightly wound pinecone herself. Juniper is an Australian shepherd/collie mix of some sort as far as I can tell, with a lil bobbed tail and a penchant for good, long, ACTIVE walkin'. I have just recently began walking her, and it's already quite the lovefest. She's always super psyched to see me wander into her dojo and is super eager to get her leash on and JUST GET ON WITH THE OUTSIDE TIMES OKAY SEAN? Sometimes when she's really very quite too much excited, she can piddle a teeny bit on the floor—but honestly, who among us isn't guilty of that from time to time? On the rare occasions when that does happen it's always barely a thimble full, so it takes roughly one paper towel to clean up and then we're out and about.

The picture above (above and to the right? I'm never sure how this website renders on peoples' various devices) is what happens when we cease our stroll for really any reason at all. First we stop moving, then Juniper sits, then she twists her jaunty lil frame up like a damn pretzel to get some good scratchin' (read: lightly kicking herself in the head and neck) in. It's very reliable and very cute to watch. I always pitch in with some head scratches when this happens. Although, when walkin' a spark plug like Juniper, it's best to keep moving.

Juniper casting her investigatory eye at me, complete with creepy smile.

Juniper casting her investigatory eye at me, complete with creepy smile.

Juniper takes time on our strolls to investigate every squirrel, construction worker, puddle, pigeon, or presumed morsel of food that enters her range of vision. If you give her too much lead on the leash, she will saunter up to all these distractions and either pounce at (squirrel, pigeon, morsel of food) or jump onto (construction worker, puddle). She's never gotten close to actually getting a squirrel, pigeon, or morsel of food, but she gives it the ol' college try. She has popped up on the legs of a construction worker a few times, but luckily she's so damn cute that no one ever minds. The puddles I'd rather not speak of, given the proclivity of Chicago's skies to open up and curse me with sheets of water whenever I speak ill of them.

Also, related to Juniper's investigatory spirit, if YOU ever have the opportunity to walk her—which is admittedly probably close to a 0% chance unless of course you are her owner reading this—you should definitely try this (in convenient bullet form!):

  • Stop in your tracks
  • Say "Hey! Hey Juniper!" to Juniper
  • Wait as she cranes her neck and beams at you
  • Wait more as she gathers the energy to spring up at you like a portly kid with Moon Shoes
  • Brace for impact
  • Enjoy as Juniper maniacally hugs and attempts to lick you as long as you deem necessary
  • Return to your regularly scheduled walk
  • Repeat

The three photos above represent the evolution of the bulleted list from above. I was unable to take a picture of her hugging and jumping and licking because my phone was nearly knocked from my hand shortly after the third photo in the series. As I said before, Juniper is a relatively new walk so this jumpy lil relationship should only get better from here on out. Expect a check in with her in the near future, I can't wait to see how she enjoys the actual summer weather in Chicago. I imagine it will be ADORABLE.

Three cheers for Juniper's energetic friendliness!



Dogwalking 101: A Day In The Life

For today's post I figured I'd walk everyone through what a normal day in the life of a Home Treat Home dogwalker. In bulleted list form. With some pictures that may or may not have anything to do with said list. Ya know, in case my prose doesn't keep your attention.

  • Wake up. Get out of bed. Drag a comb across my head.
  • Make coffee. I don't want to sound like a Cathy cartoon, but you DON'T WANT TO SEE ME WITHOUT SOME COFFEE IN ME LOL ACK ACK ACK.
  • Prepare backpack. This usually includes my bike lock, an extra sweater if it's cold (which it ALWAYS IS), an umbrella in case it rains (which it ALWAYS DOES), my keys, some notecards, and of course some Poop Bags™.
  • Grab bicycle. I typically bike every day—I look at it as one of the perks of the job actually. Unless it's absolutely pouring (refer to second bullet for frequency of rain in Chicago recently), in which case it's foolish to ride unless you have completely laminated your body to waterproof it. At this point, I typically check my tire pressure, chain, brakes, medial fringulator, and all that bike stuff. Today I actually had a flat, so I had to waste precious minutes that could have been spent hanging out with dogs changing a lame ol' bike tire.
Cooper looking pretty god damn happy.

Cooper looking pretty god damn happy.

  • Bike to first dog's residence. Yes, I always refer to it as the dog's residence because from my perspective every dog is a bachelor or bachelorette living in their own pad, on their own, doing their thing, maybe sometimes with a canine roommate sometimes not. Also it's funnier. Today my first dog was Nola, a grand ol' dame of a black lab. I can't recall if I've written a bio about Nola yet, but I definitely need to. She KNOWS things. I'll typically get the rest of my route sorted on that first walk.
  • Leave a nice note/text owner. A hallmark of Home Treat Home's business is communication. If you're one of our clients, you already know the pastel notecards that we leave behind (or, as is true in some cases, the pastel text message that arrives on your phone after walks). If you're not a client, you should look into it. The notecards are fetching (LOLOLOL).
  • Bike to rest of dog's residences. Bet you didn't see THAT step coming! Most of my clients live in the same general area, so my route is pretty easy to plan. It's nice being able to take in a swath of the city, especially on vibrantly sunny days like this. Another perk of the job is that whilst on this journey, I meet a wide variety of mailpersons, other dogwalkers, shop owners, kids that want to pet the dogs, and of course your garden variety crazy folks that scare the dogs with their slightly tilted personality and often loud approach.
  • Lunch? Sometimes I will stop at a local eatery and grab some potables. Sometimes I eat a big enough breakfast and drink enough coffee to get me through the day. You can really slim down doing this job, what with the walking and the biking and the not eating. Another perk! Although when the dog biscuits start to smell appetizing, it's usually time to calorie up.
  • Finish day/run errands. When I've walked my last dog, I usually run a few errands since I'm already out and about. I've found that dealing with even the most menial crap of 21st century life (going to the cell phone store, the bank, grocery shopping, returning library books) is delightful when you've been imbued with the naive joy of the dogs you've walked all day. Yet another perk!
  • Bike home/write Doggy Blog posts. After I'm all done walkin' dogs, I head home full of ideas for these very posts you read. When I worked at a desk, I would often feel a sort of malaise deep in my bones at the end of the day—a gray, deadening sort of deep soul thrombosis. No real inspiration to do much after 5. Now, with the near constant exercise and the novel experiences that fill my day, I am delighted to park myself in front of my laptop and tap out these flights of fancy. WOWOWOWOW ANOTHER PERK!
Juniper, illustrating a elasticity of spine that would make all of Cirque du Soleil blush.

Juniper, illustrating a elasticity of spine that would make all of Cirque du Soleil blush.

Some notes that don't really fit in the bulleted list:

  • Headphones are a necessity. I listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks throughout the whole day. It's a great way to pass the time, but if you're pursuing this line of work definitely only listen with one headphone in so you can keep plugged into reality and the dogs. This is a good tip for any public headphone listening to be honest. You don't have to completely tune out the world to listen to some cool shit when you're walking around.
  • Water bottle! Gotta stay hydrated, y'all. The job—obviously—includes a lot of walking (often more than 8 miles a day or ~18,000 steps according to my probably not very accurate iPhone) and you're losing a lot of water. Even if it's cold.
  • Sunglasses. A must when it's sunny. A shamanic talisman summoning the sun when it's cloudy.
  • A good book. You should just always have a good book with you. Whenever you don't bring one, you end up needing one. Trust me.

Enough rambling for today! Enjoy your weekend!