Welcome to the first installment of Mike’s Walkers – Pup of the week! Our first honoree is named Willow. She’s a sweet, beautiful English Springer Spaniel, and we love her to pieces.
This photo was taken by her Chelsea dog walker Justine.
I’m not officially adding a service to our list, but I did transport long-time client Logan from the office in Manhattan to his groomer in Brooklyn yesterday. His human had asked if one of the walkers would be able to take him there in a care service, but I offered to do it myself. I have a car, it was fun, and I had the time…AND I couldn’t resist snapping a selfie! We’ve been taking care of this stately, bearded fellow for more than a decade now, and it was awesome to get to spend a little time with him yesterday. He’s such good company that I wasn’t even bothered by NYC traffic! BTW, I was not driving when I took this photo!! Hands-free all the way, folks.
The following interview was conducted on June 11th, 2013 in New York City while walking through Chelsea, a lovely downtown Manhattan neighborhood. Ernie is a beautiful, older lab/hound mix who has been enjoying daily walks and frequent overnight sits from Mike’s Walkers since 2005.
Mike Davis: So, Ern. We’ve known each other, you and I, for quite a while now. First, I’d like to tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time from your busy schedule to allow me to interview you. Though we are old friends, it’s still an honor. It might be a little odd for you. I will ask questions you know I already know the answers to. However, I want the readers of this blog to hear it straight from the dog’s mouth….your thoughts in your own words. So, without further ado – tell me a few things you like about living in Chelsea.
Ernie: A few things I like about living in Chelsea. Wow – where to begin? It’s a great neighborhood for humans, no doubt, but it’s also pretty sweet being a dog here. I have a lot of great friends here, and people in this neighborhood really love to say Hi to me. I’m sure the facts that I’m friendly and exceedingly attractive help, but it’s also a super dog-friendly part of the city. Additionally, there’s quite a lot for me here in Chelsea. Good solid vets, great groomers, nice boutiques, there’s a great dog park by Chelsea Piers.
MD: Have you ever lived in any other NYC hoods?
Ernie: No, but a lot of my friends lived in other areas before moving to Chelsea, and they are all very pleased here. I lived in DC when I was very young. In fact, I was rescued by my humans there, but I don’t really remember much about that. It was a long time ago, especially in dog years.
MD: Yes, especially in dog years. You mentioned great groomers, vets, boutiques and such. Do you have any recommendations for pups or dogs new to Chelsea?
Ernie: Absolutely I do. Let’s see. Well, the vet I go to is West Chelsea Veterinary. You know that because you’ve taken me for a few visits over the years. They’re really nice there. They have a huge, super cool facility, and the staff is outstanding. Plus, it’s right across the street from Chelsea Television Studios. Rachel Ray films there, and I think she’s a pretty sparkly human.
MD: Sure, I know what you mean (not sure I know what he means).
Ernie: As for groomers, there are several great ones. Downtown Doghouse (www.downtowndoghouse.com) is excellent. The owner Nancy and I go way back. Towne House Grooming is one I’ve gone to many times as well – (www.townehousegrooming.com). The folks there are super nice and great at what they do.
MD: And boutiques…which is your favorite?
Ernie: Oh, that’s easy. Paws down my favorite is The Barking Zoo (www.thebarkingzoo.com). Jordan there is a really nice fella, and they always have a bowl of water out front. I think they put it there just for me. Maybe not, but I do my best to empty it each day regardless.
MD: So, how about a little personal info? What are a few things you look forward to each day? Do you have any hobbies?
Ernie: Well, when I was younger, as you surely recall, I was a fetching fiend. I can certainly still do it, but back then no one was faster! I’ve also always had a deep interest in chasing lights on walls and reflections. A laser pointer just does it for me – what can I tell you?
Something I really look forward to each day is getting a treat from my building’s doorman Ron at the end of my mid-day walk. That guy is THE BEST! He’s always ready for me, and he always has “the good stuff.” Seriously….love that guy!
MD: Well, Ernie, thank you very much for your time and your candor. You’re good stuff, my friend. It was a pleasure.
Ernie: So are you, Mike. The pleasure was all mine.
So, this evening I’m going to write about a safety concern I have. It’s something I run across almost every single day that I’m out walking dogs. It’s dogs tied up outside of stores, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. It’s never a good idea, but as owners it is our choice to make. Apparently it is still legal in NYC as long as it is not for an extended period. However, the picture you see to the left is of three dogs tied up outside Rite Aid at the corner of 20th street and 8th Ave in Chelsea…by their walker. I saw him tether them and then go in. Since I had no dogs with me, I went in behind him to see whether he’d even be able to see them from where he was in the store. Sadly, he went deep into the aisles. He would have no way of knowing whether they were involved in a scuffle or stolen. I waited to see how long he would be. It was well over 10 minutes. I feel quite confident the owners of these dogs don’t mean to pay this walker to shop while their dogs are completely unattended. In fact, I have 2 dogs, and I hire someone completely independent from my service to walk them each day. If I saw my dogs tied up outside a store in this fashion, there is no explanation that would stop me from firing her immediately. Literally anything could happen. This is New York City, you know.
Some of you may remember seeing this flier around Chelsea and the surrounding hoods. I spoke to witnesses, and though the flier says otherwise, the dog was tied up outside while the owner was inside. That’s how this happens. It’s a tragedy, and it is very easily avoided. In fact there is only one thing you have to do…don’t let go of the leash. That’s it. I know we are busy people in a busy city. I know we think we have the best behaved dog in the world. Unfortunately, when we are not holding the leash, there is nothing we can do to keep our dog safe. When our back is turned, we cannot prevent a tragedy because we don’t know it’s happening. I am addressing this to dog owners (like myself). This should go entirely without saying for professional dog walkers (LIKE MYSELF), but I have seen it so many times.
I’ve seen walkers, as with the previous example, tie dogs up while going in to shop…we should shop on our own time. I’ve seen walkers who tie dogs up outside buildings while they go in to get another…if the building doesn’t allow non-resident dogs to enter, then we have to make some other arrangement. I’ve seen walkers tie dogs up while entering a coffee shop to get a coffee…this is obviously not OK.
So, what’s my point? My point is this: as owners we have a responsibility to our dogs. As walkers we have a responsibility to our clients and to their dogs. We can’t be so naive as to think ‘it won’t happen to me’, and we can’t be so lazy as to think ‘I know it could happen to me, but I’m really pressed for time/I’m really in the mood for a coffee now/I really need to buy some toothpaste now’. It’s not worth the risk.
Please don’t tie your dogs up outside in NYC. It just isn’t safe.
I have a group of dogs I walk every week day between 1 and 2pm. There are 5 of them, all around the same size, and they walk beautifully together. Honestly, I’m a pretty good dogwalker, but these guys make me look like the best. Perhaps I am…who’s to say? This group has been together for years now, and every time I’m out with them I get quite a lot of attention from passersby on the street. Tourists and locals alike take photographs of us literally every day. Some people ask whether it’s OK, some just shoot, and many try to be sneaky. I think I always notice because I really stay aware of my surroundings when I’m walking the pooches. Anyway, I have always wondered whether the photos come out well. Are there scrapbooks all over the country, perhaps the world, filled with photos from trips to New York with pictures of me and these same 5 dogs in them? I tend to think people return home from their trips, look through their photos, choose the best ones of themselves in front of all the iconic awesomeness NYC has to offer, and completely discard the ones of me and my furry friends. However, I’ve often wished I had a copy of every one of them. How cool would that be to see so many different perspectives on something considered by many to be a novelty worth photographing and by me to be Wednesday afternoon? So, today I made a decision. From now on, every time I see someone shoot me while I’m out with the Dream Team (a name given to this group by my former walker Charlotte) I will give my contact info to the photographer and ask them to send me a copy. Then I will post it to an album on my FaceBook page dedicated to these photos. Sure enough, it happened. I was photographed today at the corner of 23rd street and 10th avenue. I asked and the photographer delivered. That’s the photo you see attached above, and I think it’s pretty good! My thanks to John-Francis Bourke. Please follow my progress with this little project at http://www.facebook.com/MikesWalkers in the photo album called “Mike and the DREAM TEAM”. I hope you enjoy it!!