Years ago I walked dogs and took care of dogs for neighbors. I still do for a very few nearby friends, for free. These had two dogs and salt-water fish in a 60-gallon tank that were the husband’s pride and joy.
I went to walk the dogs and feed the fish and was caught up by SWAT Teams outside who made me hunker down under a blanket behind barricades for six hours. I was a consultant and was making $10 for this visit which was a gift to these neighbors because I had to come home between meetings to take out my own dog nearby. My friend said I had to charge them something.
As I was standing in the police line, they said there was a hostage situation two doors down, and a gun involved. After six hours of me being a witness the hostage was let go and the perpetrator killed himself. In the meantime SWAT had placed tear gas in all the townhomes. I stood in line to ask about the dogs and fish. SWAT broke through the living room window and said they placed the dogs in the garage so they’d be OK. I asked about the fish and they assured me that tear gas doesn’t penetrate an aquarium. What about when they come up for air? Can’t answer that, ma’am.
I called the homeowners several times on their cell, no answer. Finally I got them and the wife had no concern for the dogs, husband got on the phone frantic for his fish. Strange folks, indeed. I told them anyone could get in and steal their stuff as their living room window was smashed in order to allow in troops with machine guns. No response. They didn’t even want to come home. No way I was going to stay overnight upstairs in a space that was invaded by anyone or anything, or that could be, including tear gas and now, looters or even in their garage or sadly, bring them home with my dog.
Fed the fishies, they seemed OK. SWAT let me in after my waiting a couple more hours for them to check the premises and said these supposedly aggressive dogs were the biggest weenies they’d ever met. I took them out through the garage, fed them and moved new water for them washed in the kitchen and filled outdoors, to the garage where they would stay overnight and fed them, of course, and the fish.
Leaving the dogs in the garage overnight because of toxic fumes, there was no way I was lifting a 60 gallon tank of fish. SWAT boarded up the living room window and nearly nine hours after the hostage situation I was back home to take care of my dog and two cats only to leave home a few hours later getting back to the fish and dogs. Another $10? No. Not yet. No hostage-takers for morning walk and feeding but full police presence and questioning me being on site. Another few hours later I talked to the property owners again asking about when they planned to return and assure the safety of their property and animals.
When they arrived they acted as if the hostage and police action was all my fault because I was walking towards their home ten feet from the door and a SWAT officer bundled me up and took me away and never let me leave. And after 12 hours of my work, the couple, upon their arrival home, grudgingly gave me another $10 dollars for my time and extraordinary efforts on their behalf and that of their two dogs and precious fish. I was a consultant and was doing this as a favor for a friend. Let’s see, I don’t remember the friend or couple or dogs or fish names anymore, nor the name of the officers who grilled me on who might be around there to take hostages. I know I made a lot more as a consultant than $20 for all that time on behalf of their pets and home security.
That’s a good thing. It is also good that people who walk dogs and are doing just a favor for a friend should know what she/he is dealing with. The shooter was wacko, and I’d only visited the neighbors once beforehand to assess dogs and fish for a brief visit. Turns out they were wacko, too. They were so concerned about themselves and their furnishings and status they forgot what matters, each other and family, even if it’s fish. I just hope they didn’t have kids.
I never spoke with those folks again, they never even thanked me or paid me more than $10. They just saw it as a problem I caused because I happened to be on the sidewalk nearing their door and there was a gunman two doors away with a hostage, ready to shoot anything that moved and I was hauled off by police and forced to hang out there for nine hours. I told them and the cops that I had responsibilities as well, at my home and at work, and they said they might need me for questioning. Go figure.
From fish and dogs they didn’t care about, these usurpers took my life, work and family and held me hostage so I could not take care of my meetings and other responsibilities. There was no night’s sleep even at my home. It was a crime site so I could not see the dogs or fish until morning and I worried for them and their place being broken into by other nasty elements of society and sprayed with tear gas. I was Mary Poppins for those dogs. They were my charges for an entire weekend and I was graced $20 for the privilege of being detained by law enforcement for 12 hours. I heard they got rid of the dogs shortly thereafter. They kept the fish.
A paid vacation with paid pet care for my guys would have been appropriate. I’d say a small boat in Greece for a week, with staff. $20, no apology for not coming home and leaving me in charge for 48 hours instead of two pet walks and fish feedings, and no thanks at all, if you treat your peers this way you must be way down on the food chain by now. Just know I would never let you walk my dog.
My husband and I ended up living three doors down, a few years later. They were gone, thank goodness and the younger son of the couple across the street who called in the incident was in the hostage home, young, happy and healthy. Life and death and wasted time. We looked at that place but there was no way I could ever live there. Dolly lived next door to the death place, she was a pit bull. I’d go out on the stoop to put on my shoes, her owners would open the front door and she’d run to see me. Hugs and licks, Dolly was a sweet gal. They don’t call me the dog lady for nothing! Dee
ps Goodbye of course to dear neighborhood dog Gigi, The Captain, and now “the Admiral,” he used to call his dear wife who will be interred with him at Annapolis where they met and married. I met them through Gigi, The Captain married us and “the Admiral” has now moved on.
pps We lived in a great neighborhood.