On the morning news today was an intriguing local headline. Seems a trial was recently just concluded concerning a dog walker arrested while in the midst of his vocation.
The man apparently had been caught littering around the well-heeled Loudoun County suburban haven of Sugarland Run while committing various nefarious crimes.
The poor pooches, trusted under his charge, were merely innocent victims as they sniffed around and did their business.
And what do you think this despicable man had to say for himself when his court date arrived?”
“Your honor, I regret nothing of my actions because I have come to believe that what I did will turn my life around.”
The jury, and those in the audience lucky enough to find a seat, let out a collective audible gasp–as the vast majority were very devoted dog owners who, from time to time in their busy schedule, also found the need to pay professional dog walkers to walk their dear pets.
So let’s go back in time and retrace this scofflaw in question’s past.
It was 3 years ago this past April. Back then our perpetrator was fresher faced and full of ambition.
Which is why he decided to head his friend’s advice at work and take advantage of a growing market: the professional dog walking field.
It was a shoe in!
What with so many 2 income families out and about shuttling each other back and forth and commuting, the potential was tantalizing.
So he did. And after 5 months he had accrued 17 canine clients in Sugarland alone.
You do the math. 17 dogs at 40 dollars an hour for 8 days a week.
The money rolled in.
And he excelled. His legs walked with alacrity and he was a good dog whisperer too. Always keeping a calm posture and always keeping the dog at an even pace.
In fact when neighbors would see him stride by many would remark that he was so rigidly alert and serious in his demeanor that it looked like he was walking through a mine field and refused to be blown up.
It was a testimony to how somberly the man took his PROFESSIONAL DOG WALKING OATH OF NOT FRATERNIZING with the public while working.
In fact the man even took to wearing a BRIGHT YELLOW vest that stated “PROFESSIONAL DOG WALKER, PLEASE DO NOT ENGAGE OR PET.”
Because of this, he became notoriously infamous around Sugarland Run for NOT greeting other pedestrians or even acknowledging them.
He was amongst them but decidedly apart.
After all, he was on the clock and had a job to perform.
And he performed it well.
Oh sure there were some glitches but nothing worth being arrested for.
For starters he got a bit greedy.
He expanded his operations so much that it got him into the habit of BULK hiking with packs of up to 10 doggie clients at one time. The earnings tripled but he ended up tangling the leashes so bad on one disastrous walk that Mrs. Johnson’s prized Tibetan Mastiff Clooey wandered off and was not seen again (until a very long time had passed as you will see).
And as the months turned into years, resentment started to creep in. Despite the good money.
Because the man was jealous of all the travel experiences that all of his clients were taking while he walked their dogs.
And while the pet owners thought they were just being friendly, they were actually rubbing it in more each time as they would glowingly tell him of their exciting trips to Paris or Australia or some other far flung place, with all the amenities that a packaged tour provides.
It simmered in him and took seed.
Because the man had NEVER barely stepped foot outside of Virginia. And he was always tied down with other people’s dogs.
And so began his life of crime.
Firstly he became very lax and unprofessional when it came to picking up Number 2 deposits from his many clients—all of whom had very different constitutional habits.
He rationalized it by cursing the neighborhood planners for allowing the POOP stations to be far too SPACED apart from each other. Especially at the corner of Elm street and Vine and the 2 mile distance to Delaney Street.
By the end of that hike, his hand was sweaty holding the filled black plastic baggies. And when the wind blew towards him the smell was unbearable. Horrifically, he would also actually flip the contents from inside the held doggie bags on to his person when reaching to answer his cell phone to take calls from other client’s owners.
So he took to faking poop pick-ups, i.e. crouching down but not actually scooping, and, worst of all, at various intervals the poor depraved man began dropping filled plastic baggies along the lawns and gutters as he passed.
This got him several misdemeanor arrests for willful poop baggy littering for which he paid a hefty amount in court.
But this wasn’t bad enough to stop his slow descent down to criminality. Because he had acquired the depraved habit of purloining travel catalogs off of the coffee tables of the owner’s houses. He also took many of their photo books (many of which they had shown him) in a strange emotional mix of envy and contempt.
Fueled by disdain for all the colorful travel plans embarked on by all his doggie client owners while he stayed home and picked up poop; the man escalated to stealing souvenirs and wall hangings from previous vacation trips and loading them in his car before taking the pooches out for hikes.
As you can imagine, it didn’t long to have fingers pointed his way. Especially when the police arrived at his apartment with 3 client’s owners, and saw the mish mash of Mrs. Norman’s trip to Spain, the Yardley’s crumbled statues taken directly from the Mexican ruins of Machu Picchu, and all the Viking Rhine River cruise wall hangings from the Gunther’s honeymoon last fall.
So he was arrested.
And this story would now seem to be irrevocably bleak and all over.
But not so fast. Because when the disgraced dog owner returned from his prison sentence some years later, he saw things differently.
All that time spent away had given him humility and a new lease on life. He missed dog walking now not as a money maker but as a way of life. He missed the sights and sounds of his dog hikes.
And with a new set of eyes, he now cherished the parks and endless trails around his town and neighborhood.
And as fate would have it, during the first month of his return back to his apartment, he heard a whining outside of his window.
The man couldn’t believe it. Outside, a few pounds lighter and many whiskers greyer, wasMrs. Johnson’s prized Tibetan Mastiff Clooey!
What was lost was now found! Clooey must have remembered his scent and looked up his address.
And, due to the unfortunate passing of her owner Mrs. Johnson, while the man had been in prison, the circle was complete. He adopted Clooey who had clearly missed him more than he knew and unofficially named her Sylvia.
Our former criminal had become a reformed dog owner and hiker.
Instead of professional dog walking, he was doing SPIRITUAL dog walking as a better pathway to God.
No longer did he feel cheated or slighted. In fact he began taking photos of all the local dog hikes with Sylvia in the place of all those stolen mementos of other people’s trips. And Sylvia felt PRIZED just being WITH the man, regardless of her special pedigree and breeding.
The world around Sugarland Run began to sparkle and hum as dog and man became companions and not just client and entrepreneur. And everyone greeted each other heartily and exchanged jokes.
And now dear reader, you got what you wanted, a happy ending that kept on spawning endless new beginnings!