Saturday, May 1, 2010

Challenges (and Rewards!)

For a couple of decades, I have mostly averted harm, with a few exceptions. There was the night that I was briskly walking Torie on Irvington's dimly lit residential streets. Next thing I knew, I was face down on the pavement, blood dripping from my nose. Torie was a Golden, and I loved her. There was so much sweetness about her, but empathy wasn't her strong suit. Though I was in pain and sobbing (with both knees bleeding as well), her reaction was "Why are you just sitting there? Come on! Get up! Let's walk!" The next day I wore sunglasses; I didn't want anyone to think I had been a victim of violence. Black and blue is not attractive. But not seeing a crack in the sidewalk could have happened whether or not I had been dog walking.

Then there was a new house-sit for a wonderful Lab and an elderly, terminally ill cat. Her family left for three weeks overseas, and asked me to medicate her daily. Kitty fought the meds like crazy, and in the process, I got both scratched and bit. Hospice care at home would have been a lot kinder: palliative care that would simply keep her comfortable.

Then, there was yesterday. Arrived at a consultation,and upon entering, saw two small dogs, tied up by their leashes, barking madly at me, the stranger. After they calmed down, I suggested that they be untied, and offered them treats. All seemed well, with petting being reciprocated with wet kisses. Their guardian talked a lot about their issues with strangers, and after an hour, we strolled in the yard; the dogs remained in the house. When we returned by the front door, I was startled when one dog lunged and bit me on my leg, through my jeans. My first dog bite! Immediately I dabbed some alcohol, then headed home to make some phone calls, one to a friend who heads a college nursing program. She calmed me. Fortunately, the puncture was minor, and it had been through my jeans. Obviously, I could not take this job. It simply wouldn't be worth the risk. Though now I know the danger symptoms after a bite: redness, swelling, heat, weeping pus, or pain. Any of those symptoms require immediate medical attention.

I love my work,and have been fortunate to attract some fabulous new clients, even in this recession. They recognize that I go above and beyond to deliver the best possible service. I am grateful for my wonderful clients, their beloved animals, and feel like one of the luckiest people in Portland. Every job has challenges, but thankfully the rewards way outweigh them. Yesterday was simply a learning experience. One of the biggest rewards of this business: it's never boring or routine! I've learned to expect the unexpected.