It’s a Border, Jack…

I had attempted to persuade the management team from the semi luxury condo suites that their shareholders would appreciate a palette of concierge pet services. They nibbled and I stayed in touch, but they had not committed to a sampling of what I offered them. I would occasionally receive a call regarding nuisance barking or a neighbor dispute that involved a pet or two. I had a foot in the door, as they say…

doginskatesChuckie was the perfect busy, athletic person’s Border Jack (a physically striking melange of Border Collie x Jack Russell Terrier). Chuckie had two small problems (possibly three) – he was a brilliant adolescent and he lived in Marc’s home. Time would address adolescence – it always does. Marc was a busy Brooklynite – there was no question. He would leave his studio apartment  before 8AM, each work day and not return before 6PM. On occasion, he’d return closer to 7:30 in the evening. Those of you, who are or who have lived a dog professionals’ life have guessed where this is going…

Marc adores Chuckie! He has professional portraits of his boy on his mantle and nestled in his office space. As holidays near, Marc’s colleagues inquire after Chuckie, as one might ask after someone’s Mom or Dad. Chuckie is family on four legs – so it seemed.

Chuckie enjoys his human, immensely – Marc is a wonderfully engaged play mate for Chuckie. However, Chuckie doesn’t see much of Marc, as Marc is not frequently home. Marc indulges in his love affair with sleep, when he gets home or attempts to. And, then there are these moments that require his attention, of late. Within the past two weeks, Marc came home and was unable to open his front door. The key and locks were fine, but it was as if there were an incredible weight against the door, preventing him from opening it more than a few inches. Confused as to why this was happening, he used his smartphone to take a picture of inside of his apartment. Capturing this image – dogeatbookMarc was horrified to find the remnants of an antique book’s spine, partially wedged under the door. Each time Marc pushed the door, he inadvertently jammed it in more securely. Chuckie had moved out of his line of sight, but he had apparently spent some time, redecorating. Marc valued his antique books and was trying to refrain from screaming. After all, it’s just a book. At least, he prayed it was just a single book.

Marc believed it am entirely random event until he returned home, several days ago, to find that Chuckie had shredded a wooden chair leg and in his fervor, he’d lacerated his gums , leaving wood pieces, saliva and bloody paw prints in seemingly random places throughout his living space. Additionally, his neighbor (directly beneath his unit) had left him a phone message saying that it sounded as though someone is using ancient roller skates in his apartment. This was apparently the chair being dragged for place to place…

It was about this time that Marc sought a referral from the concierge staff. Marc sent me a rather embarrassed message, asking that I call or text and that I be discreet – he apparently was concerned that his neighbors were going to spread rumors about him. He didn’t want anyone “besmirching” his dog’s character, either. Marc and I spoke, set up an appointment for the following day, and we met in the building lobby when he returned from work. The Concierge greeted Marc and shared that he had a guest and nodded towards me. Approaching Marc, I introduced myself and fell into step with someone I would never have expected to live with a Border Jack. He was similar in height, build and coloring to James Corden (appearances aside, the host of CBS’ Late Show is not a huge fan of dogs). The elevator ride to his floor was silent. I figured he would be much more talkative in the privacy of his unit. When we reached the front door of Marc’s condo, he fished out the key fob out of his front pocket and said, “Dennis, I have a confession to make. Making eye contact with Marc, he continued, “I’ve been following your posts on Facebook and reading your blog.” Grinning at Marc, I said, “Well, that’s better than stalking me and searching through my household trash. That’s perfectly normal and harmless, Marc. My apologies, actually. I’m not all that interesting.” Marc and I entered his unit and I noticed the sounds of excited whining and what I imagined was dog nails scrambling on hardwood flooring. “Your home, Marc. From the sounds of it, you and I are not the only one who know it!” I took off my backpack  and sat in a chair near the door. I figured that Marc would be zooming through with his dog, his dog has probably been cooped up for a while. Marc appeared in the hallway, amid the din of a pulling, wheezing, frantically straining and scampering, black and white blur of a adolescent Border Jack. It the other end of the leash – a red faced, irritated-looking man who did not look like he was ready to be singing karaoke – not in a car, or anywhere else. In fact, from the way he looked at Chuckie, I was a little concerned for the dog. I asked, “Going for a walk? Marc all but sneered, “Not much to gain by doing that,” Marc said. Oh! I figured that Chuckie must have already eliminated, which might have explained Marc’s ire. “The little bastard already peed on the floor. Of course, the cleanup is really easy. You see, the torn sheets and innards from my mattress have largely absorbed the mess. I will just damp mop the floor, after I get rid of the debris,” Marc said dejectedly. Reaching for the leash, I told Marc that we’d be back after a walk – I suspected that Chuckie and I could use some air, and his human could use some space – to cleanup the mess and to distance himself from the desire to put his dog in the meat grinder. I walked out of the condo, making a mental note of the unit number. As I approached the elevator, I wished for a head halter.. Chuckie. Chuckie had no idea that we were going for a walk. Chuckie was determined to cause his martingale collar to saw through the hair, skin, and soft tissues of his larynx. Walking Chuckie was going to be an experience! I took this in stride, confident that my taking Chuckie for a walk, in this instance, may have saved his life. I was fairly certain that I’d find Marc in a better frame of mind, when I returned to his condo…

JamesboxerbriefsHe was no longer red-faced. Of course, he was also no longer fully dressed – some people really do “let their hair down” – and the presence of a stranger in their home will not deter them from letting it all hang out. I’m a massage therapist and no stranger to complete or partial nudity, so I opted to ignore any minute, dangling participles.

Marc got right to the point. He said,”Bringing Chuckie home stands out as one of the poorest choices I’ve ever made, aside from some of the people I’ve dated.” He’s considered finding him a new home, however Marc said, “I quickly realized that I have no idea how to go about it. So, I set out to find someone knowledgeable who would know how to do the right thing by Chuckie. Dennis, you were recommended to me, and I researched you, online – I’ve been Facebook stalking you, for weeks. I know that you’ve been thinking about getting another dog and even though Chuckie is not what you’ve described as the ideal dog for you, I know that professional trainers often like dogs like Chuckie because they’re smart, athletic and take direction well.”

I must have outwardly shown my displeasure, as Marc quickly added, “I apologize for the deception, Dennis. I am going to pay for your time, regardless. I appreciate that you aren’t yelling at me, expressing disgust at my irresponsible behavior.” He was right to consider that I might be upset, and to reassure me that I would be paid for my time. This is work, after all. I asked Marc, “Is there a particular reason that you felt I might be inclined to take an interest in Chuckie, Marc?” His disclosure has freed me from any obligation to attempt to market dog training and pet services, as Marc was hoping that I’d take the dog off of his hands. “No,” he said. I thought that his being cute wouldn’t be enough, but I figured that once you met him and… “Marc,” I interrupted him. Your dog is destroying objects in your home. Chuckie is eliminating, indoors. He may be disturbing your neighbors and for all I know, he may have separation anxiety.” Marc nodded, but failed to respond verbally. So, I asked my question a little differently. “Marc, why would I be inspired to take on this dog?”

Marc replied, “If you won’t take pity on me, I figured you might feel bad for Chuckie  – I haven’t been doing well with providing him with the guidance he needs and you need a dog like Chuckie in your life, to showcase. He’s a perfect business card!”

Laughing at what Marc said because he obviously had been Facebook stalking me, I told him, “that I would consider what he’d told me, and that I’d reach out to him in a day or two.” I asked him to go get Chuckie, so I could take some pictures and possibly a quick video. He went to retrieve the dog, and I started to go through a list of people in my head – possible Chuckie adopters. I was fairly certain that Chuckie wasn’t going to be on “the lifetime plan” with me. Just before Marc returned with a leashed Chukie, I felt the notification from my phone – I had received an electronic payment. it was from Marc. True to his word, he adequately paid for my time and more.

The next dilemma – how do I get good still shots of this dog, that clearly doesn’t DO still? Also, what kind of story can I weave that does justice to this oddity – the heavyset guy in the boxer briefs holding the whiling dervish on a leash?

Video may have to suffice.



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