The usual pawspects

Why is ketchup an essential tool in the dog walker’s locker? Why do we call to dogs in a daft, high-pitched sing-song voice? How many treats are enough?

I’m no Cesar Milan, but after four years of dog walking (rustling really) and caring for other folks’ pooches, I reckon I can do a pretty good analysis of the typical characteristics and personality traits of our four-legged chums.

So, here – and entirely without any scientific foundation! – is a guide to …

With a million thanks to the creative genius that is @cartujakds
  • The Moocher. With the ability to sniff out a treat (or a dropped sandwich) at 100 paces, the moocher is both easy to control – simply wave a treat in his or her direction – but also a veritable nightmare. Because when Fido gets a whiff of something good to snaffle, he’s gone, gone, gone! Think dead rabbits, rotting bin bags, empty kebab wrappers. You better be well armed with plenty of biscuits to keep that twitching nose close to you. Places never to walk a moocher: Parks, beaches, anywhere small children and people are. In short, far far away from grub.
  • The Roller. Here’s where the ketchup comes in. The roller loves nothing more than covering herself in poo. The smelliest, toughest-to-remove poop your nose ever had the misfortune to breathe in. Fox poo is the most common, but beware too of badger gunk and duck effluence when you’re near water. The roller is particularly keen to be enveloped in the faeces of other beasts as soon as she’s had a bath. Tomato ketchup is your friend here. Lather the catsup where the minging mess is, rinse thoroughly, then repeat until the odour is manageable. Places never to walk a roller: Everywhere. Sorry.
  • The Humper. So Rover has had his bits removed. Job done, you’re thinking. That embarrassing humping of adjacent human legs, beds and cuddly toys will surely stop. As if. With the humper, the spirit is more willing than ever, even if the flesh is weak. He’ll hump his best doggy pal during playtime. Small children on the floor are fair game. His bed will get it relentlessly when he’s happy – ie after meal times, when you’ve come home after work, when the sun is shining. And it’s not just the boys who like a little bump ‘n’ grind even after their physical ability to procreate has been removed. Girls will hump in an awesome display of power, like a frenetic little four-legged Beyoncé. Almost forgot. Licking too. If you’re offended by PDAs, the lavish way dogs like to greet their best canine chums may send you over the edge. Places never to walk a humper: Everywhere. Sorry again. I’m sensing a theme here…
  • The Nervous Nellie. A quiet, shy little dog who trots along at your heel must be a joy to walk, I hear you saying. If only. A nervous Nellie reacts to every little thing, whether it’s a jet flying overhead or a particularly vocal magpie. Other dogs, passers-by, cars, the swish of a bike wheel – all can reduce Nellie to a quivering wreck. Equally split between male and female dogs, the nervous Nellie likes to walk right under your feet. And if there’s no sign of Nellie, that’s because she’s run back to the van and is hiding under the wheel arch from her own shadow. Places never to walk a Nervous Nellie: Every… oh you know the drill by now.
  • The runner. I’ve saved the best – or the worst really – for last. The runner does exactly what it says on the tin. Once freed of the tyranny of the leash, the runner is off. And you’d better hope something more attractive than you and your increasingly desperate shouts will bring her back. The runner is a free spirit, man – don’t fence me in, she’s saying. The runner is the bane of every dog walker’s life, whether you’re doing it for a living or just have the dumb bad luck to have chosen a runner as  your family dog. Hours of recall training may give you the illusion that you’re in control, but the runner can never really be tamed. And she has the potential to turn every quick walk round the park into three hours of pain. You all remember Fenton, don’t you? Places never to walk a runner: You’re kidding, right?

And here’s something to chill the blood – sometimes a dog is a mix of all of the above…

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