Paula Poopascooper staggers out of bed, smashing the alarm clock into submission as her feet hit the floor. Darn that infernal dog hair, she thinks as she scratches furiously at her nightgown.
Paula reviews the day's pet sitting schedule, making note of each pet's little idiosyncrasies as she inhales two cups of coffee. "Enjoys peeing on my leg," she writes next to one entry. At another house, she'll be facing a cat who delights in clawing visitors' ankles into a bloody mess. Hooray. "Wear heavy socks," Paula scribbles beside that one. "At least the rest of these pets have agreeable personalities," she thinks.
Not so fast. "Oh poop," she mutters as she reads over her last scheduled appointment. "Bruno again." Last week, Bruno the100-pound lab pulled her straight down the street. "Pack leather gloves," she writes. Finally finished, she stashes her appointment book and throws on her clothes.
Early in Paula's pet sitting career, she'd encountered a few clients who failed to leave poop-scooping supplies. Paula was reduced to scrounging for used paper towels from the clients' trash. Better than using her bare hands—but not by much.
After that unfortunate (and odiferous) debacle, Paula has regularly stocked her car with a pooper-scooper, lots of goodie bags, scads of paper towels, and hand sanitizer. She also packs an airtight bin, just in case she can't dispose of the dog's leavings right away.
Paula's first three stops involve looking after sweet and easy-to-handle pets and, more importantly, they involve no disagreeable surprises. She squeezes in a few errands and wolfs down a drive-thru burger and fries before heading to her lunchtime appointments.
The dog at her 1:00PM appointment is a known escape artist—the "Houdini of Highland Heights," vaulting out of even barely cracked doors at the soonest opportunity. She made a note during her morning preparations, but that Houdini's a crafty one.
Unsurprisingly, the muscle-bound beast behaves just as expected, sprinting down the block to rendezvous with his friends the moment Paula opens the door. She lunges after him and snares the wretched miscreant a split-second before he runs headlong into traffic. To his credit, the dog knows the jig is up and allows himself to be leashed and led home for lunch as if nothing had happened.
Paula's ordeal has left her sweaty and smelling like wet dog. Unfortunately, though, she has no time to freshen up before meeting two new clients.
The new clients greet her with puzzled looks and suspicious sniffs; the dogs welcome her more enthusiastically. Paula notes each pet's food preferences, bathroom requirements, and attack triggers on her client information forms. Almost immediately, the dogs slobber all over the nicely-printed pages, making the writing virtually illegible for anyone but a handwriting expert. Just another perk of the job.
At 3:00PM, finally finished with her afternoon appointments, Paula's relieved to have an hour to herself before beginning her last round of potty visits. She settles into her foul-smelling car and sips an iced latte loaded with so much caffeine it makes her toes curl. Hopefully it'll get her through the evening.
The sudden ring of her unsympathetic cell phone jars her back into reality. Great, Paula thinks as she listens to the panicked voice of one of her regular clients.
Ms. Thornberry made vacation plans without making kennel reservations (again) and now it's an emergency. Her Chihuahua, Bubba, is home alone with no way outside until Paula gets there. To make matters worse (because, why not?), Ms. Thornberry's house is half an hour away, and Paula has to travel through rush-hour traffic to get there in time.
"Hold on, Bubba," Paula pleads as she inches forward. This is starting to become a habit with this client—she pulled the same trick last month. Last time, Paula had arrived with just enough time to save the living room's hardwood floors. Upon arrival this time, it turns out she isn't so lucky. The dog wags his tail as Paula rummages under the kitchen sink for cleaning supplies.
Paula's thankful that the rest of her evening appointments are drama-free. Play fetch with that crazy lab on steroids—check. Locate three cats hiding somewhere in a 3,000-square-foot house—check. Change the cage liner for a foul-mouthed parrot with equally nasty hygiene habits—check.
At 6:30PM, Paula finally climbs into her car, exhausted after her last appointment. What's that smell? Oh wait, it's her. She sniffs again: dog hair, slobber, and a spritz of cat urine. She drives home on autopilot, dreaming of the shower that's only six miles away.
After swinging the car into her driveway, Paula stumbles into her house and drops her smelly, hairy clothes on the laundry room floor. She takes a luxurious ten-minute hot shower and enjoys every second of it.
When she's done, she towels off and nukes a frozen dinner while swiping through voicemails. She makes an executive decision to ignore her paperwork until the weekend, but still spends a few minutes reviewing the next day's appointments.
It's not long before Paula collapses into bed. The next morning will feature a 120-pound Rottweiler with draft-horse-pulling strength, two Yorkies with pill requirements and extremely sharp teeth, and an elderly cat with diarrhea. She's going to need her rest. Tomorrow's just another day at the office.