I was on the phone with my best friend, Shannon, at 1 AM on Saturday night. Which is more than a little dismal, considering we were both in bed watching awful television (an indulgence I rarely get in any of my TV-less college abodes) and discussing how we were both having the worst weekends of our lives while many of our friends were doing more exciting things than whining in bed. Explaining to each other how we wanted to deal with our stressful issues in reasonable and adult manners (“UGHH I JUST WANT TO DIE, SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE”), we decided that there must be something cosmic going on. Like a worst-weekend-ever virus, or astrological disposition, or something that really had me pining for Monday. Or maybe it was just us?

I have a job at a dog-walking business in San Francisco, which I have learned is a pretty normal part of many city dwellers’ everyday operations. When I was hired, I was so pumped to get to hang out with dogs on my days off class, make a little extra cash, and fill the empty hole in my heart after leaving my little dog at home. Which is really hard. Could you leave this little guy!!!!!


When I was hired last spring, my boss decided my skills would be best put to use on the marketing side of things, so I’m not exactly the dog walker on call. But this weekend, my boss proposed that I take over the dog-sitting and -walking while she enjoyed her first weekend off in six months. Look how nice and thoughtful I am! The thing is, I didn’t even realize that I was being such a selfless, caring, thoughtful employee. I took it on for somewhat selfish reasons, because I got some billz 2 pay and a weekend in the city sounded fun. I was excited to make some cash and hang out with dogs. Because dogs are awesome, right?


Dogs are awesome when there is one of them. When they have a yard you can just open the door to so they can take care of their doggy deeds. When they need only one real walk a day.

I had an agenda from Friday afternoon to Sunday that included walking the dogs on a timed schedule of morning, afternoon, and before bed. This is where it gets tricky and quickly turns into the weekend that almost killed me (otherwise known as my boss’s daily life as a dog walker): three dogs belonged to my boss, and one to her boyfriend. Also on the bill were a large dog across the hall with puppy energy, and, two miles away, two bigger dogs that required extra-long walks. Did I mention one of these dogs was very ill and kept having accidents all over the apartment? Let’s do the math so you can join in on my pity party: seven dogs, in three groups, three walks a day that on average amount to 30 minutes, for three days. That’s more than a 20-hour weekend without pause walking dogs or en route in city traffic to get to the dogs, in our enormous company dogmobile. Have you ever driven in San Francisco? Did it make you nearly wet your pants? How about in a Tahoe? I was prepared to die via dog-transportation device. Jesus TAKE THE WHEEL.

After my final dog walk Sunday afternoon, I decompressed for a few minutes by lying nearly lifeless on the couch, and reflected on how spectacularly difficult that weekend was for me, even though what I had done was only to take over my boss’s regular dog-walking responsibilities (and not any of the other stuff she deals with uncomplainingly on a daily basis, like business, personal, and domestic stuff) … for just a weekend. This weekend was a glimpse into her everyday life. And while by the end of it I thought I would cry if another dog even glanced at me, I realized I had allowed her to have just a moment of a real weekend, which is something that I always take for granted.

So before I made my trek back to Oakland to hide in my bed away from all dogs forever, I decided to bake my boss a batch of cupcakes. She is unfortunately cursed with serious gluten, dairy, and soy allergies, and we’ve had multiple discussions about how much she misses the pleasures of those allergy-triggering substances. I’m very ambitious in the kitchen, so I decided to take on the challenge. I’d made a lot of vegan cupcakes before, and I had vegan frosting down pat. I whipped up a batch to top delicious vanilla gluten-free cupcakes filled with jam, garnished with turbinado sugar and a berry on top. So cute! Avoided all allergies! Pat myself on the back for being such a talented baker and also a very thoughtful employee and friend!!! My weekend had finally turned around.

And then … I noticed a couple of things. A couple of sad things. First, I checked the vegan shortening I had used in the frosting. I saw in tiny print on the back the package proclaimed that the frosting actually contained soy. I went to the bedroom to throw myself on the bed and cry about it, when I noticed my boss’s sick dog had pooped on a pile of her dirty laundry. Sometimes, apparently, your weekend just hasn’t been shat on enough.

I left the cupcakes in the fridge, because I already had too much stuff to carry home, with a note reading “I really wanted to leave you cupcakes you could eat, but I realized at the last minute that the frosting has soy…” with lots of frowny faces, which apparently my boss didn’t see, because the next day she posted a picture of the cupcakes on a plate, ready to be eaten, on Facebook, and I had to warn her not to touch them or she might die.

But hey, selfless acts, right? ♦