After her Chinese landlord said dog goes or move, in Adrienne’s new apartment, the Danish landlord was cool, but the loony tenant downstairs first harassed Tulip in the yard, and then complained when she barked at him. Phone calls went round and round.
Moving again. To a house in San Anselmo. It had no yard, but it was quiet, though that would change later.
But still, what to do with the bouncing, energetic Tulip?
Adrienne pondered again and again. She says she wept at night for nine months, worrying how to give the dog the exercise, while working at the Larkspur vegan cafe, The Garden of Eatin’. Somehow, the answer came to her.
Adrienne’s All-Weather Dog-Walking.
Since she had to go a-walking with Tulip, why not take other dogs, too? (Why does this remind me of The Thumbtack Bugle early days?)
I was tapped to design a poster, something I’ve done in my postering days. I chose a deco woman in silhouette, dancing along, followed by four dancing dogs. Best poster I’ve ever done. Damn it was good!
And stapled outside College of Marin and Woodlands Market, it found customers immediately. They called into Adrienne’s new voicemail number. “Hi,” it said, “This is Adrienne of Adrienn’e All-Weather Dog-Walking Serivce. We offer …”
At first, timid, Adrienne said she’d walk one dog at a time. That would give them more individual attention, she said. After a few months, reason prevailed. She discovered that she could handle two to four dogs at a time. By a strange coincidence, that’s how many would fit into her car.
In the beginning, Tulip, a herding dog by nature, fit right in. She herded the dogs into the car, played them to exhaustion at the park, then herded them home.
After a few years, Tulip’s puppy nature matured, and as she grew beyond the need for day-long exercise, she became more alpha, tougher, more aggressive, and finally Adrienne could no longer trust Tulip not to fight at the dog park.
The dog business went on, now Adrienne’s bread and butter. Six months had put her full-time into walking dogs. Her heart easily ran to dogs over tofu pups, and the cafe job was left behind.
So now the dog business, started so she could spend her days with Tulip, went on … but without Tulip.
Adrienne and I lived then in San Anselmo, and I took Tulip to the office with me. On went the dog business; Tulip stayed behind, assisting me with the voicemail business.
Early in the morning, before work, Adrienne walked with Tulip, in the early light. Late in the afternoon, as the light waned, after her long day walking the dogs, Adrienne walked Tulip.
Oh, Adrienne tried various strategems to get me to walk Tulip. How it would be good for me. How it would give me a break. Few worked. Fact is, I did have other things to occupy my time.
Over several years, as Adrienne began to feel the wear from the walking, driving in smog, trying to get around road crews and traffic and contractors, and time as a constant pressure, the bloom wore off the business. She loved the dogs, loved to spend time with them, had a special touch with them. But she was getting tired. It was wearing.
I told her we were moving. She didn’t believe me, was all surprised when it came time to advise the clients: she was leaving. So long to her puppies of all these years. So long to the clients. So long to the friends in the early-morning dog park. So long to Adrienne’s All-Weather Dog-Walking service.
Now, she walks in the mornings. Our new dog, Lizzie, and ever faithful Tulip, walk beside her.
There they go.