Brooklyn dog walkers recall their ‘high maintenance’ canine encounters

Dogs light up your life, but the job isn't always easy. via IG user @the_dog_walking_network
Dogs light up your life, but the job isn’t always easy. via IG user @the_dog_walking_network

There are two relationships essential to every stressed-out New York City office drone: a reliable dog walker and a reliable weed dealer. In many ways, these services are similar: both provide invaluable peace-of-mind, both require you to allow otherwise total strangers into your home and both require a good referral from a trusted friend.

With so much overlap between drug dealers and dog heelers, it was only a matter of time before their worlds collided on television’s most incisive portrayal of contemporary New York life, HBO’s High Maintenance.

This Friday’s episode connects The Guy with a dog-walker whose passion for pooches rivals most folks’ religious convictions or bodega loyalty. It’s our favorite episode of television about walking dogs since Ilana nearly killed Judith Light in season one of Broad City.

Of course, walking dogs isn’t all leisurely strolls and puppy kisses. And in honor of tomorrow’s episode of High Maintenance, we wrangled a handful Brooklyn-based dog walkers to share stories of their job at its most, er, dogged.

Dog Shit Happens

“I used to have a client with a miniature pinscher, and my client was a flight attendant. He would leave the dog alone in the house all day with the TV on the Oprah channel and just have walkers come in 3x a day. This dog HATED me and basically everything. He’d try to bite me every time so I’d ask the client to leave the harness on so I could just clip a leash on and go. One time he forgot to leave the harness on but the dog still had to go out. I made a little slip lead with the leash and got the dog outside, where he promptly got off the leash. I grabbed him and he shat diarrhea all down my front.”

– Danielle Kolker, dog walker as well as ukulele player/vocalist for Out of System Transfer and saxophonist for Funkrust Brass Band


Dog walking requires having a looooot of keys. via @rawk9food / IG
Dog walking requires having a looooot of house keys. via @rawk9food / IG

One Key Ring To Rule Them All

“It’s shocking to me how the large ring of keys from my clients’ apartments hanging off my backpack always draws more attention than the sight of a golden retriever or noodly little dachshund walking beside me. For instance, on one particularly hot day, I was waiting in the grocery line to purchase some iced tea. Relishing a break from the heat, I suddenly noticed a grown woman giddily staring at me behind cupped hands. She looked like a child about to burst into laughter. Confused if it was my sweat-soaked clothes or if i had gotten some form of dog waste on the bottom of my shirt, I looked down and realized she was shyly and excitedly eyeing my comically large set of keys. This sort of thing happens daily as old men saunter up to ask me ‘how I keep track of ’em’ and parents stop me midwalk to show their children my keyring.”

– Greg Kirkorian, dog walker as well as founder of Plump Bundt, a gay zine/ lifestyle company

Rejection Is A Bitch

“People can get really particular about making special requests for their pets. I was walking from the subway to my new client’s house for a meet and greet when I checked the notes to find that the dog is uncomfortable with tall men that have goatees. This posed a bit of a problem, as I am a tall man with a goatee. I called the owner, and she swore it wouldn’t be a problem, but I just couldn’t get over the insecurity that I just wasn’t this dog’s type. I had never thought to exchange face pics with a dog before, but I might have to for future clients.”

– Dan Rodaire, dog walker as well as writer and performer


Weed doggy. via @bilgote_homie_street
Weed-doggy! via @bilgote_homie_street

It’s A Dog Eat Dope World

“One time, before a doggy sleepover, a client of mine said that his dog had a lot of anxiety and to help him out with it, he gave him pot butter. Just a teeny, tiny bit, melted and mixed in his food. I was a little skeptical; this can’t be good for the dog?! But on the first day of our sleepover the dog was totally losing his shit and in turn making me lose MY shit, so I figured why not? So I pulled out a quart container of strawberry yogurt from the freezer which, when opened, revealed a big ol’ block of dank, green, weed butter. I melted a teeny, tiny bit of it and mixed it into the kibble. Fifteen minutes later, that dog was OUT. And two minutes later, I was making pot-butter scrambled eggs. It was a lovely weekend.”

– Aileen Clark, dog walker as well as co-host of the storytelling show Jenna & Aileen Think You’re Great, plus comedy videos of

Writer and comedian Bobby Hankinson can’t afford to pay anyone to walk his tiny, gay dog named Carly Rae Jepsen, but he is accepting volunteers on social media @bobbyhank.

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