I spent two years as a professional dogwalker. It's a job that can essentially be boiled down to picking up shit. I was entirely comfortable with this—I figured most professions entail picking up shit in some form or another, metaphorical or otherwise. The actual handling of literal, physical dogshit felt bluntly and refreshingly honest to me. I wore my dogshit as a brown badge of honor.

It helped that I deeply, hopelessly loved every dog I walked. The owners? A different story. Here's a little secret about your dogwalker that you might not realize: Even if you continually "forget" to pay us, we're still gonna come over and walk your dog. Because leaving a dog indoors all day is shitty. It's not the dog's fault you're a terrible person.

Also, if your dog shits and pisses all over your kitchen after you leave for work in the morning and before we come over to take her out for a midday walk—we're gonna clean your kitchen until it's spic and span. You know why? Because if we don't, you're gonna think we didn't come by at all. Besides, the dog doesn't deserve to spend the rest of the day cooped up in a shit-covered, piss-drenched kitchen. It's not the dog's fault that you're such an incredibly lousy, awful person that you didn't take her for a walk in the morning before you left for work because you were hungover and running late.

Another effective tip to get the most out of your dogwalker: Got a hot date directly after work? Don't plan ahead and ask us to come by in the evening to give Princess a quick stroll. No, because we might say we can't, we have plans. What you should do is this: Call our cell frantically at the very last minute, make your date sound like a catastrophic emergency that came up only just now, and please please please you have to go over there and walk her right now and ohmygod you just have to. We'll totally drop everything and do it! Because even though Princess has a godawful name and is horribly behaved and has become irreversibly neurotic in your care, deep down she's a total sweetie and is just hungry, hungry for discipline and love, and the fact that you couldn't be bothered to take the time to train her not to eat her own feces is not her fault. And if your date is going well? Stay the night out! Give us a quick jingle and let us know that we need to take her with us for the night. It's no problem.

Just don't be surprised when we don't bring her back.