“The Dog Days Are Not Over” by Layla Hansen: Play Care Counselor at Ruby & Jack’s and a Sophomore at Marymount Manhattan College

November 27, 2013


I moved into this city three months ago. A week before the best landmark of my life, my dad and I visited this area in hopes of finding me a job. I come from a suburb small enough that if you drive ten minutes the wrong route, you will be two towns over and it’ll be the farm province where the horse population is higher than the human population. I knew I wasn’t going to miss much when I moved to New York, but the lack of untamed nature and constant presence of animals were a definite adjustment. My goal was simple: get a job where I can continue loving animals without having to travel 30 to 40 minutes away. Just as I told my father that, this sunflower yellow entrance illuminated on the corner of 61st and 2nd. No, seriously. We rounded the corner and it looked as if light cascaded down from the heavens and shed a spotlight on Ruby and Jack’s Doggy Shack. I’m projecting my over imaginative mind, but still. Sometimes, life is pretty rad.

Working as a dog handler at the Doggy Shack is a wonderful experience. Each dog here has such a spectacular presence; we can’t help but love them all. When I’m here, I work to create a safe and loving environment for each pet. I know if I put my trust in others for something as valuable as an animal, I would want to be 100% confident in who is handling my dog. I want owners to understand I work for their dogs. If one is anxious, I’ll hold him or her until shaking subsides. If a few are hyperactive, I’ll referee playtime so that rough housing is kept to a minimum. We all want what is best for your dogs, and I enjoy keeping the pets safe yet satisfied with their days spent here.

Working at a dog daycare, I learn that dogs have personalities just as humans do. Some don’t know how to sit still for more than thirty seconds because their world is a play-field. Some just wait for me to sit down so they can crawl into my lap and continue their nap. Some are a hilarious balance of both. Everyone here has quirks and personalities that I can’t help to love or laugh at. We try to capture these characteristics with pictures, but they move so fast and images don’t even do them justice! Experiencing these beloved pets is best done in person. I’m glad I can work with every dog that comes in from Hugo to Oliver Bean and Panda to Tali. Dogs are their own spirits, big or small and active or mellow. There’s something about those individual differences (personality and size!), that win their ways into my heart.

Sydney wants to be pet forever. If I dare to stop, she’ll find my hand and force her head underneath it as if saying, “Your hand still works. Keep going!” Such a cute and smart gesture gets me every time, so I end up continuing the cycle. Lego stares at me with his melting chocolate chip eyes until I sit on the ground. He’ll squish his way into my lap, molding his boulder body until he’s comfortable and my leg is begging for mercy after falling asleep. It’s impossible to want to move, though, after looking at his precious face. Henry is sometimes unaware of his mini-pony size, for when I enter the room to say hello to him, his paws will reach my shoulders and topple me to the ground. It’s a scheme, I believe, for him to get me on his level so he can get better hugs. Chloe the antelope bounces towards the lobby window the second someone she recognizes pops into view. Her stub of a tail tries to wag, but instead the whole lower half of her body frantically wiggles back and forth, wanting me to open the door to say hello. I could write pages about every single dog I encounter at work. This, however, is not a book. As much as I’d love to be a published novelist at the infant age of 19, a blog post will do for now.

I grew up with a yellow Labrador retriever, and when I see his whip-like tail happiness or his belly-rub begging eyes in other dogs, I know he’s with me. When I see the pure jubilance in a dog the moment he or she spots his or her owner, I remember when I’d come home from school and my dog would bolt to the front door, impatiently waiting. He’d bark, jump, and say hello before I could even close the door. A dog’s unconditional love for his or her owner is one of the most beautiful bonds I never get tired of seeing and living. I’m happy to work at Ruby and Jack’s and even happier to spend time with these heartwarming animals. These dogs are well taken care of from our staff members here to a kind a loving family once they go back home.