On Dog Jobs and Getting a Foot in the Door

By Lynn –

I titled this with “Jobs” because in my situation, the best I can look for is a job. Those (un)foreseen circumstances noted earlier have placed me in a world where I’m definitely not entitled to start doing exactly what I want in life. I’ve been looking for mostly animal-related jobs: vet’s offices, kennels, the local barns, pet retail (excluding stores selling actual pets), and the like. So far, my phone has been depressingly silent, but let’s stay upbeat.
I applied at my local PetsMart to feel out their training program. I know what it is, I know what they like and don’t like, but I felt it was worth a shot, even though their ideas and mine are different as night and day. Apparently, there IS an opening for a trainer at the closest store (which is even next to the barn where I’ll be training a horse for class credit!), but ohhhh no AIKI, what were you thinking, it was going to be easy? “Apply online” was the first black mark. Oh well, the price we pay for convenience&so it’s off the library where I answer questions about performance at previous jobs, promise to submit (almost bondage-like, if you will) to drug testing and background checking, copy-paste my resume and fill out the bane of every job searcher’s life: the personality test. In so many words, I was offered statements such as “I do not like to offend people” and given four options (from “[Dis]Agree” to “Strongly [Dis]Agree”), from which I was told to pick the first one that came to mind. Following the computer’s attempt to determine my psychoses was the tax accreditation questions, general questions regarding the nature of the job, and finally a “Thank you for applying, we’ll be in touch.” The whole process took about 45 minutes.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why they have such a long and involved process simply to work at the store. But having taken a course in psychological assessment, I’d just rather take the MMPI-2 as part of a job application: not only does it give a more accurate picture, but it also has a built-in lie detector! In terms of a huge corporation searching for good employees, you can’t beat that. (Now I’m almost sad that I sold back my textbook for that class, though even the professor said that it was the best of all the most awful assessment texts he’d reviewed.) I was also bit by the reality bug when I realized that (per the obviously rigged questions) part of my salary would be coming from sales commissions and simply wandering the store annoying people and bringing the training classes into the conversation in order to hopefully sign them up.

I also applied to PetCo as a trainer, and I actually liked their process, though you could tell where it was leading. They’d give potential scenarios of things that happen in class (ex. shy/fearful dog, assertive dog, growler, jumping on people, etc) and I had to select what action I’d take from 4 choices in a drop-down menu. Some things were obviously wrong, others obviously right and others were just plain out there. We’ll see what kind of looks I get from them 🙂

But let’s start with the baby steps: just keep looking for jobs.

The application process for the locally owned pet supplies store was wonderfully easy, however I might be in a bit of a crunch with them because they’re hiring all right, just not in the location that’s the most convenient to which me and my old carriage horse can drive (just a transmission problem, but then again it was “just a brake problem” and “just a rust problem” on our older Beast that made my parents forbid me to drive it). I have numerous calls in to the local vet school as clinic or barn help, so we’ll see where this goes.

But to talk about dogs on duty: Z has been brushed (both teeth and fur), had his ears cleaned out and toe fur trimmed for his weekly visit to the hospital. Every time I help get him ready, I realize that that’s his job, to make people’s day a little better whether or not they know it: while brushing teeth and whatnot is pretty everyday for him, he knows when his red Therapy Dog collar comes out, and just like the “Yay-it’s-Christmas” dance, there’s the “Yay-time-to-work!” dance. Even before they were truly ready to leave, he was prancing around, throwing his leash into the air with his muzzle, all with that doggy smile on his face&ah, if only life were that easy! To go into a large building, find people upon which to lean and play the “I-don’t-get-enough-ATTENTION!” card. Then there are the times when the attention card isn’t enough; someone really needs him to cry into or play with to relieve the stress of waiting for someone in surgery or simply sitting in a hospital bed all day. Those times are probably what working as a therapy dog is all about. Even watching a comatose person respond to him licking peanut butter off their hands (he’s not a licker by nature) is something that I’ll never forget.