I would make a copy of the map for each day so I could see what I was in for the next day. I usually named the daily book for something that reminded me of that book. The rain book... it seemed to always rain when I read that book. The mountain book... lots of hills. You get the idea.
I normally read about 10,000 meters a month. I figured I walked about 12 to 18 miles each day. I have very weak ankles so I had to wear high top boots, otherwise I would quickly twist my ankle walking. I would wear out a new set of boots in three months. I had calluses so thick that I once stepped on a nail and continued to walk for several blocks before I noticed it!
I had mostly houses on my routes. I would conservatively estimate that one half to two thirds of those meters were in yards with dogs in them. That means I dealt with 5000 to 6000 dogs every month! That, my friends, is a lot of dogs.
I figured I performed the first act of a burglary every time I read a meter because I had to go into the back yard and right up to the house where the meter was located. I wore a nice, blue, Gas Company uniform so people could see I was not a real burglar, but the dogs didn't know. The company was real big on reading the meter once a month. That was because they wanted the meter to be physically inspected on a regular basis. Lots of times, especially after a rain storm, I would find a meter seeping just a tiny bit. Nothing dangerous but enough that it needed to be fixed. The actual read of the meter was also taken.
Now, I read every meter. I carried dog spray and cheap dog biscuits. One way or the other I was going to read that meter. I made every effort to make friends with the dog in each yard. You could read a meter much faster with a friendly dog then a mean dog, but when you signed up for gas you gave the company the right to access the gas meter during normal business hours, Monday through Friday. I came, I saw, I read.
Reading a meter quickly and accurately was very important. The Gas Company was very picky about accuracy. The average read error rate for my division was under one read error per one thousand meters. That is pretty good! Once we finished our book we could go home. That was nice.
Anyway, I dealt with a lot of dogs. Here are some true stories of my interactions with those dogs... my "Dog Tales"!
There are three statements that I heard over and over in one form or another.
Just in case anyone is interested, in the course of my meter reading career I was bitten a total of three times. Twice by German Shepherds with helpful owners distracting me. Both required stitches. Once by some little mutt dog that jumped up and bit me on the thigh. That one did not require stitches but there was an owner present who was trying to help.
Dogs are kinda like people. They can be incredibly smart and incredibly stupid. One thing to remember is this. A dog is a dog and a man is a man. If you walk in a yard as MACHO MAN or WOMAN (There are women meter readers you know!) that dog will give way. That's just the way things are. Yeah, I know, your dogs attack trained and won't let anyone in the yard. But your meter gets read every month, doesn't it.
The meter book, that held the meter read slips for that day, had a real hard cover and was about five inches wide and nine inches long. When I walk in the yard and the dog jumps at me I just let him bit the meter book. Then he figures he's done his duty and he's outta here. Really, the biggest problem was getting in the yard without letting the dog out. Very bad to let them get out because it takes forever to get them back in again.