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[whitespace] The real scoop on Campbell woman makes a living doing what others won't do for their dogs

Campbell--"When people ask me what I do for a living, I just tell them that I'm a canine poop scooper," says Cassandra Robinson, driving her pickup between appointments. "That about sums it up."

Robinson's business, called K-9 Cleanup, is exactly what it sounds like: cleaning up after dogs do their business.

For $30 a month, she comes to her client's homes every week and removes the doggie droppings.

She's used to people laughing when they hear about her work. But, she doesn't care; she loves her job.

"It's got everything I like," she explains. "I get to be outside and be my own boss. I get to be with dogs that I love, listen to the radio and drive around all day."

Robinson started K-9 Cleanup in 1994. At the time, she was working as a gardener. She had taken the job to get away from a decade's worth of work as a machinist.

"It was stressful and I wished I could be outside," she says.

But gardening, too, proved to be hard work, leaving her dog-tired at the end of the day. So when Robinson's friend, who had founded a similar service entitled K-9 Collections, got too pooped to continue, Robinson jumped at the chance to take over the business.

Instantly, she knew that she had found her dream job. "When I found this, I [decided that] I'm doing this until I die."

Unless the economy takes a nose dive--she knows that when money is tight, her service will be the first to be dumped--Robinson hopes to keep scooping until she's 70.

Of course, it took a little while for her friends and family to grow accustomed to the idea, but Robinson said that they don't dog her too much.

"It's just really not that grody of a thing," she explains. "I mean, it's not like I'm using my hands or anything."

Jumping out of her big Toyota pickup, Robinson grabs her tools and heads for the yard.

Giving a doggie treat to the small black schnauzer jumping on her legs, she begins to rake the little brown chunks into a metal tray.

Five minutes later, she's covered the whole yard. She dumps the waste into a plastic bag, washes her tools, gives another cookie to the dog and she's done.

Richard Hampton, the schnauzer's owner, says that Robinson is particularly good at her business because she cares about dogs.

"She actually talks to the dog and gives her little treats," he says. "What she's doing for a living is not the hardest job by any stretch, but it's a good job and it's an important job."

In fact, Robinson does care about dogs, so much that she once had to dump a client because he wasn't taking care of his dog. After numerous warnings, she finally felt obligated to call animal control, for the dog's sake.

She climbs back into her pickup, rolls the windows down, turns up the country music on the radio and zooms off to her next client. Her short, dark blonde hair dances in the wind as she steers with her tanned, muscular arms.

"It's an enjoyable day," Robinson says, taking a sip from her Diet Coke.

She admits that it may not be the most fulfilling work, but it does make a difference in people's lives. And it certainly leaves her time to pursue her other interests.

Robinson only works around 22 hours a week and earns $2700 a month. By Silicon Valley standards, that may not seem like a high salary, but it leaves time for her friends, camping, and working out at the gym.

"I'm really not the kind of person who feels that I need to be rich," she says. "The most important thing in life to me is to be happy and calm. And that's what this job does for me."

Robinson has two competitors in the area, but seems a little worried that there may soon be a rush of people entering into the pooper scooper business. "Don't go making it sound too positive in your article," she advises the reporter. "I don't want everybody trying it."

For some reason, it doesn't seem as if she has too much competition to worry about.

K-9 Cleanup can be reached at 408.377.3996.
Steven Raphael

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