Ryan Bradford got an English degree from the University of Utah. But plans for a career in media weren't panning out and unpaid internships were, well, unpaid. So he took the first job offer he got — as a transitional employee with the U.S. Postal Service.
One of the first interview questions asked was whether he was afraid of dogs. Bradford grew up with dogs so he told the interviewer no. "It seemed like a pretty silly interview question," he wrote in an email.
But a few months of letter-carrying changed that. Bradford took a disposable camera with him to document his canine encounters and then posted the photos to his blog.
On the first day of training, we watched an hour-long video about dogs and "reading their language." I didn't know dog whispering was a job requirement to work for the USPS.
The mailman/dog relationship is no lie. It's like they can smell it on you, a scent that triggers their hunting instinct. But the owners are worse. Opposite of owners who talk to their pets in baby voices are the ones who scold their pets as if they were aristocratic children.
"He won't bite you, but he will lick you to death." — every dog owner
If you're lucky, owners will lock their pets up behind a gate, but many times it'll just be a flimsy rope that nearly reaches where you need to deposit the mail.
Sometimes you can't see the dog; you can only hear their unholy growls and snarling from behind the mail slot. Then, when you put the mail through, you'll find it wrenched from your grip and sucked into the house. You walk away, kissing your fingers, thankful to still have them. This photo, taken through the slot, is a rare glimpse of this horrifying experience.
We carry orange warning cards to warn us about households with known, vicious dogs. The card will give the dog's breed, name and special instructions. It's incredibly unsettling to uncover a card that just says "teeth."
"It may help to speak in a soft voice — an octave or so lower than your normal voice, perhaps — and not to make any sudden movements or loud noises, while still being sure not to take the dogs by surprise." — PETA's advice against dog attacks. Also applicable to Tyrannosaurus rex.
"What, do they spray you down with meat juice before you leave the station?" — customer, trying to control an unwieldy dog in my presence
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"Dogs become frightening once you put the uniform on," said Bradford. "I can't put my finger on it. I'm convinced that the thin pinstripes of our shirts reveal a MagicEye message that only dogs can see, and that message is: BITE ME."
We found the photos to be charming and worth sharing.