Our story so far: Freddy Williams sometimes talks about selling his business, SouthPaw Personalized Pet Care, but, at age 33, he likes being his own boss. To catch up on earlier episodes, go to www.washingtonpost.com/freddy.

Episode 16

"I'm having a bad day," Freddy announces, and it's his own fault. He's still wondering how he managed to lock his keys inside the home of Holly and Hanna, the terriers he's been walking for five years.

Lucy, a small brown mutt with short hair and floppy ears, wags her tail and looks up at Freddy. He should have taken Lucy home at least five hours ago, right after dropping off Holly and Hanna. But without his keys he can't open the door to Lucy's house.

The lockout happened at about 1 p.m., when Freddy was finished walking the dogs. He tied Lucy up outside and went into the house. He put his keys on the kitchen counter, then turned to feed Holly and Hanna a treat. "Bye-bye, kids. See you later on," Freddy said to the terriers. He walked out the front door and pulled it shut. The thud of the door awoke in him a sudden dread. His keys, he realized immediately, were still on the counter.

Freddy knocked on the neighbors' doors, hoping someone had a spare key. Nobody home. Then he poked around the perimeter of the house, looking for a fake rock or something that might contain a hidden key. Nothing.

What am I going to do? Freddy thought. "I've never lost one key . . . Never locked myself out, ever." With no keys, he couldn't walk the three dogs still awaiting his arrival. And he still had Lucy, who looked up sweetly, not realizing that she'd just won the lottery: a half-hour walk that had been indefinitely extended.

Freddy's only option was to make embarrassing phone calls and explain his predicament to his clients. "Don't worry about it," one said, according to Freddy. "Thanks for calling," another said.

The clients were "very, very understanding," Freddy says. "Things happen. There are some things that you can't control. It's different if you just pull a no-show. But the fact that I made the effort to call them and let them know what's going on -- now they know why their pet's doing the pee-pee dance when they walk in the door."

Unfortunately, Hanna and Holly's owner said she was stuck at work. She wouldn't be able to let Freddy in until after 8 p.m. She said, however, that her neighbors had a spare key and that they usually return home between 6:30 and 7 p.m.

So Freddy took Lucy back to his apartment, where she scared the bejesus out of his cat. Eventually, Freddy made his way back to Woodley Park, the neighborhood where Holly and Hanna live.

Knock, knock, knock. It's 7 p.m. "I don't think they're home," Freddy says. He's trying to get the spare key from the neighbors. Looks like he's going to have to wait another hour until Hanna and Holly's owner gets home.

Freddy and Lucy resume their endless walk. Then a gray Volvo station wagon pulls over. It's Lucy's owner. He's shocked to see Lucy and Freddy together.

"Did you get my message?" Freddy asks.

No, the man says. He hasn't been home yet. Freddy explains the situation, and his client laughs with sympathy.

Freddy opens the car door, and Lucy hops inside, thumping her tail against the leather seats. At least someone had a good day.

-- Tyler Currie