Thursday, May 06, 2010

Be It Ever So Humble...

I have been house/dog sitting for several days. I live in a snug one room cottage so the prospect of having room to spread out is always so beguiling that I usually say yes when asked to take care of someone's house or pets for a bit. The first night I was there, I found notes on the kitchen counter detailing the feeding and toilet habits of the three dogs with whom I'd be living for the next four days. Jake, the elderly Golden Retriever, was to get two scoops of kibble laced with gravy from the fridge twice a day.

 The elderly but childlike Jake

The two Shih-Tzu, Brady and Oscar, were to get a scoop each of a different kind of kibble. Oscar needed a pill (hidden in a small spoonful of canned dog food) which was also offered (sans pill) to Brady. Jake got to lick the spoon so he wouldn't feel left out.


They all had their own private spaces on the extensive lawns. Jake went out back on a long leash that was chained to a porch post. Oscar and Brady had their own individual retractable leashes and use of the side yard. Jake liked to play throw and fetch. Brady and Oscar liked to bark.

They all love being with people and did not want me out of their sight. They followed me everywhere, their toenails click-click-clicking on the wood and tile floors. It sounded as though I were dragging something behind me. I'd take a step and hear ch-ch-ch-ch-ch as the three scrambled to their feet and came to see what I was doing or where I might be going. Kitchen? Oh goody, we'll come, too. Bedroom? Wait! We're with you. Bathroom? Not without us!

Jake slept on a mat in the hallway. Brady and Oscar were trained to kennel and mention of a doggy treat had them scrambling for their wire cage. I had a large bed in a large room with a bathroom just steps away. The trouble was that the room I was to sleep in was at the other end of the house from where O and B were bedded down. I was just drifting off to sleep when I was wakened by a barrage of yips that threatened to break glass.

I sat up straight up, every hair on my arms and head standing straight up with me. When I finally realized where I was and what the sound was, I crawled out of bed, dragged the kennel into my room and fell asleep to the sound of snuffles and jingling dog tags and grunts of contentment. Then at the door came a scratch and a whine. I crawled out of bed again and opened the door for Jake.

The feeding and toilet schedule for my three furry friends became routine by day three. We all slept together in peace, and wherever I went I knew that if I looked down, three faces would look back up at me. The morning I left, Oscar and Brady took one look at my suitcases and set up such yelps of protest that I was moved to tears. I took a picture of them saying goodbye - you can see Jake looking resigned to his lonely fate and Oscar pleading at the door. Brady did not want to watch me leave so he went into the living room, barking goodbye as he went.

 Jake and Oscar saying goodbye

I am home now. It is very, very quiet. I sleep through the night. But I find myself looking down a lot and listening for the ch-ch-ch-ch of tiny nails on the floor.


Brian Hayes said...

Companion is a very very big word. Sometimes I just laugh at the thought that in this odd large world there's a creature to do that, always tickling our heart.

Barbara said...

Looks a lot like my gentle Jake. I think you need a dog. You obviously have a way with animals.

Pauline said...

Brian - I have had a number of dogs but none in the past several years. I miss having a dog.

Barbara - even the smallest dog would be too much for this tiny cottage that just holds a cat and me! I love dogs and get to share the neighbors' yellow labs so all is well.

Sky said...

pauline, when we get another pup (we are currently petless) it will be worth it, when we need someone, to fly you to seattle to house sit for us, if you will come! wow - what a lucky pet owner to have you near, not to speak of the 3 very lucky pups! i laughed as i read this remembering the days when i never went to the bathroom without company, would see a puppy face peeping around the shower curtain as i showered, was awakened each morning by a cold nose nudging me, left each morning for work with a sad face bidding me goodbye, and was met with swoons and puppy kisses every afternoon. nothing quite like it. oh, how i miss my babies! (died at ages 18 and 15.5 yrs)

Star said...

Oh how sad it is to say goodbye to an animal. If only they could understand 'I'll come back again one day!' It must be just awful for them to see their human leave, even if you were on loan, just for while.
I have to say goodbye to my cat Millie when I go back to England. She seems to know when I get out the suitcases and she transfers her allegiance. I have the same trauma coming the other way when I say goodbye to Patch. Now that I've done it a few times, they do know and because I have returned each time, they understand but I wouldn't say they like it. Patch always goes and sleeps on my suitcase the day before I leave, just as if to say... 'you're not going! and that's final. You can't leave without this, whatever it is, and I'm sitting on it, so there!'
Blessings, Star
Blessings, Star

Hilary said...

Oh those faces! I suspect you're hoping they'll be asking you to puppy sit again soon.

Meggie said...

I loved this post, being so weak about dogs. I am glad they loved you so much, it must have made them glad to have you as carer.