I recently had occasion to look after the neighbor’s dog for a few days. Last summer, when the same neighbors spent almost 3 weeks in Europe, I bravely(and it seems foolishly) volunteered my pet-sitting services to them.
I’m still recovering from that episode so it was understandable that this latest pet-sitting venture was viewed with trepidation by Gill, my other two kids, The Man In My Life and, if I’m being truthful, the entire neighborhood. Everyone still remembers the ridiculous site of me, a 90 -pound woman, being dragged around the paths by a boisterous puppy that outweighed and out-muscled, and truth be known, outsmarted me.
Stories of my difficulties with the then rambunctious chocolate lab are legion. In fact, this past weekend, when these same neighbors (the subjects of my ‘death by strawberry plot’) came for a visit, they recounted how frenzied and almost crazed and wild-eyed I was at the end of that episode.
“We thought you’d gone over the deep end,” was their comment. “When you greeted us at the door, all we could see was piles of stuffing all over the floor — the innards of all the toys Hershey had destroyed…and we knew things had taken a bad turn. We were especially worried since you hadn’t even tried to pick up the mess. You were just glassy-eyed and defeated…”
But this time was different — sort of. It was only for three days and she is older and better trained. Slightly better. She still outweighs me but she has less desire, with the wisdom of age (12 months more ‘mature’), to drag me at breakneck speed through the underbrush to catch a squirrel.
The only glitch was that, just days before she was to arrive, I pulled a back muscle. I debated canceling but decided, by the first morning, that with the help of some Tylenol, I could manage. We just wouldn’t be going for long walks.
I quickly discovered that every time I walked her, she pulled my back. She wasn’t being willful, just her natural puppy self. My back clearly wasn’t as strong as I thought. Being crafty, I figured I’d borrow a nearby neighbor’s fenced yard to throw the dog’s Frisbee for her and wear her out that way. It was a great plan…but I first had to get her there. I ended up asking my house painters to walk the dog there for me. I also cajoled The Man In My Life into doing the same. He must really care about me since he’s a cat person and was a very good sport about it.
I did, however, not want to press my luck so I was the one to pick up her poop! Not only that, I wasn’t the least bit offended when My Man didn’t want me to hug him (with the poop bag still in my hand!) as a sincere gesture of my appreciation for his help. As I thought of it later, I guess hugging someone while they hold a steaming bag of dog shit out away from their body isn’t much of a turn-on.
But during the three days, the dog and I bonded. She became my co-conspirator, keeper of my secrets and she didn’t, although she had the power, snitch on me and my bad habits. A dog may not have the verbal skills necessary to snitch, but they have other ways of communicating — all sinister and devious. They’re almost as sneaky as kids.I’d forgotten what it was like when Gill lived with me and my cover was blown as far as the other two kids went. If I did something stupid or dangerous or just plain crazy, Gill snitched to the others. I took umbrage at that since I didn’t spill the beans on HER behavior.
Now the dog is the keeper of our ‘covert’ activities.
I often eat dinner in bed (fully dressed). This is all Crazy D’s fault since years ago, he tried to install a gizmo on the family room t.v. so I could watch extra things before the glory days of Netflix. Needless to say, it didn’t go well. When he finished ‘installing’ the gizmo, even he couldn’t figure out how to work it, nor could anyone else. So now I can’t even watch basic t.v. on that set. And I NEED my news fix with dinner. So Hershey stares at me: “Grandma, why are you eating without me? Where’s my dinner? Won’t you share with me? See how cute I am with my chin resting next to you on the bed…how can you resist this sad face?” It was just like my kids when they were little. And let’s not even mention the impossibility of ‘private’ bathroom time…
We had a little chat (de-programming session) before she left: “Now, remember Hershey, mum’s the word.You saw nothing. I never gave you cheese, I never bribed you with your biscuits,you never slept on the couches…and those potato chips on the deck? Never happened. If you blab, I become Donald Trump and it REALLY never happened. It’s all a lie. I’ll be on my own personal witch hunt. Just remember, it’s me or the kennel next time your parents go away. Think about that…your choice!”