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Confessions of a petsitter

I have not let a water bowl run dry. I have not missed administering a single dosage of doggie meds (more than I can say when it comes to my own). I have not left alone for more than three hours my wards for the week — Sophie the three-legged Pyrenees, Charlie the congested golden retriever, Lakota the flatulent bulldog.

My agreement to pet sit for friends in Santa Fe, in exchange for getting to enjoy their tranquil home (mountain views and wind chimage included), is working out well.

There may be a poop or two I haven’t scooped, some dog hair dust bunnies I haven’t swept up, some food and beverage consumed (by me) and not replaced, but all in all I give myself an A.

There have been no altercations — despite the snarls Lakota was directing at my dog Ace before his parents left. None of three dogs I’m taking care of require walks, content to use the backyard. There’s little actual work involved, other than feeding and medication time, which has gotten much easier since I decided to, rather than take the push down the throat route,  administer all pills — Lakota’s Beano included — inside hunks of Havarti cheese. As a result, all three dogs get very excited about pill time, as do I, for it is very good Havarti cheese. I may start putting my own medications inside Havarti cheese.

Sometimes all three dogs will start barking at nothing, but otherwise we’re enjoying the serenity of our temporary adobe abode — though, as I speak, a storm appears to be coming in, meaning I should go administer some Havarti-wrapped Alprazolam.

There has been only one scary moment, when I noticed Charlie had developed a swelling above his eye. I called Mark Terry, his owner — and a veterinarian — who suspected a bug bite and recommended a Benadryl. By the next day, the swelling was gone.

Lakota, the reputed troublemaker of the group, has caused none, though there was one moment when, waking up from one of his frequent droopy-tongued naps, he didn’t immediately recognize me and came at me barking and snarling. As soon as he heard me use his name, he calmed down. Lakota gets his meals in a separate room, with the doors closed. Generally, after about 30 seconds of trying to eat out of one of those dog bowls designed to slow down fast eaters, he flips the whole thing over and eats off the floor.

All three dogs are sweet in their own way. Charlie is the attention seeker, who approaches with his whole hind end wagging, spit strings (due to his respiratory condition) often hanging from his mouth. Sophie loves attention but, for now, prefers you bring it to her. When you do, her tail starts fiercely pounding the tile floor. Lakota, the most indecipherable, unpredictable and stubborn member of the pack, is a lover, too, though he keeps his soft side more hidden, behind an intimidating looking underbite. Rub his belly, though, and he’s putty in your hands.

Writer/editor Valerie Brooks brought Lakota to the marriage, while husband/veterinarian Mark Terry came with three pets of his own.

Both Sophie and Cleo were taken in by Mark after he met them while training to be a veterinarian. Cleo was the first cat he spayed. He ran into Sophie at a shelter just after his own dog died.

Sophie, who recently had one of her front legs amputated due to bone cancer, seems to have grown more frisky each day, and Cleo, the cat is no trouble at all, though once in a while she seems to be trying to tell me something, even when her bowl is full and her litter box is empty. Ace, now that she’s no longer hiding from him, is less enthralled with her.

Ace has bonded with two of the dogs and the cat, but he’s still steering clear of Lakota, even though he’s three times the bulldog’s size. Every evening Ace and I head to the dog park, less than a mile down the road, then out to dinner at one of Santa Fe’s dog-friendly restaurants. Our report on them is forthcoming.

All in all, it has been a peaceful few days. We’ve gotten to stroll the streets downtown, hang out and listen to music in the plaza and, today, are headed to 10,000 Waves, a popular mountainside spa (for humans) that welcomes dogs. I plan to sample the baths, and I have an interview with somebody named Buddha Bob. If he gives me any trouble, I’ll just rub his belly.

(To read all of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing adventures of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America, click here.)

Comments

Comment from following jw and ace
Time July 15, 2010 at 12:00 pm

jw we’re so jealous on the east coast. keep having fun you two!

Comment from Anonymous
Time July 15, 2010 at 11:01 pm

I’ve always wanted to visit Ten Thousand Waves. It would be even better to visit with my dog. I’ll be looking forward to your forthcoming post!

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