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Tag: dog sitting

How a Australian journalist in New York became babysitter to an inmate’s dog

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When a man in a dirty overcoat stops you on the streets of New York, and begins opening up that overcoat to show you something, your best bet is to walk away quickly.

After all, it could be hot watches he’s trying to unload. He might be dealing drugs. Or maybe he wants to show you something else you really don’t want to see. Guns and body parts come to mind — or at least to the mind of a cynical type.

But journalists are also curious sorts. So when a man approached Jo Jarvis as she hailed a cab, she heard him out long enough to see what was behind his overcoat — a Yorkshire terrier named Tiny.

tinyThe man explained he was about to start serving a prison sentence and that he needed to someone to care for his dog, so he was trying to sell her for $100.

(Hang on now, don’t go judging him quite yet.)

Jarvis, a freelance journalist and meditation teacher from Australia who’s living in Brooklyn, admits that some darker possibilities were the first thing that went through her mind.

“I was immediately concerned. Was he running some sort of illegal puppy farm operation, or had he stolen the dog to make some money?”

Jarvis said she gave the man her phone number — her real number (we guess she is new to New York) — and told him to call the next day if he hadn’t found a new owner.

When he called the next day, Jarvis agreed to take Tiny, but only if she were free and he delivered her to her door.

Two hours later the man, named Jose, was in her kitchen. (Gotta be new to New York.)

jojarvis“It occurred to me that perhaps it wasn’t smart to allow someone about to go to jail in my place with the door closed. But strangely I felt very comfortable with Jose and I could see immediately how much he loved the little Yorkshire terrier whose name was Tiny,” Jarvis wrote in an article for News.com.au.

Jose explained to her that he was pleading guilty to a charge that would land him in Rikers Island.

He said it wouldn’t be his first visit there. But he assured her it would be his last.

Jarvis said she didn’t ask Jose what his crime had been.

“As Jose left he asked if he could ring when he got out to see if Tiny was OK. I assured him that was fine and that he could have her back at any time.

“So while Jose’s in Rikers Island, I’m Tiny’s dog sitter. Who knows if he’ll ever come for her. In the meantime, she has fallen on her little feet with her every need met in my Brooklyn loft.”

(Photos from News.com.au)

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.)

Back with the pack in Santa Fe

Meet my new posse.

For the next week, I’ll be serving as caretaker for:

Sophie, a gigantic, sweet and speckled nine-year-old great Pyrenees who recently had one of her front legs amputated due to bone cancer.

Charlie, an affable, seven-year-old golden retriever with a congenital respiratory disorder and a severe fear of thunderstorms.

Lakota, an 11-year-old bulldog with issues both behavioral and gastrointestinal. He’s prone to snapping (especially at Ace) and known far and wide for his frequent, most audible and highly pungent flatulence.

Then there’s Cleo: a five-year-old cat who has no issues, it seems. After hiding from Ace for two days – and what cat in her right mind wouldn’t? — she’s taken to approaching and nuzzling him, to Ace’s unending delight.

In exchange for looking after them, making sure they get their food, their meds and ample amounts of attention, I get to stay for a week in a lovely and peaceful home in Santa Fe, to my unending delight.

All four pets belong to a writer/editor and her veterinarian husband, who have gone to New York to attend a family reunion, leaving me with four animals (five counting Ace) and two pages of instructions.

What with all the medications, it’s a little complex, but I should have it all down about the time they come back. Sophie gets a pill to help deal with the effects of her chemotherapy treatment a couple of days ago. Charlie gets tranquilizers because afternoon thunderstorms tend to roll in almost daily. Lakota gets half a Rimadyl and some Beano with meals. He takes his meals in a separate room with the doors closed – in one of those bowls designed to slow down fast eaters — lest he get any ideas about snatching someone else’s.

It’s a five-water-bowl house, six counting Ace’s. Ace has adapted to the new pack. He seeks out Cleo, is amicable with Sophie and Charlie, but steers clear of Lakota, who has gone at him a few times.

The first time Ace laid him down with one paw. Two other times, Lakota jumped Ace, but, luckily, Lakota telegraphs his attacks, with an Elvis-like lip quiver first, and his bites are not too intense. I know this because the second time he went after Ace, I stuck my foot in between them. Generally, though, my “dog shouter*” (patent pending) techniques work to quell any misbehavior.

Sometimes, Lakota’s humongous tongue seems to get stuck outside his mouth, generally after he’s been napping (he snores, too), but when I touch it, it usually slides back in.

Sophie is easy to deal with, and has quickly adapted to being a three-legged dog. She was up and around the day after the surgery. But I have to be sure and immediately scoop her poop. Because of her chemotherapy treatment, her “output” will be toxic for the next couple of days, and both Charlie and Lakota tend to eat poop.

Charlie is the biggest attention seeker. He makes strange noises deep in his throat, like a two-pack-a-day smoker, because of respiratory problems and difficulty swallowing. “If it persists, and it seems like he’s choking, just hit his sides to help him clear up what’s in there,” my instructions say.

Lakota is described in the note this way:

“Can snap on occasion … If he starts to snarl at any of the others, yell ‘Hey!’ very loudly. If that doesn’t work distract him with food … In general, keep him apart from the others, especially when vying for your attention, in a close space or when food is nearby.”

It all requires some logistical forethought, some maneuvering, but after day one, it’s going smoothly. In the days ahead, I’ll keep you posted on how we all fare, and on our travels around dog-friendly Santa Fe.