Ace and I had a visitor over the holidays — a highly vocal, but not too demanding 12-year-old mutt named Gracie.
My cousin and her husband in Charlotte were headed off on a cruise and they were having problems finding a petsitter for Gracie, who has never been kenneled. So I volunteered.
It wasn’t my first adventure in petsitting. I’d had a handful of canine guests in my home in Baltimore, and served as wrangler for three more while housesitting in Santa Fe. I’d learned, both times, that most issues that come up can be easily worked out, usually by the dogs themselves.
I decided they should eat in separate areas, just to be safe, so I’d fill one bowl, and call one dog. Both, because their names rhymed, came. When I said “stay,” both stayed. When I attached their names to the commands – ”Ace stay, Grace come” — that didn’t work either.
Finally, I got one to the porch, and fed the other inside, confusing them both in the process.
On day two, Gracie stopped eating entirely. Even blobs of liverwurst — in which her pills get hidden — had no appeal to her. Wanting her to get at least a little nutrition, I smeared peanut butter on her nose and let her lick it off.
Eventually, I broke out the most special of my special dog treats, and after a good sniffing, she decided to try one. On day three, she was eating normally again, and I’d figured out that feeding them both at the same time in the same place worked best.
By the second day, I’d noticed Gracie, who spent the first night on an extra dog bed, was eyeing mine. It’s only a foot off the ground, but she just stood by it, put her head on it and looked at it longingly. Being old and arthritic — her, not me – I gave her a boost and she spent almost the whole day there.
I worried that Ace, who likes my bed too, would take offense at her occupation of it, but, once I told him it was OK, he just jumped in and joined her.
If they were positioned right, there was plenty of room for both. With only minor repositioning, I could fit in, too.
For walks, I’d take them both on a short one, then give Ace a longer one. That seemed to suit them fine.
What I never totally figured out was Gracie’s whining/singing. She whines when she’s happy, she whines when she’s not. She whines when she wants something. She whines, I think, when she wants nothing at all, except maybe to hear her own voice.
Ace, puzzled by that behavior, quickly got used to it. At first, he’d rush to her side, but eventually — as I kept saying, “What is it, girl, what do you want?” — she became background music to him.
Just about every worry I had, when it came to the two of them, turned out to not be worth worrying about. As long as I supplied the food, water, walks and love, they’d easily figure out the rest — the less help from me, the better.
It’s us humans who make things complicated.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 8th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, attention, beds, behavior, complications, dog, dogs, elderly, feeding, grace, gracie, guest, humans, old, pet sitting, pets, petsitting, visitor, walks, whining, worries
I’ve seen my last sunset in Santa Fe and, after an idyllic ten days, Ace and I are headed east — first to Oklahoma to visit another ex, my ex cat.
My stint as a petsitter went well, but with a sour note at the end. After the owners of Sophie, Charlie and Lakota got home, Lakota and Ace went at it, only for a second or two, but enough to leave Lakota with blood coming from his eye.
We should have seen it coming. Lakota’s mom was giving Ace some attention — too much attention in Lakota’s view. The bulldog lashed out at Ace; Ace lashed back, and either bit or clawed Lakota in the eye.
Lakota’s veterinarian dad looked it over and was pretty certain it was just the eyelid that was injured, but he was taking him to get checked out by a specialist just the same.
Ace and Lakota, while there was some growling on the first day, had seemed to have gotten to the point of tolerating each other. Lakota didn’t seem to mind if I was lavishing attention on Ace, or Sophie, or Charlie. Then again, I was just the petsitter.
After ten days without mom, I guess Lakota wasn’t willing to share her once she returned.
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.
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.)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 15th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace does america, babysitting, bulldog, care, caretaker, cat, charlie, cleo, dog sitting, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, dogsitting, feeding, food, golden retriever, lakota, medications, ohmidog!, pets, petsitting, pyrenees, road trip, santa fe, sophie, travel, traveling with dogs
A couple agrees to care for a friend’s Chihuahua for the weekend.
The dog’s owner doesn’t pick her up when the weekend’s over; in fact, she doesn’t try to reclaim the Chihuahua, named Lola, for 10 months.
What’s the couple who cared for the dog owed?
According to the Nebraska Court of Appeals — the third court to hear the case — absolutely nothing.
The saga of Lola, a four-pound, black-and-tan Chihuahua, began Aug. 22, 2007, when Heather Linville of Lincoln asked her friends Travis Derr and Natasha Combs to care for her dog for the weekend, according to the Omaha World-Herald. Linville’s new apartment complex didn’t allow dogs, and she explained she needed time to make arrangements for her pet.
When, 10 months later, Linville asked to get Lola back, Derr and Combs said they wanted to keep the dog.
Linville summoned police, and the dog was returned to her, but Derr and Combs filed a small-claims court case, asking to be paid $2,700 for boarding the animal for 320 days.
A Lancaster County judge ruled in favor of Derr and Combs, a decision later upheld by a district judge. But the appeals court overturned the $2,700 judgment in a 3-0 ruling — proving, in my view, three heads aren’t better than one. What Lola’s owner did sounds to me like abandonment, pure and simple.
The court said Derr and Combs did not ask for compensation when they agreed to keep the dog for the weekend. They should have notified Linville if they were no longer willing to keep Lola for free, the panel said. The court said the couple was entitled only to reimbursement for a $152.98 veterinarian’s bill.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 4th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, abandonment, animal law, animals, appeals court, case, chihuahua, courts, custody, dispute, dog, dogs, friends, heather linville, lancaster county, law, legal, lola, natasha combs, nebraska, ownership, pets, petsitting, ruling, travis derr
An Onslow County, N.C. couple appeared in court Tuesday to face charges of child abuse after a dog they were pet-sitting chewed the toes off the left foot of their four-month-old son.
The child is reported in stable condition.
Robie Lynn Jenkins, 20, and Tremayne Spillman, 23, were asleep in their Jacksonville home when the dog, described in news reports as a pit bull, attacked the child.
Authorities say Jenkins was on medication and didn’t hear the attack, which occurred in the same room while the baby was sleeping on a fold-out couch. Jenkins was sleeping in another room and didn’t hear the child crying.
Posted by jwoestendiek September 2nd, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: attack, charges, chewed, child abuse, dog, dogs, foot, infant, jacksonville, north carolina, petsitting, pett-sitting, pit bull, robie jenkins, toes, tremayne spillman