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 was quietly enjoying my new nest the other day when a visitor landed on it.
This bird hit the window screen with a bit of a bang, but didn’t bounce off. Instead, it held on, clinging to the side of my apartment and looking in.
It didn’t appear stuck, injured, or even dazed, as Ace and I, from the other side of the window, walked right up to it. It wasn’t disturbed when I took a few pictures. It just clung there, sideways, looking inside — as if slapping into my window wasn’t an accident, but exactly what it planned to do.
For a moment, I wondered whether it was Jehovah’s Witness bird, there to chirp a bit about the Lord and hand me a pamphlet I could read at my convenience after it left. Or that it was going to try and sell me some magazine subscriptions to help it get through bird college.
Neither subject came up though, and a couple of minutes after it adhered itself to my front window, it left.
It’s a good thing I screen my visitors.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 29th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: america, animals, bird, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, nest, pets, photography, road trip, screen, travels with ace, visitor, wildlife, window
Finally, some good press.
Ace got a nice mention — and I didn’t fare too badly, either — in our friend Susan Adcock’s “Carny Dog” blog last week.
We had the pleasure of meeting Susan, a long-time ohmidog! reader, and her pit mix, Stella, when they came to Baltimore from Nashville last week — a pilgrimage prompted by the last request of a carnival worker named Barney, who Susan befriended as a photographer.
After Susan spread Barney’s ashes on the grave of his mother, we met up at Riverside Park, stopped to hydrate with the dogs at a neighborhood bar and went out to eat.
Among Susan’s kindly notations on my dog and me: ”…It didn’t take long to realize that the two of them were as much a part of the neighborhood as the park itself. Everyone from homeless guys to moms pulling wagon-loads of kids knew them well enough to stop and talk, and they did. Humans called out to Ace from a distance.” Ace, she noted, was “one of the more well-adjusted dogs we’ve encountered.”
She was also impressed with our impromptu dessert. We stopped at the house of some friends on our way back for some leftover birthday cake. “It is a true friend who will let a man show up with a complete stranger, at nine-thirty at night for dessert,” Susan wrote.
On that point, I couldn’t agree more.
I think, for Susan, it was love at first sight — for the city, I mean. I think she saw in Baltimore what I see in it: its curiously appealing grittiness, its near total lack of pretentions, its quirkiness, its deeply etched character, and characters — some as shiny and polished as the Inner Harbor, some as rough-edged and splintered as a ratty working wharf.
Having just pulled out Friday, I miss it already.
I think Susan does too. “Seriously,” she wrote, “it made me want to move.”
(Photo: Ace, Stella and me, by Susan Adcock)
Posted by jwoestendiek September 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, baltimore, barney, carnival, carnival workers, carny dog, carnys, dog's country, dogs, john, ohmidog!, pets, road trip, stella, susan adcock, travel, travels with ace, visit, visitor