Dog Days of Summer

I just googled this to find out what it really means as the phrase has become relevant to our current situation. As I type this, I’m watching a large, hairy, German Shepard lounging across my pleather love seat, chewing on her leg.

Ms. Naughty Pants, not her real name, is staying with us for two weeks. She has 11 nights left to be exact. She has by far been the most trying dog we’ve watched so far as part of our new pet sitting business. While her ears are the biggest part of her body, she doesn’t use them for listening. They are more for show, perched on the top of her head, always swiveling.

Physically, she reminds me of someone who may have a drug problem; thin, always scratching, and kind of anxious and jumpy, sometimes leaping off the ground several feet in the air to avoid a rock or a wrapper on the sidewalk. When I tell her to do something she doesn’t want to do, like to get off my bed or stop chewing on my daughter’s head, she talks back to me. Argues, really. The first time she did this, I responded. Like engaging a teenager who is trying to reason with me about why she should have an extra half hour on her phone. She would debate with me, at times matching my tone, and other times, escalating the argument by yelping at me or sending me a low growl. Now, I just give her “the look” and she usually turns around and storms off, only to return moments later to start all over again.

She is constantly trying to escape from my home and she tracks my daughter like a large rabbit she is trying to take out. When the kids are getting ready for school or for bed, or eating dinner, I have to tie her up in the kitchen so they can have a few moments to collect themselves. When she is tied up, her personality changes. She relaxes, stretches out across the floor and stares at us quietly as we move around. It’s almost like having the run of my tiny house boggles her mind. I really hope she settles in soon, otherwise it is going to be a long two weeks.

A few months ago, I learned about this business from a coworker. Kind of like a dog (and cat) bed and breakfast. The idea was appealing. I had run up several thousand dollars in veterinary bills trying to save our Whippet and since we have been living pretty much paycheck to paycheck, I haven’t had any extra money to put towards bills beyond the minimum monthly payment. Taking care of other people’s dogs while they are traveling seemed like a fitting way to restore our finances.

So here we are. My son, who loves most animals without thinking, and my daughter, who fears most animals other than bugs and worms, promoting ourselves on the website as a one-dog family who treats our customers’ pets as if they are our own.

We’ve been pretty lucky so far, even with Ms. Naughty Pants, and after a day or two, our guest usually fits right in. We send tons of pictures and updates via the website so the dog’s family can see what they are doing during his or her stay. When it is time for him or her to leave, we have already grown attached and I feel a little anxious when I realize we may never see each dog again. All of the owners we’ve met have been exceptionally nice as well.

I am currently thinking through creative ways to attract more clients so we can keep a somewhat steady stream of guests. I’m thrilled that we happen to have a great yard and not very fancy furnishings. And since the large, illegal marijuana grow next door shut down this month, we no longer have guard pitbulls chained to the front of our neighbor’s house, which have be distracting for our canine guests. But that is another story for another time….


Thankful Thursday: A Microblog

It is 1:00 pm and I find myself ridiculously happy, waiting to go pick up my son for his orthodontist appointment. The stress surrounding my son and his school and my dying dog has briefly relocated to my back burner. Before noon today, I had discovered the following:

  1. Upon Googling “Is popcorn fattening?” I learned that when cooked at home from seed kernels, with no crappy toppings, it can be a healthier snack than fruits or vegetables. Ha!
  2. A fabulous lipstick that is super moisturizing and under $10. And I paid for it with a giftcard.
  3. A pill pocket that my dog won’t dissect to remove the pill before gobbling up the pocket.
  4. My daughter’s favorite hot pink cow(girl) boots on sale in the next size up with free shipping.

It’s the little things…


Whippets and Subarus: The Challenges of Fragility

This week was an intense week for every thing with moving parts in our family. It started with our dog, Smoke. Smoke is a Whippet. This makes her possibly the most nervous and fragile being I have ever come across. I mean, it couldn’t be that she lives in a home with two rambunctious tiny trolls who are continually fascinated by her. One tiny troll draws her pictures and tapes them to her crate, while the other uses a toy stethoscope to listen to her delicate heart regularly.

Smokes spends the greater part of her days trembling in the furthest corner of her crate, with a permanently worried countenance as she surveys every move in our laundry room (unfortunately she “missed” the burglar who spent some time with her in the laundry room two summers ago as he emptied my laundry basket so he could fill it up with household goodies). Smoke has been a little under the weather lately. She spends about 23 hours, rather than her normal 22 hours, curled up or stretched out in deep sleep (with one eye open, trembling) either in her crate or in the back yard. She has been pooping in the house during the night, and now has even taken to pooping in her crate during the day while I’m at work. Needless to say, I was concerned and took her to the vet last weekend. I learned that she had a serious bacterial infection which had pretty much taken over her fragile body and she required antibiotics and probiotics (looking at these words spelled out, I feel as if they must cancel each other out). The vet was able to prescribe perhaps the most horrible tasting antibiotics known and as usual, in a friendly, confident voice, advised me to wrap them in something Smoke likes to eat. Yeah. Roger that. That is a no-go, Ms. Veterinarian.

I spent the first four days of this regimen, twice a day, getting my hands bit up by razor-sharp Whippet teeth as I tried to place the pill in the back of her throat. Fortunately, my co-worker rescued me with a pill popper that he used on his cats. Coincidentally, this is the same co-worker that almost lost his sh*t listening to my tirade about reserving cars last week. I’m pretty sure he was trying to prevent me from having a psychotic break with his pill popper offering. After a trial run, the popper worked like a charm.

Meanwhile, my lame Subaru (I worship it in the winter months, and curse it the rest of the year), incurred another $300 of repairs after having its dumb engine rebuilt (for $7000) last summer. I argued with a feisty service person over the phone all day Monday. His name was Fred. I encountered Fred in my dealings at the shop last summer but didn’t have to work with him. This time I did. He was loud, arrogant, argumentative and talked really fast. When I asked him to repeat things, he would slow down and talk louder, enunciating every syllable as if I was hard of hearing. He “graciously” “warrantied out” a few items that needed to be replaced after I pressed him about what did I really spend $7000 on last summer. He shocked and awed me with fancy car terminology, trying to make me think that engine coils, engine wires and spark plugs were not part of the engine in the car and therefore should not be covered under the warranty for the rebuilt engine. I don’t know a thing about cars (my brother Erik was on speed dial that day) but I was willing to bet that these parts were involved with the engine somehow so I went all in on the argument. The car is running now, but I’m looking at Ford, Chevy and Jeep for my next car. And doing my best to avoid Fred until that happens.

Wow. I’ve just used nearly 700 words reliving my broken dog and car experiences. I haven’t even gotten to the doctor appointments for the humans in the family. These incidents will have to wait until the next time, but mark my words, the entertainment continues.

SmokeySmokey snoozing in the backyard, with one ear up to monitor troll activity