I am not a Catholic so I have never believed in purgatory — until now.
Some of my dearest friends asked me to dog- and house-sit while they took a week off at the beach with extended family. I had done it before for their old, small dogs. No problem, right?
I called the dog the size of a Shetland pony my “angel dog.” Then there was the puppy — in energy, not size — that I called my “juvenile delinquent,” and grandmother’s dog, who was determined to find a way under the fence to get to her mommy in Florida. She was my “prisoner.”
On Friday night, instruction night, the dogs dutifully responded and obeyed their owners. By the time the instructions were over, my eyes had glassed over and I was sinking in despair. I suggested writing down some reminders for my 63-year-old brain.
Saturday arrived. Upon arriving, I found my “reminder list” — four typed pages. I liberated the dogs from their kennels and the adventure began. They jumped all over me with joy. When the owners said “No,” they got down. When I said “No,” they smiled and jumped higher!
Five minutes later, I looked outside, and the puppy had dug a mud hole. I screamed “No!” and she ran for the doggie-door. I blocked it with a chair and tried to catch my breath and one errant puppy.
“Inside,” I said, hoping to nab her collar and hose her off. She ran through my legs, around the kitchen and then the living room, over the Persian rug, on the furniture and all over me. We’re talking mud clumps everywhere except the ceiling fan.
I dragged her to the hose and gave her a serious rinse. We went in and I checked the time. In 30 minutes, we had broken all four pages of rules.
I cleaned like a maniac and changed clothes, and sat down on the couch. Immediately, two dogs plopped down on the other couch. “Get down.” They smiled and curled deeper into the warmth of the cushions. I shooed them off. I sat down, and they jumped up again. We repeated this meaningless exercise five times.
I texted my friend: “I quit or I am fired. Have broken all rules in 30 minutes.”
Response? “Smiley face.”
Day two: Grandmother’s dog, my “prisoner,” and I went out and she found a way out of the yard through the mud by the pool pump. Since she does not choose to hear “No,” our future outside trips were on her leash. I locked the doggie door for the week. This required many trips out for all of us.
Every day was an adventure.
“Angel dog” was no problem unless you count eating dead worms and coming inside to barf — on the Persian rug. While dashing to get vinegar and a rag and forbidding myself to add to her contribution, “Juvenile Delinquent” did her one redeeming act of the week — she ate it all before I got back. Sorry, I know you’re probably reading this before breakfast, but it’s true.
Space won’t permit me to share all adventures, like New Year’s Eve and breakfast the next two days of spent fireworks or … My daily mantra became: “You are doing this for love, Dale, you are doing this for love.”
When it was all over, we were still friends, except maybe Grandmother’s dog — she may need therapy.
On the last day, I kenneled everyone so I could vacuum and mop and decontaminate the couches and hide at least some of the evidence. As I locked the door and let out a huge sigh, I made a resolution: “Future jobs limited to one old dog.”
On the plus side, I lost six pounds in my dog chases and subsequent worrying. But I aged 10 years — that’s 70 in dog years.
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