How NOT to Pet-Sit

My neighbor was going out of town over the weekend and asked if I would let her Chihuahua outside to potty the first day.

Her daughter would tend the dog afterward, but wouldn’t be available until dinnertime.

Enter me.

‘He won’t be any trouble,’ she assured me. ‘The backyard is fenced. Just open the door, shoo him out, watch to see he does what he’s supposed to do, then let him back in.’

Easy squeezy.

Now I’ve seen her walking this dog, but I’ve never “played” with him. I’ve been in the entryway of her house, but never really inside. So I was a bit apprehensive.

‘He knows you,’ she said. ‘I wouldn’t ask if I weren’t afraid he couldn’t hold it all day.’

Well, okay.

After my lunch, I bundled up and walked to her house, letting myself in as she’d shown me.

It’s kind of creepy going into somebody’s house when they’re not there (I don’t know how burglars do it!). She’d left the TV on to keep the dog company and set out a covered plate with a note asking me to give it to him.

Perfect — if I could catch him.

The little stinker started yapping as soon as he heard the door open. And he didn’t stop.

My Sheltie is “vocal,” so you’d think I’d be used to barking.

But this dog’s complaints really got on my nerves, fast. Probably because I was in a strange house and feeling the burden of responsibility.

I called to him in the “sweet” voice I use for my Sheltie.

Nothing. In fact, he raced out of the kitchen and into the living room, promptly setting up camp on the back of the sofa.

Taking the plate of food to lure him to a non-carpeted area, I called him again.

Nothing. This time, he charged toward the back of the house, barking like a lost soul.

What to do?

I tried calling him again. I begged, I promised I’d go outside with him, I told him his food looked yummy.

He wasn’t buying it.

Fearing he might take my leg off if I ventured into the recesses of his house, I set the food down, penned a note for the daughter describing what happened, and left.

Ah, failure. What a dismal feeling.

Looking back, we probably should have properly “introduced” me to the dog, on his own turf, before this fiasco. What do you think?

Things I Wish my Sheltie Knew

Memo to my Darling Doggie:

1) There’s no prize for beating me up or down the stairs. So you won — big deal. You also took a chance I’d step on you or cause us both to topple to the ground when you cut in front of me. In short: it wasn’t a race, okay?

2) I can use the bathroom by myself. Seriously. It’s unnecessary for you to follow me in there, to make sure I’m doing what I said I’d be doing. I’ve been doing things like this for years now, without your help, and while I appreciate your concern, it’s misplaced.

3) Lunchtime is for me, not you. As an “adult” dog, you’re supposed to get one meal per day. Because you’re so insistent, I’ve split that meal into two smaller servings, one at breakfast and the other at dinner. So when I eat at noon, I eat — not you. And stop that begging with your soulful eyes — you’re one tough customer to turn down!

4) The vacuum cleaner is not an assassin. Thank you for trying to protect me, but carpets need to be swept now and then. The “sweeper” isn’t attacking me just because it’s moving forth and back and making a roaring sound. And no, I won’t chase you all over the house with it!

5) There’s NO food in the backyard. I try to keep your “leavings” picked up, but I can’t prevent other animals (cats, squirrels, rabbits, etc.) from using the lawn as their bathroom. However, those leavings are not tasty morsels left outside for your dining pleasure. Besides, that’s just gross!

6) I don’t particularly like cutting your toenails and cleaning your ears. I do it because that’s one of the silent bargains I made when I took you into my home. Somebody would be responsible for doing for you what you couldn’t do for yourself. So be still and let me finish; this will go quicker and less painfully if you cooperate.

7) One bark is sufficient. When the doorbell rings, you really don’t have to bark a dozen times to let me know. I heard you the first time, and trust me, whoever’s there won’t simply go away! That goes for the annoying squirrel playing in our neighbor’s tree, too.

8) Suitcases don’t mean forever. I take you on trips when I can, but sometimes I can’t. Pulling out suitcases doesn’t mean I’m leaving forever, and it’s really not necessary for you to slink off into a corner and pout.

Love, Mom