If Hurricane Sandy didn’t provide enough of a whirlwind to our home and property recently; we had the pleasure of dog sitting this past weekend to remind us that the Tasmanian Devils are alive and well!
Dog sitting is probably the one job in life I’m really qualified to hold since during my childhood growing up in a somewhat rural town, our parents raised Black Labs in a kennel they ran out of our house. The dogs lived in the house full-time creating a lot of interesting stories, which I hope to share in later blog posts. Therefore, I’m used to having as many as seven full-grown dogs just hanging round the house at a given time. It’s apparent though after years of owning just one dog, that I’ve totally forgotten the insanity which can ensue when you drop another retriever into the family dynamic.
Friends of ours had to travel out-of-town for a wedding this past weekend and we offered to take care of their Black Labrador for the night. All indications were that this would be a routine event and in fact fun diversion for our Chocolate Lab, Hudson (who, by the way, has her own column on this blog – Hudson’s View).
The event actually started pretty simply the day before the actual “sleepover,” when the owners dropped by for a fam-trip (those in the travel industry know this is a familiarity trip) to intro the dogs to each other. A brief visit, but all indications were that this slumber party would work.
On Saturday, I went to retrieve (ha-ha) the dog at the friend’s house, collecting bed, food, snacks and a leash. Power had still been out in their neighborhood, so I was feeling good about having the pup over to sleep in our warm house. “Guest Dog,” as I called her, happily jumped in the car, but on the way to our house started to occasionally scratch the door beneath the window either signaling “Hey, roll down the window dude,” or suddenly wondering why she got in the car with this guy listening to country music. We’d been told that the dog had some medical issues of late, so assumed that she would be a bit lethargic while hanging at Greene House Kennel 2.0.
Once out of the car, Guest Dog made a miraculous recovery! We let our dog Hudson out of the house and as they say at the Kentucky Derby – “They’re Off!”
The opening symbol of friendship for these two was a mutual “barnyard point,” as my parents used to say – which resembles a bird dog pointing at a game bird like a pheasant, but unfortunately, the real action is going on behind the dog. Pounds lighter and seemingly energized, there was a mad run around the lawn with a visual similar to a pack of wild horses you see in those western movies, a school of fish, or two dogs running side by side like they were crazy-glued together. This went on for several minutes as did the requisite “tail check” to complete the hello and serve as a “welcome to the neighborhood.”
We brought the hounds into the house for a time period, hoping they would settle – a dumbly optimistic view that we would see some college football that afternoon. I chuckled as Guest Dog kept heading to the door and whining. Thinking she was just missing her family, little did I know that we were taking care of a 50+ year old man who needed to head to the loo every half-hour. No big mind really as Hudson trailed along for these ongoing visits and took advantage of the opportunity if you get my drift.
Later in the afternoon, sensing an impatience as the pooches started circling and barking at each other, I decided it was time for exercise. I took two rubber balls out (yeah I’ve been down this road before, you need two), and threw a ball to each of them repeatedly. As predicted, they would switch off as our lazy Hudson would take the ball closest to her while Guest Dog would grab whatever came her way and come back to me (like a real retriever should). After about 20 minutes of this activity, it sounded like an emphysema ward in my backyard. If it weren’t for generator sounds in the neighborhood, I’d expect calls saying, “What’s happening at your house, do you need us to call 911 for you?” Let’s face it, even if you do the 7/1 dog-years math; these pups aren’t very old, but they were way out of breath! Dragging the patients back inside, I spent the next few minutes repeatedly filling bowls of water as if these two had just come in from a trek in the Sahara. Once finished, you guessed it…the 50-year-old had to head out again as nature was calling…apparently on speed dial. When we arrived back in the house all purged, the wolf pack settled into an afternoon of college football and a nap – both me and the dogs. Thank goodness!
Dinner time was hilarious as I knew we had to feed them in two different rooms. Hudson of course ate hers in about four bites. Guest Dog, who by the way, we were told would only eat a little bit until she was full, and probably would leave food in the bowl, ate like she was headed to the electric chair in the morning. Then, once finished, you guessed it, looked at me, then at the door – back outside!
They then chilled for the evening, but there was a moment where we thought we saw Hudson looking at us wondering whether Guest Dog was her replacement due to previous wrong-doings, but a few head pats hopefully cured that fear.
Sleeping overnight oddly came off without a hitch, as each went to their respective corners (either side of our bed), and we think went right to sleep. However, daylight savings time wasn’t all it was cracked up to be as Guest Dog was up early in the morning and of course Hudson had to follow. Found myself watching old movies at 7am, so much for an extra hour of sleep!
We repeated the ball activity Sunday morning, and they hung out until Guest Dog’s owners came to pick her up that afternoon. It was a smooth handoff (think both were happy to get a chance to finally snooze at their own homes), and I had Guest Dog’s owners sign a release for this blog post.
Double Dog Dare Ya – things I learned, or maybe re-learned this weekend:
- Having two dogs means you need two of everything – balls, food bowls, snacks (hand them out simultaneously). The best moment was finding a rawhide bone which Hudson wanted nothing to do with for months until Guest Dog started in on it – then she of course had to have her own. Guest Dog was kind enough to split it in half to share.
- Sitting still is not an option. Once you get settled, they’ll try to make eye contact with you angling either to go out to play or to the bathroom. Bad news is with a Guest Dog, you’re not sure which sad look you are getting…so it’s out of the chair every time. Hope this counts as exercise for me.
- Random, Tasmanian Devil – type moments will happen in the smallest of rooms where the dogs will wrestle each other, making good use of the furniture and most likely your lap during the chase. Men, I suggest wearing a cup!
- Balls, rubber rings, play toys, bones will all be dropped at your feet with the dogs staring at them or at you looking for game – in the dog world, that’s called a subtle hint.
- Dogs love sleepovers, and at least from Hudson’s perspective are sad when their friend leaves…even though she’s clearly exhausted
Our Two Dog Night was quite the experience, and we had a ball with Guest Dog, but most of all, we can’t wait until the next sleepover!