Dog sitting, chasing and bread Frisbee
By MIMI BECKER
Our daughter called. She was caught in a sibling quandary. The tone in her voice alerted me to the need for some sort of action.
In a moment of weakness explainable only by her devotion to her brother, she had agreed to dog sit for the weekend — out of state. Well, it is just across the border, but it seemed like another universe. There would be no friends to distract her, no job duties to break up the day. She would be stuck in the house with the dogs; multiple dogs.
This tale has logical origins. Apples, and nuts, don’t fall far from the tree.
Our son was destined to marry a nice young woman he met at school. Over time, we learned our future daughter-in-law was a dog lover.
We gave her a little dog statue for a graduation present. It was meant to sit on the porch to welcome visitors to her apartment. It had a welcome sign hanging around its neck. It was meant to be a kind of joke as she lived in an apartment and a dog wasn’t really appropriate. We should have known better.
Before the wedding, a dog was acquired. No problem, really. The dog was going to be a good size in the end, but was quite ladylike and well behaved.
Then the wheels came off the wagon. Our daughter — the same one who was currently involved in the dog sitting commitment — fell in love with a puppy. We were in no position to bring another dog into our house. She convinced her brother to take the puppy. It would be a large dog at full size and incorrigible. Dog No. 2.
The next acquisition involved, as most of them do, a pitiful story about abandonment and animal control threats and whatever else people throw out to produce guilt in dog lovers. This addition was cute, of course. Again, it would grow to be of quite large proportions.
So, there it is. Three large, muscular and active canines, one very nice sister and a mom who felt somewhat guilty as she had provided the genes to engender a good part of the situation.
OK, sure, I’ll give up my first free weekend in months. I’ll go with you to mind the pack.
There are reasons why my own newly acquired pup is smaller than those we had in years past. We went after smaller dogs, and got really small in the end. A blessing in disguise.
The first task when we arrived at our son’s home was to let the dogs out of the basement into their fenced-in business place. The tricky part is that there is an unfenced gap in the path from the door to the run. Dogs No. 1 and 2, while a bit of work, were safely transferred the short distance.
Dog No. 3 slipped her collar and leash and headed for the hills, literally. I was not dressed for this as I had left directly from work to go on the sitting mission. Here we were, two virtual strangers to the animal, attempting to catch her, get a collar on her and get her back to the house.
I was becoming frantic, as well as frustrated. We chased her through yards, across streets, up muddy embankments, down into ditches. We had no leverage. I did find a full loaf of bread on the road which must have fallen out of someone’s groceries. Possibly I could lure her with the promise of food. The dog was smarter than that. Freedom and adventure were much more enticing than whole wheat bread. But, there I was calling her and tossing slices of frisbee bread in her direction — a ridiculous picture.
Finally, a young couple spied us, and offered assistance. I was skeptical, but not stupid. Maybe different strangers could pull off the trick and they were younger and more appropriately dressed for dog chasing.
Miraculously, the dog responded to the young man, stopped long enough for him to approach and put the leash back on. As it turns out, the couple were owners of two dogs themselves; dogs even bigger than this one and really not well behaved. They had a harness which they lent us. It’s the only way they can handle their own pair.
I was contemplating the logic of paying to board the creatures, but the mother instinct ruled. I had created dog lovers and helpful sisters and I was stuck with their choices. I had aided and abetted their behavior. I was complicit and I had to accept responsibility.
Surely, I could figure out a system to handle the tasks.
The nice thing about kids making their own choices is they also can solve problems if we let them. My daughter took control of the dog-to-the-pen job, developed a plan and with only one small snag early on, we made it through the weekend with all three dogs present and accounted for.
This week she is minding her sister’s two rambunctious dogs, in state, and on her own. All is well.
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