I obsess on dogs. Doesn’t matter the size of paws, the color of fur, length of the tail, volume of the bark, choice of toys or whether blue or brown eyes. Our largest dog was a German shepherd with a Schnauzer being our smallest. I entered the very small dog category a couple weeks ago. I was commissioned to care for Beanie, a dachshund and who knows what else rescue and Buzzy, a long-haired chihuahua. Their owner would be gone four days to a conference in Vancouver. I didn’t know her nor her dogs, but was delighted. Once retired, I had mulled over the idea of dog-sitting as a side job. I knew I would love it.
I met the owner on a late afternoon after she was done working. It was a lovely home. Wood floors and tile, a stone fireplace, granite counters – cozy. Not large, just cozy. Beanie, the four-year-old security officer met me at the door, just a few feet ahead of her owner. I know little dogs are adept at serious bites, but Beanie gave herself away with her wagging tail and a used, faded orange bunny in her mouth. The bunny’s eyes were gone and instead replaced with shreds of cloth. In fact, the entire bunny was a tattered mess. As for Buzzy, he was curled up in his small dog bed resting on the couch. Still asleep, she picked him up to introduce me. “Yeah, he’s eighteen years old,” the owner said. “Are you serious?” I replied. She curled him into her arms. “He’s deaf and blind but eats well and gets around pretty good. He follows Beanie.” I couldn’t believe it, an eighteen-year-old dog? I’d never been in the presence of one before Buzzy. I was honored. I reached to pet him, and he went into attack mode, aiming for my arm. How he knew my arm was extending toward him, I don’t know. Dog brilliance, I guess. “Don’t worry,” she said, “he doesn’t have any teeth.” That reassured me to some degree.
She showed me how to feed both dogs; a mixture of rice, peas, baked chicken with kibble mixed in for Beanie. Also, a drop of CBD in Buzzy’s meals. It must be working. They both ate fine. I was to feed them morning and night and walk them around the block if I had the chance. Of course, I spent at least two hours each time with them. I didn’t want them too lonely for their owner. I tossed Beanie’s stuffed animals and balls to retrieve, which pleased her. Buzzy continued to mistrust me. One evening, I decided to walk them. Their owner told me Buzzy didn’t need a leash, that he trails behind Beanie. I leashed Beanie and out the door we went, Buzzy jumping down the two steps easily. Beanie was known to charge toward large dogs, barking as if they better watch out. I wonder why small dogs do that. My husband calls them a chew toy, which wouldn’t be that off base.
Off we went down the sidewalk, turning left, a habit of Beanie, along with having to carry a ball in her mouth. They usually walked the block. It was a lovely fall day. Beanie was eager and took off with Buzzy close behind. He surprised me with his tiny legs moving so fast behind her. “Good boy, Buzz!” What I didn’t remember was the male dog habit. Buzzy liked to stop A LOT and smell the latest dog pee area along with Beanie’s. I felt like an owl rotating my head back and forth, checking behind on Buzzy and turning back in front with Beanie tugging on the leash. Every time Buzzy stopped to enjoy the aroma, he got confused, spinning in a circle, then going in the opposite direction. “Buzzy! Buzz, come here!” I clapped my hands. I kept yelling to him. Of course, he couldn’t hear me even though I sounded like a foghorn. I walked towards him to position him in the right direction, herding him like a cow. One unlucky time, it didn’t work. I picked him up and he squirmed in my arms, gnawing on one. Beanie was disgusted she had to wait and pulled the opposite direction, the correct one. I basically had to drag her to us. However, I got Buzzy forward again, thankful he was toothless. I looked at him chugging along behind us and thought, “poor baby,” and meant it. But he was as happy as a dog in a garbage can. We finally reached home, much to my relief. I vowed my husband would have to help me with the next excursion. He could walk Beanie and I’d herd Buzzy.
Despite it all, I loved caring for both dogs, especially when Buzzy finally let me scratch behind his ears. Recently, their owner called to ask if I would be able to watch them for a couple days while she was away.
“Of course,” I replied with no hesitation.