I recently did some dog sitting for a friend (and her dog) while she (the person) was away for 11 days.
I don’t currently have a dog. We had dogs when I was growing up, and I know and love them. I know this dog, Dixie, reasonably well. Say hi to Dixie:
My task was simple: feed, walk and play with Dixie, returning her to my friend in reasonable condition. I did that. Truth to tell, she was smellier and more rumpled, but no one seemed to mind that very much, least of all the dog.
Taking care of a dog, I quickly remembered, is work. But my week and a half with Dixie reminded me of some things that seem important to share for those of you who don’t own dogs.
One: Regular walks during the day make all of us feel much happier and peppier.
I am not a morning person. But once I got out the door with Dixie, it was so nice to be outside. Admittedly, I wasn’t as excited as she was, but I enjoyed both her enthusiasm and my first-thing-in-the-morning movement.
Two: Walking in rain or sleet or snow is not the end of the world.
Of course we had wet and icy and snowy evenings (it’s always the evening, isn’t it) while Dixie was visiting. An you can’t negotiate with a dog over going out in bad weather. So out we went. She didn’t seem to mind at all, which lifted my spirits and reminded me that being outside can be its own reward.
Three: Snuggling on the sofa with a softly snoring sentient creature is delicious.
I’d spent time with Dixie at my friend’s house, but she (the dog) tended to prefer her owner when she wanted to snuggle and sleep (understandably so). But dogs are very practical animals, so in the course of making use of any port in a storm, Dixie would snuggle with me when I was on the sofa reading or watching TV. She rested her snout on my foot or leg and logged some zzzs. This configuration was mutually very satisfying.
Four: Sometimes I just want to be alone, but dogs don’t usually share or respect this feeling.
The hardest thing about dog sitting wasn’t the walking or poop retrieval. Rather, it was having another being in the house who didn’t understand the concept of “I’ll play with you later”. If I was talking( albeit to my computer screen), Dixie thought approaching me with her seasonal new turkey squeaky toy was perfectly acceptable. I’ve heard similar reports from other dog owners. The lack of alone time (I know, it sounds absurd, but there it is) was the hardest thing about her visit.
There is not one perfect solution for people who love animals. I don’t know what arrangement will work for me. But Dixie was a good dog and a good teacher who I’ll definitely be seeing at my house again for more life lessons.
I’ll be working on my squeaky toy throwing arm in the meantime.
Readers, what have and do you learn from your dogs or other peoples’ dogs? What do I have to look forward to? I’d love to hear from you.