Without being paranoid, I even have a hard time trusting someone to dog sit. I remember years ago, I was going with my daughters to some Caribbean islands for Spring Break, and had hired someone to take care of Douchka, our German shepherd. The lady came to the house, met with me, and Douchka. She was working for a pet sitting company and I had checked the references, so everything was good, right?
I did not even have time to drop my suitcase in our hotel room in Grand Cayman that the phone rang. It was my dog sitter asking me what to do. She opened the front door, and Douchka ran away.
“Did not I explain to you lady that you should enter by the garage, close the garage door, and then enter the house?”
“Yes, yes, but I was in a rush…. What do you want me to do?”
“GO FIND MY DARN DOG!”
Thank God, Douchka was much smarter that the dog sitter, and after causing us such a fright (like a message to me, that will serve you to leave me behind!), she came back, and was waiting at the front door when the dog sitter came back.
Douchka was a funny one. Each time we were coming back from a trip, she was greeting me like crazy, then was stopping talking to me for a few days, I mean, totally ignoring me!
I had a very good friend who used to dog sit my pack: a friend, a vet tech, and loving my crew, but she passed a few years ago, and since then, I have to acknowledge that I stopped taking any kind of vacation. If one day I start again, I might just do like Sandra Bullock, and buy a bus to get my whole crew packed in! I have only 7. She has 13!
I do have a girlfriend who does dog sitting at her place, but here too, I would not trust her. You see, she doesn’t follow directions. She does believe that she knows better that the dog parent what the dog needs. She walks dogs off leash in the woods surrounding her house even if you are adamant about the leash thing. She is lucky: up to now, all the dogs who ran away came back, but here too, it’s an accident meant to happen.
So, I just scratched from my list the dog sitter thingy! What about boyfriend? You see in the news those horrific stories about boyfriends killing girlfriends’ dogs or hurting them.
I scratched the living boyfriend from my list years ago. My girls were teenagers at that time, and he had a dog, a Labrador retriever, the one who made me become a lab addict. So everything was good, right? At that time, I had Douchka, my shepherd and Pouch, a Golden retriever. Douchka was already around 8 or 9 at that time.
And we lived together. Every evening, Douchka was the only one waiting for me when I was coming back from work, no matter how late it was. She was my girl. She was also my daughters’ babysitter, best one ever. She was so protective of them, and got so frustrated when the girls got older and started to ride their bikes!
With old age came aches and pains in Douchka’s life. She had arthritis in her hips, in her knees. Yes, medications helped up to a point. It just breaks my heart when they start to slow down.
In December of that year, Douchka was treated for a kidney infection. She had some blood in her urine. Despite of the antibiotics, there was still blood, and she was prescribed another type of antibiotics. One day, Jessica came to me and told me Douchka peed a few drops of urine with blood in her bedroom deliberately. This was not my dog, and this episode broke my heart. Did she think I was to thick to understand that something was going on?
Within an hour, I was at the vet, and X-rays showed a growth in her bladder. The next day, she had an ultrasound showing a tumor, and by that time she could not urinate because of that tumor. I still remember her face after the ultrasound: she knew. She looked at me and I saw in her eyes that she wanted to go.
I went back home, got my two daughters and we went to our vet, the three of us like always. The boyfriend asked if he could come, and I said no. He seemed relieved.
Letting her go was also for my daughters letting go of their childhood. It was a whole era that we let go with her, and a friend. Douchka was my most devoted friend. She was always there, and yes I took her for granted.
Coming home empty handed, boyfriend was roaming around me, and finally confessed that he was feeling a “bit guilty” for having kicked her so many times. Tears were uncontrollable at that time. 15 years later, it still just hurts imagining her, my sweet and devoted girl, being kicked by that man, and being a silent victim when she was already with so many aches.
Why did he kick her? The only explanation I can think of was jealousy. Douchka would have given her life for me and the girls, and I mean it. She never, ever did anything wrong in her life. I cannot remember him interacting much with her but he loved dogs, labs.
This is the day I scratched “boyfriend” from my bucket list.
So, yes, surrounded by my pack, I am not sure of many things these days, but I know that I will grow old surrounded by dogs, because you see, they are your best friends in good and bad times. Unconditional love…. You can’t find that in humans.