Thursday, September 1, 2011

Adventures in Dog Sitting

Daughter and her 12-year-old friend asked permission to dog sit for a couple going out of town for four or five days. They live near her friend, which meant I'd have to drive her to perform her dog sitting duties, but I said it was fine. And when it turned out after the fact that her friend was going away from Friday morning until Sunday afternoon, meaning Daughter would have to do both the morning and afternoon shifts, we coped.

But when it turned out the owners weren't returning for three weeks, which meant both girls would be unable to do the morning shift during the week because, hello, school was starting, I was livid. Both girls swore the owners never said anything about being gone that long.

I was beyond livid when I discovered the dogs were staying in the backyard the entire time. The little 12-year-old terrier mix, an apparent escape artist, was to remain on a chain at all times. The lumbering oaf of a 2-year-old Golden Retriever had free reign of the backyard. I have had visions of finding that little dog dead, hung by the chain.

There's a whole litany of other reasons to really hate how these dogs are treated and be annoyed at the entire set-up. I'll just leave it at this: every morning when I go over to tend to the dogs, I curse the owners.

All this leads to Tuesday, two days after both dogs escaped under the less-than-watchful eyes of the 10-year-old brother of the friend. Thankfully, a nice couple found both dogs, called the owner's cell phone that was listed on the collar tags, and the dogs were put back in their proper little hell. We noticed at the time that the terrier's collar was fraying.

I walked into the yard Tuesday morning, greeted the oaf, and called for the terrier. Rounding the corner, I saw the chain with a now-broken collar attached to it. The dog, of course, was no longer attached to the collar. And he was gone. The oaf and I started walking the neighborhood, shouting out the terrier's name. My first call to the Marin Humane Society went unanswered. My second went through just as the friend's mother pulled up alongside me.

The Humane Society worker checked her records and said that, yes, they had picked up a dog as I described at 10 p.m. the previous night about a mile from the house. Except it was a female. Was I sure the dog was a male? Hell, I had never really paid attention, but the girls both said it was a boy. But how many brown-and-white older terriers are loose in our town?

The worker refused to let me have the dog. The owner had to grant permission. Oh, and by the way, the Humane Society doesn't open until 10, so screw you if you have to go to work. I asked if the owner's sister could get the dog. Obviously, the worker was no dummy as she saw right through my scheme to pretend to be the sister.

So there was no choice but to have the Humane Society contact the owners. We went back into the yard to feed the oaf and curse the owners and the Humane Society as well. As we were cleaning out the food and water bowls, I heard a noise. There, in a beat-up old dog crate, was the terrier. He had been put there the night before by that same 10-year-old brother who had noticed the broken collar and feared the dog would escape.

Laughing so hard tears were coming out and my stomach hurt, I called the Humane Society back to answer my own question: "How many brown-and-white older terriers are loose in our town?" Apparently, two.


Anonymous said...

Why the hell didn't/don't you put both dogs in a kennel and make the owners foot the bill? Seriously. I'm off to Oklahoma. xoxo Ginny

Patois42 said...

Because I'm a sucker. Oh, wait, so are YOU! Have fun in OK! xxxooo

Tara R. said...

I hope the errant dog owners are paying the girls well. They are seriously horrible pet people.

Blondie said...

I am the owner of a terrier, who is also an escape artist, but I spent $1,500 building up my cement block wall, so she couldn't climb it (she is a tiny little thing but can leap 5 feet in the air and clamber up a wall if she gets a good grip with her nails.) In fact, when I bought this house, one of the deciding factors was the height of the wall surrounding the yard, so Molly couldn't escape! When I go out of town, my dogs have access to both house and backyard 24/7 via a doggie door. I would never chain or crate either one of them, despite the fact that they chew on my shoes and pee on my carpet when I "abandon" them for work trips. And, when I "abandon" them, they still receive visits 2-3 times a day from my kids and my dad because they get lonely. I worry more about my dogs when I travel for work than I do about my children. My kids can at least fend for themselves somewhat and make themselves a sandwich, plus there is always a grown-up around if things get dicey, but my dogs? Not so much. SHAME on those dog owners! (But, glad the terrier is okay, and BLESS YOU for stepping in and doing the right thing, even if it is a major inconvenience!)

Major Bedhead said...

That's horrible. They should have had someone house sit for them, not rely on kids to do it. I'd be furious. Will you say anything to them about it?

mayberry said...

What a crazy and crazy-making situation. Our next-door neighbors let their very energetic young golden doodle tear around the yard with her leash trailing. I am so afraid she's going to strangle herself!

Suzanne said...

My aunt and uncle once asked the neighbor girl (but not her parents) to pet-sit their dog for a one month trip. They didn't know the dog was pregnant. The little girl didn't know that her family was also going on a trip. Without talking to her parents, she went over to set out lots of food and water to cover for her absence. Surprise! puppies all over the basement! So she set out extra extra food and filled every bowl she could find with water, and left.

You can imagine the state of the floor when my aunt and uncle came home. Nebraska summer heat. Two weeks of uncleaned up mess. Fortunately no puppies drowned in the water bowls, but the basement floor and subfloor were beyond repair.

Moral of the story: NEVER arrange for pet care with a child without writing down your expectations and having the child's parent sign it.


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