Saturday, December 26, 2009

High Maintenance

When I babysat for my friends' newborn baby, she and her husband gave me a pretty extensive run-down of her routine and her possible-deviations-from -routine and what to do if and how to work the very fancy baby monitor. They sort of laughed at themselves and their nervousness about leaving the baby for the first time. But I assured them that I understood completely. The note I had written for a recent dog-sitter was much longer and more involved than their baby-sitting instructions.

We usually take the dogs with us, but sometimes it just isn't feasible. They are such pampered little freaks that I hate the idea of kenneling them with their special needs. So instead of paying to kennel them, I rely upon the kindness of friends who are typically a bit reluctant but ultimately willing (my pouty face is hard to resist) to hang out at my house and spend the night with these guys.

Do we look high maintenance to you?

As I typed out dog-sitter instructions the last time we headed out of town, I realized just how complicated our little routines are. I guess we're used to it at this point--we try to balance the needs of a neurotic and anti-social almost-10-year-old pek-a-poo (Little Mac) with the emotionally needy momma's boy otherwise known as a 4-year-old puggle (Cooper).

I know I love them, but I think one weekend is plenty of Mac and Coop time for my dog-sitters. Perhaps this note, left for my most recent dog-sitter, will explain why:

The dogs will, of course, bark obnoxiously when you arrive. Please feel free to load them up with treats. Then they will like you immediately. If they continue to bark, just pop popcorn and share it with them. It is their favorite treat. (Do not be alarmed if they howl at the microwave during the popping process; they are just excited).

Do not feel like you need to hang out with them all day, although you are more than welcome to do so. Cooper's favorite spot is on the sofa and he will snuggle all day. When you leave, please put him in his house. He gets a treat on his way in and another treat before you shut the door. Little Mac also gets a treat at the same time (from the jar on top of Coop's crate).

Leashes are out if you want to take them for a walk. If Mac growls at you, that just means she doesn't feel like going. Don't take it personally--she does it to me all the time. Cooper loves to walk but if it's cold you really don't have to take him.

They've already had breakfast but they will want dinner at 5 o'clock sharp. Cooper gets the blue treat stick filled with diet food from the canister labeled with his name. He also gets a bit of extra food just dumped on the floor. Mac gets an almost-full scoop of senior food from her canister, with a generous helping of parmesan cheese sprinkled on top (see the huge-ass can of parm in the door of the fridge).

They will have the same for breakfast on Sunday morning, whenever you get up.

Cooper loves to snuggle at night (yes, we co-sleep with the furbaby) but if you want the bed to yourself, just carry a dog bed into the guest room with you and put it on the floor and he will sleep there. Avoid picking up or moving a dog bed that is close to Little Mac. She gets very cranky at night. We have put a bed in the guest room for her; she also has a bed in our room and she may choose to sleep in the living room. I would suggest you mostly avoid eye contact with her after 9pm and let her do her own thing. If she does attack her dog bed, don't be scared, she will just bite the bed (not you). She has special needs and a very large personal space (did I mention how much I appreciate you doing this?)

Cooper loves to play tug of war with his blankie but sometimes he also tries to eat the blankie. He should not do this, so if you catch him, please take away the blankie and give him a rawhide chip instead.

If Mac starts making a weird noise by the front door, that means she wants to go outside but she needs to be let out back. She prefers to go out front, so this may take some coaxing/patience (you might pretend you're going out back too and she will follow you). If she makes a weird noise in the kitchen, it means she wants you to refill her water bowl very full with fresh water.

This is my version of "normal life with pets."

Is it possible that they aren't all like Little Mac and Cooper?

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