Saturday, March 25, 2006

dog tales

It's been a dog's age since I last wrote. Juggling 3 jobs, plus various other commitments, has proved to be quite time-consuming. It is actually rather invigorating to have to keep so many balls in the air, but by the end of the day I'm exhausted. My daytimer is becoming indispensable as I plan days in advance to try and squeeze everything in.

But of all the things I had to do in the last few weeks, dog-sitting seemed to be the one thing that at times I thought would be the straw on the proverbial camel's back. When the alarm went off at 6:28 each morning, when my hectic schedule had to take doggy bladders into account, I nearly regretted my promises.

And yet, there is something about being greeted by a happy dog - with wagging tail and excited whimpers - that is pretty nice to come home to.

This is Vera - her head cocked to the side in the way she had of looking at me, as if she hoped to find just the right angle so she could understand my human speech. She would also give me this head-tilt at various times as if to say, 'Come on, aren't we going to do that thing? You know, the thing?' Problem was, I could never quite figure out what 'thing' she was referring to.

I lived at Vera's house for 9 days - got up with her early each morning to take her for a walk along a wooded trail at the end of the street. Part retriever, she loved to carry a stick in her mouth on her walks. Once she found a stick she particularly liked in the park, brought it home, and left it (reluctantly) by the door. When we left that afternoon for another walk, she picked it up and carried it to the park. She left it at the edge of the trail, but picked it back up for the walk home. She did the same thing the next morning and for the rest of our walks.

And this is handsome Chester, a Rhodesian Ridgeback. He's an old man - more than 11 now. He's as tall as my waist, but completely gentle. He doesn't bark when I come to his door, just welcomes me with slobbery kisses.

Chester could easily be the alpha dog on the dog run in the park. The current alpha dog of one pack slinks into the trees and tiptoes away when she sees Chester coming. Other dogs freeze in their tracks and stare in horror and the huge beast lumbering toward them.

But he lopes on by, often not even bothering to stop for the customary butt-sniffing. He is real suck for treats though and if he sees another dog-owner handing them out he will get in there and refuse to leave unsatisfied. He will also adopt the last treat-giver as his new best friend and follow that person like a fawning puppy. The only way I could get him to come back to me was to entice him with treats from my (now smelly) coat pocket.

I took Chester for a walk this afternoon - and that is the last of my doggy duties. These last weeks have reminded me of the commitment needed to get a pet - certainly something I am not willing to take on fulltime right now, no matter how much fun I had with Vera and Chester. I will even admit that once I got out of bed, I actually enjoyed our early morning walks with a companion so easy to please. But it is lovely to be back in my own bed again with that extra half-hour of much anticipated rest.

Friday, March 10, 2006

it never rains...

Not that long ago I was scrounging for employment wherever I could find it. I started doing the Multiple Sclerosis Read-a-Thon presentations. I took care of a demanding disabled woman in her home. I went back to the restaurant I had worked in years ago. I dog sat for the neighbours.

One of the dogs I looked after was Vera. Her owner was so happy to find someone available (and likely ridiculously cheap since I had no idea what going rates are but now suspect they are more then $20 a day) that she booked me months ago to watch Vera over March break.

She contacted me last week, asking if I was still available. I'm no longer in her neighbourhood and considered saying no, but I hate to leave people in the lurch or turn down opportunities. I said I'd be happy to.

Her friend and owner of the huge yet friendly ridgeback Chester then called to see if I could also look after him the next two weekends. Well since I'm already back in the neighbourhood... why not?

My old landlords, also going away for March break, asked me to look after their cats. Bring 'em on, I said. The more the merrier.

I give you this story because it not only will make for a very pet-filled upcoming week, but also because it is indicative of the rest of my life.

I have gone from struggling to fill my time and make ends meet to wondering how I will juggle all the commitments I have.

In February I started a part-time job managing a web site. Also in February I finally got paid for a communications contract I was given months before - and was asked if I can do more work for them. I'd love to, I said.

Then I was called by the house manager British High Commission. (Around Christmas I had worked a few events for him - basic serving in a super-classy environment.) He wanted to book me for upcoming events in March.

Around this time I also got the call from said dog-owners.

I got an email reminding me that the next round of Read-a-Thons I had agreed to do begins March 27th. (At least I won't still have the dogs then.)

And THEN I got offered a full-time supervisory position with Statistics Canada for the upcoming census.

So now instead of lying awake at night wondering how to stay afloat, I itemize in my head. Take the dog for a walk at 7:00, then have to be at Stats at 8:30, be back to walk dogs at 5:00. On the morning I'm in at the office for the web job, I have to leave a bit early to be at the High Commission at 12:00. I'll have to find a way to beg off Stats for the other lunch I must work. Then the Read-a-Thon begins!!

Somewhere in there I also have to move the last of my stuff out of my old apartment. And then we were going to rip up the carpet and put in laminate....

It never rains till it pours.