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.