Ever since I started working at Tails I’ve wanted to adopt a dog. Though my big Chihuahua, Squirt, will always be my dog, he lives 300 miles away with my parents now (and isn’t willing to part with them to come live with me in Chicago).
“You need to kidnap Squirt and bring him here,” a coworker once told me. “He can hang out at the Tails office.”
“You need to get a corgi,” my old roommate told me (because she’s seen me get unusually excited whenever I see one).
“There’s no way you could handle a dog,” my boyfriend said. “Do you realize how much responsibility that is? It’s like having a kid.”
With all these words of advice in mind, I decided to accept an offer to dog sit for the weekend. A former Tails editor hooked me up with the couple she used to dog and house sit for.
At Tails pet magazine we don’t just advocate adoption, we also advocate responsible guardianship—it’s also not good for a dog to get adopted then end up back at the shelter because the adopter wasn’t prepared for the dog.
After work Thursday I went to the condo and let my children-for-the-weekend out of their crates. Boris and Natasha are rescued Boston Terriers, likely mother and son.
They are the happiest BTs I have ever met. As soon as they saw me their eyes lit up and they bounced out of their crates, jumping happily all over me. It was time for my first dog sitting challenge: the walk.
Both use harnesses, which seemed easy to put on. Over the head, put the arm through, snap. I harnessed them up, grabbed the poop bags, and we were off. We were barely off the stairs when Natasha stopped moving. She wasn’t giving me the “I’m not moving until you let me go one more block” face (now familiar), it was more a “Do you know anything about walking dogs?” face. Her harness was hanging off her neck. I had put it on upside down. Carefully restraining Boris, I was able to remove the harness and put it on correctly. Mission accomplished.
Boris and Natasha’s parents left me instructions for the weekend, letting me know when to feed and walk them—and how far. This is where the dogs took advantage of me I believe. The instructions said to go for a walk around the block. On our Friday evening walk we came to the end of the block and I tugged at their leashes. Neither of them budged. This is when I became accustomed to the “I’m not moving until you let me go one (or several) more blocks” face. So, like a substitute teacher who gets talked into extra recess because “that’s what they always do” I let Botasha talk me into a ridiculously long walk. We went down a block, up the other, and before we knew it, we were on a main street, lined with outdoor seating restaurants. Uh oh. Boris barreled down the sidewalk, Natasha trailing after him. He stuck his face in diner’s laps. He jumped up on a waitress. The first chance I got I pulled them down a side road. I avoided that restaurant street the rest of the weekend.
Walking two dogs at once sure was a challenge, but it wasn’t what made me hesitate about getting my own dog. I enjoy sleeping in a little on the weekends. But at 7:30 am on Sunday I heard whimpering. “We have no concept of time, let’s go for a walk!!” whimpering. So I dragged myself out of bed and joined the other pet parents on the ritual it’s-too-early weekend morning walk.
I walked them, played with them, got out of bed for them, but there was one thing about my dog sitting adventure that made me feel like a true pet parent—I cared about them. When I put them in their crates to go out for the afternoon, the whole time I was gone I worried about them. Did they have enough water? Were they sleeping? Did they miss their parents? Did they have to go to the bathroom? In three short days those little guys grew on me. Now I know why we use the term “pet parent” instead of owner.
I look forward to next time, and in the meantime, catching up on my sleep.