As a professional pet sitter, I can’t tell you how many times people say the following things the first time I speak to them on the phone:
“Do you take care of big dogs? I hope you don’t charge extra.”
“Sweetie is a Rottweiler, but she’s really nice…she’s never bitten anyone…she loves kids…you’ll love her…”
“He’s a Chihuahua, so he’s little. So you don’t charge as much, right?”
“She’s a Golden Retriever. She’s a lover, and she’ll be super easy.”
And my all-time favorite “Do you sit for Pit Bulls?”
I always provide the same answer: “I don’t discriminate based on size or breed. Every dog deserves the same amount of attention and love. I won’t take care of a dog that shows hostility toward me, regardless of the breed or size, and I take wonderful care of all animals that will let me, regardless of the breed or size. There is no difference in price.”
Sure, Goliath’s poop is HUGE, but that’s not his fault. I’ll pick up his, and I’ll pick up Chi-chi’s, just the same.
I have slept in bed with many a Pit Bull’s tongue in my face (in a good way) and I’ve been barked out of town by a Golden Retriever. I have learned through experience not to prejudge the animal. I greet each animal with the energy that is appropriate for the energy he shows me, whether that be positive or negative, big or small. Just like people, dogs are individuals and deserve the right to shine (or not).
So let’s judge them, but let’s judge them fairly after getting to know them. Just as most of us refuse to judge our human friends by their color or size, might we do the same for dogs? My motto: assume the best, but be prepared for the worst. I apply that to everyone I meet.
Hi! It’s nice to meet you…
I was dreading the moment when Mona Chica’s parents would come to collect their other fantabulous pooches. Two others, to be exact. If you read my post, she died in my arms last night, you know we’ve had a really rough week. Since Mona Chica passed, we’ve been dealing with the emotions of it all. It’s rough. Not just for me, but for my whole family. And since then, we’ve been caring for Mona Chica’s older brother and sister.
As a professional pet sitter…I’m thinking that’s now an oxymoron. Because there is nothing professional about crying on the phone when you tell your client that their pet has passed. The professional part was that I downgraded from all-out bawling, which I reserved for my family. But, then, a week later (they were on a cruise, don’t judge)–today–when they came to collect their other animals, once they started to cry, so did I. And we hugged, which is also not considered professional in the professional sense. Mona Chica’s mom remembered that Campbell (my 4-year-old daughter) was over the moon to take care of a Chihuahua, her dream doggie. So she brought this for Cam:
Let me break it down for you if you haven’t heard: I was taking care of these dogs for the first time. Though the clients knew their Chihuahua was sick, they didn’t know how sick. Mona Chica’s death, though not unexpected, was shocking. Then, when returning from their stay away, immediately after dealing with her beloved’s remains, upon collecting their other dogs, they presented my daughter with a toy Chihuahua (Mona Chica look-alike), simply because they knew Campbell had been excited to help me care for Mona Chica.
I think these brand-new clients touched something in me, and in Campbell, that we didn’t realize before, and probably won’t fully realize for some time. I didn’t think as much about my own daughter’s feelings of failure as I did about my own, the professional pet sitter, or as I did about my clients, who had suffered the ultimate loss. Sure, our family went through the emotions of loss and talked it out, but I never even conceived that my girl might feel a bit of failure that the dog who she most likely felt ultimately responsible for died in our care.
We now have a new Mona Chica in our lives. And though she can’t truly compete with the original Mona Chica, she’s something special, and she lets my daughter–and me–know that we’re something special. And that we did the best we could. And that loss sometimes just happens anyway.
I don’t really feel like writing right now. In fact, I don’t really feel like doing anything. My eyes are practically swollen shut, and I’m suffering from a crying hangover. And I haven’t slept hardly at all in the last twenty-four hours. Last night a client’s dog died in my arms.
I’d only known her for a day. Just a day. But she made an impression on me. She was little and sweet and cute and loved to cuddle and liked to lay in the sun. Her tags jingled so we’d know her four-pound body was approaching. And she had a heart condition. We just didn’t know how bad.
She was walking along and she just keeled over. She let out two little yelps. I thought she just passed out, as her owners said she might, so I laid next to her and pet her and told her it would be okay. I didn’t mean to lie. I stroked her head, and she laid there, breathing, and then she seemed to stop breathing. I didn’t think it could be. I told her “no,” but she did not obey. She just kept on not breathing. So I started CPR. And she just kept not breathing. And her heart stopped beating. I picked her up and she twitched. I held her and told her “no” again. She twitched a couple more times, giving me hope, and then she just went limp. And she didn’t come back from that. I tried to breathe into her mouth again, but she didn’t come back. I gave her a pat and a shake and told her “no” once more, but, still, she didn’t listen.
We called the vet, the emergency vet, and my friend and client, who is a vet tech, but there wasn’t an emergency to help with any more because she was gone.
Before I married my husband, I told him “we’re going to have lots of pets, but I can’t do the dying part, so you have to be the one to handle that.” He still married me, thank goodness, and he has kept to his word. He tried CPR, but I told him to stop. So he wrapped her in a soft towel and held her for me while I cried and while the kids cried. And he took care of her body for me while I made the necessary phone calls to her owners, my unbelievably supportive vet tech client friend, and he held her body while I went for a short walk, just to clear my head.
My head is not clear. I still can’t believe it. I want to rewind. I know I can’t change it, but I want a rewind anyway. I always wanted to be a vet but opted out because of the sorrow. As a pet sitter, I didn’t think I’d ever have to hold a client’s dog in her last moments. What are the odds? I only knew her for a day.
All the pictures I took of her yesterday keep popping up. I keep thinking about yesterday, before it was like this.
I’ll never forget Mona Chica and how she died in my arms last night.
When I was growing up, our little dog, Chipper, loved lights and reflections. I don’t even think the pet laser pointer for pets had been thought up, yet. Instead, he had a collection of flashlights in a designated drawer, and he was so obsessed, he would bark in anticipation if we even approached the drawer. Eating dinner was an issue because we had track lighting that bounced light off the silverware. We’d have to take a bite and then quickly bury the silverware under the plate or napkin or food. Nevermind the large serving utensils. Pizza night, with that spatula, was an event.
I still haven’t figured out why some animals “see the light” and some don’t. Or maybe they do and don’t care.
I’ve always been entertained by animals who do border on obsession with this entity that can’t be caught, and this week, I accidentally found one in a client. We were enjoying the cooling weather outside, and my watch shot a beam of light into the grass. Piper pounced. The game was on. Her big sister, Ava, couldn’t be bothered. What a great form of exercise for this pup! And what a great way for a little sister to pester her big sis–just part of the job.
So grab that flashlight you have lying around, or just use the sun and something reflective. Free entertainment for the whole family!
I honestly only heard of cat bearding recently, and I guess that goes to show how uncool I am, because it’s apparently all the rage. I’ve been missing out. Never mind the fact that I don’t have a cat. I need to get in on the act.
These crazy cat people seem to be calling it “that thing where your cat is also your beard.” Hilarious. I love it. I don’t know how, exactly, they get their cats to pose like this. So great! I see a few dogs in the mix, too, so maybe there is hope for me to have my very own genuine bearding photo.
My good friend, Heather, of Brie Brie Blooms is working with Fresh Step on a Cat Bearding Photo Contest. I can’t even believe how great the contest is. You totally have to enter. Yes, you. Aside from all the fun and gorgeous scratched-up face you’ll have, the winner receives a professional photo shoot with their cat (this is where me having an actual cat of my own would be handy) and a year’s supply of Fresh Step Litter, which is redeemable in the form of a $700 Sam’s Club gift card (okay…I’m running out do adopt a cat, now).
So have you been cat bearding? If not, can you whip out a prize-winning photo real quick (hurry up…contest ends on September 30th)? Meow. Come back and tell me how it goes…I can’t wait to see those photos.
I hope you didn’t miss the shocking footage from this canine’s last project. Well, she’s been at it again, and this time, she’s really turned the design world upside down! Check out her proud face as her sister surveys the scene.
HGTV, here she comes!”Designer Doggie” or “Doggie Designer”? You decide.