….there were stories of starting out, getting carried away yet soldiering on but since once again becoming a home owner myself and turning in the van, things homeminder-wise had become somewhat static.
Gardening, book writing and fighting the house every diy step of the way have occupied far too much time. However, 2018/19 haven’t been a complete dog free zone. The yearning to get close to animals once again ensured that I rashly accepted jobs that I shouldn’t have touched, reminding me of the Manchester fiasco (tablecloth for curtain, stained mattress, lounge/dining rooms accessible only by untying dressing gown cord used to limit animal – 2 unruly Afghans and Burmese cat – access, o I could go on…) but you live and learn. Well, you might do, but I seem to repeat the same mistakes, possibly due to my dreadfully selective amnesia. I can’t remember.
Having agreed to a pre-holiday preliminary weekend sit for a blind, deaf 13 year old poodle, the owners’ casual comment on leaving the house ‘o, he has bitten the dog walker a few times but he doesn’t mean it’ left me wondering how long I’d got. The answer came fairly swiftly as reaching out to guide him away from hitting the coffee table corner, I received a down to the bone bite through the pulp of my index finger. Good grief, that dog was quick! I found the first aid kit, nearly passed out irrigating the wound under the tap (the teeth weren’t in great shape – the dog’s, not mine) and tourniqueted it to within an inch of my life…which was flashing in front of my distorting vision.
Attaching the lead to his collar became the next challenge but donning a pair of gardening gloves, I managed to survive the rest of the weekend. And learnt. I had earlier asked how to transport the dog in an emergency ‘o, call a taxi and he’ll sit on your lap’ – a dog that’s just attacked me! – Although I didn’t accept the holiday sit, I could only admire the tenacity and spirit of a dog that could find its way around the garden by the feel of the surface under his feet; would occasionally miscalculate the length of the lounge, bang his head and simply re-orientate and carry on. His unbridled joy on the owners’ return was heartbreakingly poignant.
Next, an even more elderly whippet cross challenged my reflexes in capturing her subtle ‘I need a pee’ body language (when you’ve gotta go, you’ve just gotta go whether on the plush Zen rug or not). I found my heart melting during her soul-searing stares in my adoring eyes. Or it could just have been our cataracts talking to each other. I don’t think the owner was terribly impressed at the stain in her rug but to paraphrase the pup quote ‘you can’t have an elderly dog AND nice things’. She was a lady (the dog not the owner) who knew when and where she would walk…to the car and no further…I had to laugh! Then there was a delightful lady of questionable parentage that turned out to be an undisclosed bolter and although I was school 2nd fastest 200metre runner, that was many moons ago. The frantic gallop along the banks of the Leeds-Liverpool canal did nothing to alleviate the childhood pain of never coming first. The lead most firmly stayed attached on excursions for the rest of the sit…a lovely dog but another pee-er when overly excited, which was most of the time, especially when meeting the owner. A long black hair on the uncomfortably creased sheets and throw away comments by the owner gave me the even more uncomfortable feeling that my comfort was not high priority.
There have been several sits where owners have stated (cat) ‘doesn’t go far/doesn’t stay out long’ when I’ve enquired as to their habits yet I have found myself scouring the countryside for hours. There have been sits (dog) where I have been told in no uncertain terms that if I don’t run them off leash, the dog isn’t going to get enough exercise. Despite my extreme reservations, I have ceded to that order only to find myself…well, I’m sure you get the picture.
Then there is the sit that makes it all worthwhile..delightfully supportive homeowners who bend over backwards to ensure everything is in place for a smooth transition and stay; darling dogs that are sleep partners par excellence!; a lovely house, in a lovely location with every facility you could want. Ah! Bliss! Who would want any other kind of life?