Apologies, that was a bit of a harsh way to open. I like animals, giraffes are my fave, but I don’t LOVE animals.
We were a pet free family when I was growing up. ‘ We can’t get a kitten or a puppy, Angela’s allergic!’. I’m sure my sisters resented me a little for this, although they did manage the occasional fairground goldfish and the animals on the farm were sort of pets.
It’s true though, I spent a lot of my childhood on my Grandparents farm looking similar to this..
The dogs and cats I was in contact with were farm workers, sheep herding and pest control, respectively. They definitely were not ‘fur babies’ ‘pampered pets’ or ‘members of the family’. They were fed, watered, had shelter and the dogs were given an approving ‘good dog’ pet at the end of a shift. If it was a particularly wet/cold shift they were treated to a night in front of the Aga to dry off and warm up but there was no ball throwing, face licking or sleeping on the end of the bed and they would sooner bite off your hand than have bows tied around their necks or be pushed around in a dolls pram, my younger sister will testify to that. The cats were crazy and would take a sharpened claw to your jugular if you tried to pick them up.
If we lost a dog it was replaced. Puppies came and went, as did kittens, the same with livestock I was never sad, there were no tears, it was just the way it was. I have fond memories of some of the animals but I never loved them.
I find human – animal relationships quite strange in fact I find them completely alien and I’m not sure if that’s from my pet-free upbringing or that fact that when I’m in contact with animals I feel like I need to have a shower, several showers. I have been witness to cats and dogs that sleep with their human, sit at the dinner table with them, I almost had a heart attack when I watched my friends dog lick her two day old babies face after it licked its own butt and my colleague had 2 weeks off work distraught when her rottweiler died. What the!!? I just don’t get it!!!
Don’ t get me wrong I can appreciate a cute animal, I’ve watched that monkey getting pampered video more times than I care to admit and I’ll happily pet a cute cat or dog, well, until its mouth or butt areas touch my hand… then I’m out!
Ok that was a long winded way of me explaining that I’m pet less because I am incapable of showing pets the affection they deserve but hopefully it’s enough to make you realise why it’s such a big deal that I agreed to dog-sit for a week! A whole week! 7 whole days!
I was an absolute last resort when our friends dog-sitter cancelled last minute so she was pretty desperate to have called ME. We’ve house-sat for the same friends loads of times so I assumed Kevin would be fine with it!
‘I’m not picking up poo!’
‘Sh*t, I hadn’t thought about that!’
I moved in a day early to learn the routine before my week with Hollie the Collie commenced.
She is 1.5 years old and very well trained, she follows commands and likes to play fetch with a tennis ball, she has her food bowl filled twice a day morning and evening and her water bowl full at all times. She is not allowed upstairs or on the sofa and she sleeps in her cage. Easy peasy!!
My first chore for Hollie was a 3 mile walk. She was apprehensive about wearing a lead, by apprehensive I mean I chased her around the garden for 15 minutes before admitting she was much more agile than I am(she might have knocked a good 90seconds off my best mile) and instead tricked her into the lead with gravy bones. I was worried about her pulling me but she was actually great, even when I picked up the pace to run for a mile or so she matched my pace. Five minutes into the walk came my second obstacle but I was more than prepared with a dozen poo bags, using one (maybe four ok five) as a glove and one to scoop up. I got the ‘present’ into the bag and tied it up and off we went.
It might have been the fresh air affecting me or her little face when she would turn round to make sure I was still there but I was actually starting to warm to Hollie when she all of a sudden changed from calm happy dog to crazy, barking, terrifying monster dog and at what you ask… a completely, unsuspecting, approaching runner. I grabbed her by the collar demanding she STOP IT and SIT, seeing the alarmed runners face and being embarrassed by my companions behaviour I blurted out ‘So sorry it’s not my dog!’
I quickly learned that Hollie isn’t too keen on runners, in fact she hates them and walkers and other dogs. Oh and children, cats, cyclists, vans, trucks and also low flying birds. Strangely enough for a collie she didn’t bother the sheep at all. It was an experience to say the least but we made it home in two pieces…3 if you include the piece in the bag.
The next few days went by in a blur of flying tennis balls and by day four I found myself smiling whenever she lay on my feet to have her belly rubbed or when she poked her nose through my arm to hug her when I was sipping my tea and when I came home from work she was there waiting, tail wagging with excitement. It was nice to have someone happy to see me… after 10 years together I don’t get more than a mumble of a welcoming from Kevin!
Hollie is still alive and I survived the week. I overdosed antihistamine and became an obsessive compulsive hand washer, I learned that dog owning is tying and hard work almost in the same way having a toddler is, although I bet baby sitters are easier to come by than dog sitters. I was so glad when we reached the end of our week together but I get it now! I understand why people refer to them as part of the family.
I secretly miss being followed around the house even if it is just mooching for gravy bones.
I WANT A PUPPY!!!!!!!!!
Next week I’m babysitting the twins…wish me luck!
Do you have any pets? What is your human-animal relationship like?
Thanks for reading 😊
Have a great day ❤️