Sunday, September 19, 2010

Meanwhile at the Sheepdog Resort

“Buddy: His nine lives were in jeopardy”

Dear George,

When we were planning our week-long anniversary trip to New York City, we needed to make arrangements for Mike and Duffy, our beloved sheepdogs. I asked our friend Donna about possibly taking the dogs, and she said she’d be glad to do it. Mike and Duffy have spent a lot of time since they were puppies with their younger sister, Sophie, at Donna’s house. Nonetheless, it’s not an easy thing. A week is a long time for one person to care for three big dogs, and there are always worries about potential catastrophes. Donna’s biggest concern was her cat, Buddy. Buddy and Sophie have learned to coexist peacefully. Duffy, however, would like nothing better than to catch and eat Buddy. So Donna needed to figure out just how to manage three dogs and one cat. When we got back I asked her how it went, and she gave me the following account:

Dear David,

I know you were nervous about having the boys stay over for such a long time, but everything went just fine. I brought Buddy’s food, water, and litter box up to the spare room and built a barricade in the doorway that allowed him to come and go but kept the dogs from getting in. When the coast was clear, Buddy would come out. If the dogs saw him, they would chase after him, but Buddy was too quick for them. Usually he would run into my bedroom and hide under the bed. At bedtime Sophie would jump into the bed and claim her usual space. Mikey would sort of walk around, unsure what to do. Duffy though would go straight to wherever Buddy was. If Buddy was in the spare room, Duffy would lie down right in front of the door. Or if Buddy was under the bed, Duffy would be right there at the bedskirt. By the middle of the night all three dogs would usually wind up in the bed, and I’d be squashed between them, one at my feet and two at my sides. But they did give me some space when I pushed them over.

Sophie usually wakes me up at 6:30 or 7:00. She doesn’t really have to go out, but she wants to eat. I knew that Mike and Duffy were used to sleeping later, but they’d get up with Sophie, and I’d let them out into the back yard. For the first few days Mike wouldn’t go out on his own. I’d have to trick him by going out onto the deck myself, then coming back in. Once the house was quiet, I’d let Buddy come down. After a while I’d let Buddy out, let the dogs in for their breakfast, and then let the dogs out one more time.

“Sophie the sweet hostess”

I’d go to work every day, of course. When I came home I was definitely the leader of the pack. The three dogs would follow me everywhere. If I had to run upstairs to get something, they would all run up the stairs with me, then follow me right back down again. When I was cooking, they’d all spread out on the kitchen floor. When I watched TV, Sophie would get on the couch with me, Duffy would be on the love seat, and Mike would lie in the doorway. I never really had a moment of peace. I think maybe Mike and Duffy were needy because they missed you and Katja, especially the first couple of days. I took the dogs in the car one afternoon to see my mom. When we got back home, Mike wouldn’t get out of the car. I think maybe he thought it was time to go home to his own house. I checked 30 minutes later, but he still wouldn’t get out. Then the same thing 30 minutes after that. Finally I just got a leash and pulled him out. This happened two other days as well. He is so stubborn.

Lately I’ve been moving my car into the back yard to keep it in the shade. I’d leave the doors open so the dogs could go in, and usually they chose to. When I’d get ready to go somewhere, I’d put Sophie in the front seat and Mike and Duffy in the back. If I went back into the house, though, when I’d come back out Duffy would be in the front. All I’d have to do would be to look at him, and he’d look at me, and after a second or two he’d get in the back seat. I always praised him for being so smart. One day when I came out Sophie was in the driver’s seat, and Duffy was in the passenger seat. I said Duffy’s name, and he started to go back, but then stopped. So I growled at him – he went right back without me saying another thing.

“The happy pack on an excursion with Donna”

Duffy, of course, is the dominant one among the three dogs. He would watch out the window and begin barking whenever another dog walked by. Sophie and Mike would follow his lead and begin barking or howling too, even when they had no idea what was going on. They all would also bark when any dog in the neighborhood barked. I didn’t like it and tried to make them stop, but nothing worked. When I gave them rawhide treats, Mike and Sophie would eat theirs up right away. But Duffy would walk around with his in his mouth, then tease the other two who had already finished. Sophie, of course, is pretty wary of Duffy. They started playing a little bit, but it didn’t go anywhere. Sophie’s much more comfortable with Mike, and she flirts with him. She likes to paw at his head or give him a kiss. Mike growls at her and chews on her neck. It doesn’t bother Sophie because she knows he’s only pretending, and she just keeps playing.

So we had quite an experience. I don’t think I would ever want to own three big dogs in a house this size by myself. Life was just totally dominated by the dogs. It was like having three children, and I just gave myself up to the whole project. On the last day, when I told the dogs that you and Katja were coming, they understood, and they ran outside to watch at the gate. When you arrived, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the dogs get so excited.



G-Mail Comments

-Gayle C-L (9-20): David, What a cool experience for Donna. You have raised 3 loving smart dogs. I bet you guys missed them just as much. I m glad u had a great trip. Katja’s sister always takes u to the coolest places. Hope all is well w the family and the babies. Take care. ;). G

-Terry O-S (9-19): Can there be any doubt that Donna is destined for sainthood? I hope it has all the prerogatives it has been rumored to have!

1 comment:

  1. Can there be any doubt that Donna is destined for sainthood? I hope it has all the prerogatives it has been rumored to have!