Ever since my parents gave away our dog-that-would-not-be-leashed to some farmers when I was little, I have never had a dog of my own. A cat adopted our family when I was eight years old and my parents never looked back. They soon realized that cats are more independent than dogs and do not, in general, require walking in all seasons or hours of chasing a tennis ball thrown for them, nor do they chew shoes or the TV's remote control, but they are comfortable companions and a good family pet. Although I love dogs and have made friends with many, including both the labrador retrievers, Cash and Buster, owned by my aunt and uncle, my husband and I never got around to acquiring a pet, besides a few fish for our eldest daughter, which she tired of fairly quickly. My husband dislikes cats in general, although they seem to love him, but he does like dogs. He has resisted the urge to get a dog because he believes that unless a family genuinely has the time and the energy to care for a dog properly they should not own one. We have been a busy family all these years, coming and going to lessons and soccer practise, and so I had to agree with him. Although I have often thought a pet in the house would be fun and have said so, I decided that unless he was also invested in the idea it would not be worth pursuing. Our two eldest children who are boys, did not ask for a pet. Our eldest daughter did but she was fulfilled by her relationship with various horses at the stables where she rode for several years. Our youngest daughter is a different story. Rarely a day goes by when she does not ask for a cat or a dog. And I think she is beginning to wear her father down.
Last Thursday, our friends on the farm asked us if our youngest would consider looking after their little Jack Russell terrier for the weekend. Of course, she said yes and her dad said yes, so Saturday morning, our little friend Bella came over to stay the night. Bella is one year old and is the friendliest, sweetest, jauntiest little pooch. When we visit the farm where she is so lucky to live a wonderful life she trots up to us, her little pointed tail wagging like a windshield wiper, and her funny pointed ears on high alert. She loves to play and chase and jump, and she is a very social little creature who will jump right into our car and make herself at home. She did the same at our house, sniffing every corner, eating every crumb on the kitchen floor, and testing us to see which pieces of furniture we would allow her to jump up on. Well trained by her family, she listened to 'no' when she tried the coffee table and was ecstatic when we said yes to the sofas. She did not damage anything except the plastic milk jug and the old stuffed animal we gave her to wrestle with. Our youngest looked after her every need, taking her outside to play, feeding her at the appropriate times, making sure she had fresh water in her bowl, and giving her affection and care every minute. We accompanied her on her walks with Bella, but other than that our daughter took full responsibility for her little charge.
By the evening, our daughter was exhausted, and the pair, dog and girl, went off to bed. A little after 10 o'clock, they came back upstairs to the living room. "Bella woke up and now she won't settle". I sent the sleepy girl back to bed and kept the dog who promptly settled in beside me and fell back to sleep. After a while I went to bed, and she did not follow me. When my husband came to bed he placed the sleeping dog back with the girl and all was silent until midnight when a neighbourhood dog began to bark. On the farm where she lives, there are no other dogs, so Bella is not used to hearing barking at night. She has incredibly sensitive ears, which perk up at the slightest foreign noise. By one o'clock our daughter was in our bedroom. "Bella woke up because that stupid dog is barking and she won't sleep." I knew that Bella slept with her two adult owners, and before I could say 'leave her with us' Bella had jumped up on our bed and settled down next to my husband. The neighbour's dog barked for two more hours, and sleep was sketchy the entire time as Bella found it hard to sleep. She kept poking my husband with her claws and whimpering slightly in response to the constant barking from across the road. I took her from him about three o'clock and she settled in finally, burrowing down into the blankets and snuggling next to my thigh, where she stayed until the morning. The experience reminded me of sleeping with my children when they were babies and the nights could be long ones, but sweet with the warmth of a little creature appealing to me for security and comfort.
|Bella and I settling in for a good read - she was soon asleep|
The next day was spent similarly to the first day of dog-sitting, except for a long afternoon nap for all concerned, and for the fact that my husband was home from work. I had a meeting in the afternoon so I was not included in the siesta, but coffee kept me awake enough. I was relieved to know that I would be able to sleep through the night later on when the dog would be at home on the farm. Later, after her owners had fetched Bella and I was saying goodnight to my daughter, she said almost weepily, "I'm happy in some ways that she has gone home because I am so tired, but sad, too because she was so much fun to take care of." The next morning after a great long sleep for all of us, my daughter and I admitted to each other that we missed the perky little thing nosing around and jumping up on our laps for a morning snuggle and a good petting. "She is a lot of work, Mom, but she pays you in cuteness," she said. Then she turned to me with those big brown want-a-puppy-dog eyes and said victoriously, "And Dad had fun with her, too, I know he did!"
The top photo is a meme my daughter put together for her Facebook page. She took a photo of our little friend Bella and paired it with something I said when I was sweeping the floor under the table and pretending to be the voice of the dog.