Smelly Adventures in Pet Sitting

  I can’t tell you how often people say to me, “Oh, it’d be so fun to work with animals.” Or quite frequently when I quote someone my fee for pet sitting or boarding dogs, they are shocked and say something rude like, “But I have a beautiful home, it would be like a vacation for you.” Another good one I hear is, “My housekeeper only charges me $25 per night.” 

     Forget the obvious part, that I am not a housekeeper and that I actually know quite a bit about canine health and behavior – the part of the equation people miss is the profound RESPONSIBILITY of looking after someone’s dog. 

     I can see why people picture me as Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music.”  Me and all my happy little doggie clients smiling and prancing on a beautiful hillside.  I do love dogs and this scenario is actually a big part of my day almost everyday.  Today however, was not one of those days. Er, it was, but only a small part.  Here’s how it went:

     Early morning and I am sitting on my couch working on my laptop. My phone vibrates with consecutive texts from a client whose dog is ill and it all started after I dropped her off yesterday. Gulp.

     As if this weren’t enough to scare me straight into a staff job in a cubicle somewhere…suddenly I smell the sharp and unmistakable smell of dog poop. I look around and the coast is clear. I peek over the back of the couch and there are no land mines in sight.  More texts from the sick dog. She won’t even drink water. Not even beef broth. Dear God.

     The acrid smell persists. I can’t figure it out. The dogs have all gone for their morning walks and taken care of business. Then I notice that Redford, the Norwich Terrier who is staying with us and sitting at the end of the couch, looks very uncomfortable.

Cue horror movie music….

     I realize in that moment, that Redford, whose hair has grown longer than usual, has poop mashed into the hair on his bum.  I gasp and reach for him but he jumps off the couch leaving a downhill poop smear in his wake. He lands on the carpet terrorized by the mess on his behind. He quickly sits on his haunches and starts scooting – trying to somehow extinguish what his happening back there.

     The foot long poop smear on the carpet sends me into full scale panic but I can’t catch Redford because my foot is caught in the power cord for my laptop. My husband, who is blind, comes into the room wondering what the hell is going on. I yell at him to freeze so he won’t step in the poopy mess. I tell Redford to sit, then I realize I don’t want Redford to sit – I need him to stand but stand still so I can catch him. I ask my husband for help but he just stands there.   It was all very confusing, nothing short of mayhem.

     Eventually we neutralized Redford and did some clean up. Fortunately the rest of the afternoon was mostly uneventful. Got Redford a grooming appointment,  had a nice time at the El Segundo small dog park where everybody played, chased and made new friends. The hills were indeed alive with the sound of music…at least until I got to Beverly Hills that is.

     In gridlock traffic, one of my client dogs vomited in the back of the car. He didn’t just heave once, he heaved multiple times. So now, besides the pungent smell of the steaming vomit, I had to worry about the other dogs getting into it or worse –eating it.  I looked around but there was nowhere to pull over. I took several deep breaths and prayed for a parking space.

     Lo and behold a nice big metered space appeared just up ahead on my right. It happened to be directly in front of the entrance to The Peninsula Hotel.  All sorts of fancy cars and fancy well-coiffed people parading around and there I was, sweaty and exhausted using a grocery bag as a glove so I could scoop the vomit into a plastic bag. Alas, what a sight I must have been with my Clorox bleach wipes in hand!

     Days like this are rough.  Then I remind myself that the day could be far worse.  Especially in a heat wave like we are having, I consider myself fortunate to have avoided more serious perils.

     Today, like many other days where I have gotten a parking ticket or lost a client leash, I remind myself of what is most important; that the dogs who are all so beloved are safe at home with their families.