Monday, October 11, 2010

Mythological Bull

In Greek mythology, Zeus is the father of gods and men…the god of the sky and thunder.  So if “Zeus” chose to move next door to me and present himself in the form of a four-legged, slobbery-mouthed Pit Bull…who was I to judge?  And no, he didn’t change his name to try to blend in.

Zeus shed his Mt. Olympus swagger and became a dog of simple means and pleasures.  He loved belly rubs, head scratches and chasing after his favorite toys.  He was larger than most Pits I’d seen and more often than not, many people avoided walking past us.  Understandable, sure.  But you have no idea how upsetting that was to me. Breed-profiling, I call it.  “Breedists!”

One day as I was making my way towards my apartment building, I heard one of my neighbors screaming from her car, “April!  Run!  Oh my God…RUN!” A split second later I saw Zeus tearing around the corner at full speed, headed right towards me.  It all happened so fast. Unfortunately there was nothing that neither I nor his owner could do to avoid it…I was covered in dirt and slob!  My neighbor was still safely tucked away in her vehicle, no doubt convinced that I had been mauled to pieces.  I poked my head above the cars that obstructed her view of the carnage, and informed her that I was fine.

Pet sitters are like postal workers, not that we go postal but that we have to work come snow, rain, heat or gloom of night.  However, with Zeus being the god of the sky and thunder and what-not, I should have better prepared myself before walking him in the rain.  All was going well; in one hand I had my large golf umbrella that I paid $16.95 for at OSH, and in the other, Zeus’ leash.  We were almost done with our walk.  One block away from home, without any warning, without any rhyme or reason…Zeus’ chain prong collar broke away!  I’ve never been one to panic, outwardly, but my immediate thought was, “Oh, $#@!”

Zeus was not yet aware of what had happened until I started calmly approaching him with the collar and leash.  The look he gave me when he realized that he was no longer restrained made my heart sink and his leap for joy!  Thoughts of angry villagers chasing Zeus away after his reign of terror and them hanging me in effigy, swept through my mind.  I had to get him back.  To Zeus it was all a game of ‘chase.’  I abandoned my large golf umbrella and proceeded to get drenched while Zeus exploited my mortal limitations.  This game of cat and mouse continued half way down the block.  I was losing all hope.  This was it.  I was going to lose my pet sitting business all because of some mythological Bull and a faulty collar.

It may have been the other gods from Mt. Olympus showing favor upon me, but the thought to give the king of the mythological gods a command, struck me like an anvil on Wile E. Coyote’s head.  “SIT!” Great bolts of Thor, it worked!  I was just as shocked as Zeus was.  He was leashed.  The game was over.  I retrieved my umbrella; its purpose of which was moot at this point.  Visions of torches and pitchforks were now replaced by joyfully animated woodland creatures dancing about my head.

Zeus and his owner moved downtown, out of my service area.  I do miss him a lot.  But I often wonder what other mortal pet sitter he may be toying and amusing himself with now?

Bye Bye Black Cat

One of my little fuzzy babies passed over the Rainbow Bridge earlier this year. He was an older cat but had lots of vim and vigor in him towards the end. 

My clients instructed me to allow him to venture out, supervised, in the backyard during my visits. The backyard itself was more like a patio area. Eight feet out from the back door was a fence that cordoned off a steep hill with a 30 foot drop into the back of the neighbors back patio area. You see where I'm going with this?

I let Mr. Black Cat out (we'll call him B.C.) as I went to the other side of the house to dump some kitty litter in the bin. I came back around and B.C. had disappeared! I found him traipsing down the hill. I panicked! I found a space in the fence to crawl through and had to kick off my shoes to get a better grip on the hill's terrain. It was that steep.

B.C. led me on a goose chase. Just when I almost had him in my hands he dashed back up the steep hill towards home, leaving me to struggle back up the hill. Twigs in my hair and mud oozing from between my toes, I was not happy. But was very glad I got B.C. back home.

It wasn't until I was on the road to my other assignment that I busted out laughing at myself. I imagined what I must have looked like to one of the neighbors if they had seen me. I will miss B.C. very much. But not that hill.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Randy Bull Mastiff

“Randy” was a very excitable and friendly Bull Mastiff.  Upon meeting him for the first time he was more than happy to show me his toy up shoving it in my stomach! “Ah, he likes you.” the owner said.  Thank goodness, because I’d hate to walk a dog whose entire head was nothing but mouth, to dislike me.

My job was to take Randy to the dog park three times a week.  Because of his size, and his large mouth, I could see the caution and wariness on the faces of passersby.  One of those passersby was more than happy to express her fear and trepidation.  

One time Randy wanted to make friends with a German Shepherd whose owner was walking a few steps ahead.  So Randy galloped towards him, in that playful way that dogs do when they want to play.  The owner, upon hearing Randy approaching her dog, turned around and spurted out, “GET YOUR DOG!” with such venom it rendered me speechless.

She repeated her request again which jolted me out of my Medusa-induced trance, and I called for Randy.  Randy couldn’t have cared less whether or not he got to play with the dog…but my feelings were hurt.  How dare she make such a rash judgment against my dog!  I tend to get a little possessive about the pets in my care.  Randy was a happy-go-lucky pup who loved to play, run, romp around and chase me!  He was also quite the ladies-man. 

Randy loved nothing more than to walk along side a cute babe that was hiking, look up at her and with those eyes, demand a head rub.  Or if he spotted one sitting on a bench, he did not hesitate to jump up and sit next to her.  Not wanting these women to have a heart attack, I’d yell out to them way in advance, “He’s friendly!”  Each time, they all warmed up to him very quickly.

Randy was one of my favorites.  His owner had told me a month ahead of time that they were moving to San Francisco.  However, I was still completely caught off guard when after our last visit together as I was saying goodbye, I bawled my eyes out!!  What the hell was that all about?!  Even Randy’s owner was taken aback.  I hope to God she didn’t think I was a wacko and realized that I was just very fond of Randy.   

That’s one of the occupational hazards of this field.  You get attached so quickly and easily to these fuzzy critters.  They burrow themselves into your heart and curl up in a nice warm spot and stay there forever.  Randy said goodbye to me by jumping up and thrusting his front paws into my stomach. Mushy I know.  But true.  The emotion is mushy...not my stomach.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Gregarious Greyhounds

The Greyhound is a graceful, elegant and ancient breed of dog. It is the only dog mentioned in the Bible (Proverbs 30: 29-31). It is depicted on murals of long ago civilizations.

When I opened the door to take one of these majestic creatures on its first greeted me by taking a majestic chunk out of my leg! Ok, not literally. It was just curious to know what my jeans tasted like.

The client had been struggling to keep a pet sitter that wouldn't leave after getting bit. The poor fella was a racing rescue and was still dealing with some issues. I knew this during the initial interview and that's why I didn't bail after what I call the, "I'm-getting-to-know-you" bite. I also didn't bail after the, "my-mom's-home-sick-and-I'm-confused-as-to-why-you're-here-so-I'm-gonna-bite-you-just-in-case" bite. 

One day when I bent down to show him where his treat was that he dropped, I still stayed after the "I-think-you're-trying-to-take-my-treat-away-so-I'm-gonna-bite-you" bite.

Needless to say, I managed to receive a tetanus shot in the middle of all of that. And the beautiful and graceful Greyhound and I are best buds now and I have been bite free for over a year now. However, I'm not ruling out the "Happy-Labor Day-do-you-taste-like-BBQ-today" bite.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Vicious Little Rabbits

As a pet sitter, never did I think my first experience pet sitting a cute cuddly little fuzz ball would turn into a heart-pounding adventure.

I'll call the little fella "George." The first time I met George was with his owner. He was bouncing around joyfully enjoying the good 'bunny life.' Perhaps not unlike those who reside at a well-known mansion. That, however, was his demeanor in the presence of his owner.

Upon my first visit with George sans client, I reached down to pat him on the head. It all happened like a bad 70's horror flick. He made a strange grunting noise, mounted himself on his hind legs, and lunged at me with his teeth bared! I recoiled in terror.

Composing myself, I retraced my steps and tried to figure out how I could have caused a totally unprovoked attack. I surveyed the animal's enclosure and his surroundings. I assessed George himself, who to the naked eye appeared a gentle doe-eyed creature. Clever, very clever.

I recounted something the client said that now echoed in my head like sage wisdom from Obi Wan Kenobi. "Remember the towel. He likes to play with the towel." Grabbing the towel I flicked it in George's direction. He was skeptical at first. As well he should have been. I could have been out for revenge afterall. He had to be careful.

Realizing I meant no immediate harm, he proceeded to play with the towel. It was then I discovered I had been holding my breath the entire time. I could now breathe. And George could now bare his teeth for eating carrots...instead of fingers.