Saturday, May 23, 2009

My one night stand with a dog

Sally just came back from 10 days in Pennsylvania visiting our son and his family. She helped him by taking care of his two children while he went for his class at nearby Slippery Rock University. The plan was that Sally would fly in Thursday night; I'd pick her up at 10:30 p.m.

The other part of the plan was that I'd take her and her luggage to her chiropractor's house, where she'd do a pet sitting job over the Memorial Day weekend. Are you with me so far? This is where the plan came unraveled. When Sally got to the Pittsburgh airport her flight to Chicago was seriously delayed out of Tampa because of lightning. Sally wouldn't be able to make her connection to Salt Lake. The only alternative was to go back to David's house and stay another night, flying out the next morning. I got this in a phone call from her and I was nodding and thinking, "Yeah, one more night, sure. Yeah." Then she said, "You'll have to fill in for me at Dr. Cindy's house tonight."

Whuh-oh. Dr. Cindy has an old Sheltie, Haley. When Sally first started pet sitting Haley she was very shy, but she was a lot younger. Haley has had her health issues lately. I got cleared to pick up the house keys from Dr. Cindy's next door neighbor, Jeannie. She fed Haley earlier in the day. I walked in the house and Haley stood looking at me. Just looking. There was a definite look to her looking, too. It was, "Who are you and why are you in my house?" She didn't bark, just went out the dog door into the yard. I turned on the TV and in a little while she came in, probably because she associated TV with Dr. Cindy. Then she stood there looking at me as if to say, "Why are you watching Cindy's TV?"

That night I slept on the couch. I'd taken my own pillow, my own blanket. I've had to do this for Sally a couple of times and I do not like to sleep in someone else's bed, so if they have a good couch I'll take it. Cindy had covered the couch with an old sheet in case Haley decided to lie on it. At 2:30 a.m. I woke up to see Haley standing in the dark looking at me. "Hi, Haley," I said. I held out my hand so she could take a sniff, although she could have been up close smelling me while I was sleeping. Even in the dark I could tell from her stare she was thinking, "What are you doing on my couch?"

I went back to sleep. I woke up at 4:30 for a bathroom break, but didn't see Haley. As I approached the bedroom I saw she was standing by her doggie bed staring at me. "Why are you going in Cindy's bathroom?"

The above picture is of my own Sheltie, Kim, taken in 1966 when she was 10 years old. I've never owned a dog since. Kim was great, and she was extremely smart. The look she's giving whoever took the Polaroid of her is the same one Haley was giving me. "Why are you shooting off a bright light in my face?"

At 7:00 a.m., which is the time Cindy had indicated was Haley's feeding time, Haley was standing right in front of me looking at me. She was beaming telepathy at me. "Feed me. Feed me." I fed her, and left after a short while. I picked up Sally at the airport at 1:30 p.m., took her to Dr. Cindy's house, told her I'd be back at 5:00 so we could go to dinner. When I walked up Cindy's walk at 5:00 and Sally opened the door Haley rushed out at me barking ferociously. Whatever patience she had had with me while I was her roommate the night before was exhausted and suddenly I was a threat. She was probably thinking, "I've got Sally here now, so GO AWAY."

Later on Sally told me, "I guess you're my back up in case I have a problem getting to one of these jobs." I felt a cold shiver travel down my spine. "Yeah, sure." I said, hiding the terror that gripped me. Staying in other peoples' houses overnight, especially when the people have no food in their refrigerator and apparently live on vitamin supplements and herbs (oh yeah, and one jar of Spanish olives) is not my idea of a good night, but I'll be there for Sally if she needs me. I guess it's not so bad to be Plan B if it isn't more than a one night stand with a dog.

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