I’ve decided that dog-sitting is the perfect thing for a person without a dog to do. It’s also a fine thing for a person with a dog, too, but only because dogs are concurrent: If you have one dog and you dog-sit another dog, your work doesn’t double. It’s like serving two jail terms concurrently; It’s not twice as hard to serve three years for burglary and three concurrent years for kidnapping. And like babysitting other people’s kids (which, in retrospect is probably a better analogy the the jail thing), it’s almost easier to have another kid in the house to play with yours.
But for those of us without dogs, having a temporary dog in the house is just so nice. We recently dog-sat our friends’ dog, Annie (otherwise known as Annabelle, AnnaBanana, AnnieBannie and Ann), for a few days. A few weeks prior, we watched Annie along with another friend’s dog, Arizona (otherwise known as Ari, Zozo, ‘Zona and The Bigger Dog).
Here’s my take on dog-sitting: The top four reasons why the dogless should dog-sit occasionally.
Your husband wants a dog really, really bad and keeps threatening to get one when you take your next trip. Maybe he has set a precedent for buying things when you’re out of town. One year, he bought a new grill. Another year, maybe you hadn’t even finished unloading your suitcases from the 6-hour drive to Cleveland when he called you to tell you he bought a new car. He had to have jumped in his car and dashed to the dealership right after your car pulled out of the drive. Borrowing a dog for a few days at a time might prevent him from getting a Greyhound rescue the next time you go to Cleveland. Maybe he’ll replace your mattress or put an addition on the house instead.
People with dogs know more about their neighbors than petless people. When we had our Akita, Grace, those early-morning walks were my window into the world of all of our neighbors. I knew who was up north for the off-season; who was snooty enough to get the Wall Street Journal, but not smart enough to actually pick it up, bring it in the house and read the doggone thing; and whose teenage kids were partying (I found a puddle of vomit at the end of a driveway and drew my own conclusions). A year without a dog and I was completely out of the loop. Now, when I walk a dog that I’m dog-sitting, I can get all caught up on all the goings-on. For instance, I come to find out that the old skinny guy who used to sit in his study in just his underpants, with the blinds wide open and the lights blazing at pre-dawn dog-walking hours, his feet up on the desk and a laptop over his you-know-what, has moved. Or he was shut down by the homeowner’s association.
Awkward silences when you have company are never a problem with a dog in the house. If you’re nervous or have completely run out of things to talk about, the dog will be happy to fart or lick his own genitals or do something cute with his ears that will break the ice. We were having a party once and our dog greeted someone at the door by pooping. She must’ve sensed that there was a lull in the merry-making and wanted to do her part to give everyone something to talk about. I’d like to get a message to her in the grave that I do believe people are still talking about it.
Not enough people have seen you half-clothed
How else are your neighbors ever going to see you in your shorty pajamas with the ‘80s off-the-shoulder deal going on? When you’re not used to having a dog in the house, it’s not beyond of realm of possibilities to go tiptoeing out to get the paper in the morning and forget that your dog-sittee is right behind you. And she might decide that those twin puggles being walked two blocks away need a nice morning kiss and/or butt-sniff. Thanks to mood lighting, I don’t even let my own husband see me as naked as the twin puggles’ owner now has seen me.
It was very awkward for a while. And then Annie farted and it broke the ice.