Wednesday, August 3, 2011

• Petsitter Quandary: Favoritism?

Lily (left), Shelly, and me
Usually I write about solutions: how to keep pets from escaping, where to find dog-friendly restaurants, that sort of thing. But this time I have a problem and need help.

I'm pet sitting Shelly and Lily, two older dogs. Shelly's arthritis has been getting worse. She slipped climbing up the basement stairs one day. I didn't see her, only heard, so I don't know how far she fell. When I went downstairs she was wandering around slowly, dazed. She didn't even hear me call her name. I carried her upstairs. She came round quickly, and seemed fine after that.

Her owner said Shelly has slipped on those stairs before and wasn't worried. But I do not want Shelly to fall on stairs again.

The girls have a routine for getting in and out of the house. Both ways involve stairs. If I didn't have arthritis in one knee, I could carry Shelly up and down, but more stairs equals more pain. So I've switched up the routine.

Therein lies the problem. Because I put a leash on Shelly and take her out the front door for a quick wee several times a day, Lily thinks Shelly is getting walks—and she (Lily) isn't.

I've come up with some other ways to get both girls in and out of the house that I hope will work better for Lily. And of course I'll keep walking them twice a day.

But I don't want sweet Lily to feel jealous. Does anyone have suggestions?

Follow-up one week later: Things are somewhat improved. Some days Lily pouts when she thinks Shelly is getting special treatment; other days she's less sensitive. I shower the girls with praise and give them a Milk Bone after potty breaks and walks. My peace of mind comes from knowing I'm doing the best I know how to do for the health and welfare of all three of us. Their owner returns in two days (hard to believe, after two weeks!) and will restore their equilibrium, for which I'm grateful. I hate to see Shelly or Lily confused or upset.