Wednesday, April 4, 2012

• "D" is for Dachshund

Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt
Can you spell "Dachshund"? I couldn't, until I cared for a sweet girl named Jenny. Jenny has crossed the rainbow bridge, but this very minute I'm caring for Theodore Roosevelt, a.k.a. Teddy, the second Doxie of the family that owned Jenny.

Jenny was an elderly matron when I met her, stiff on her pins, nearly blind, nearly deaf. I have a bad video I took of her as she tentatively circumnavigated the kitchen, a path she took many times during the day for the promise of crumbs. She bumped into cabinets but didn't care. I carried her out into the yard six times a day—she could no longer handle steps—and watched her sniff dandelions and clover. Her family put up an angel fountain and a plaque with Jenny's name in a corner of the yard.

Teddy pays no attention to Jenny's monument. He's not keen on being in the yard unless his human mother is around. Teddy is a momma's boy and proud of it. His "mom" apologized that he doesn't like to go for walks with anyone but her. As a "professional" pet sitter, he'll walk with me, my ego said. Ha! For two days I leashed Teddy, who then engaged with me in a gentle tug of war in my attempt to go beyond the boundaries of the property. I think you know who won.

Teddy and Jenny's monument
Yesterday Teddy ventured farther, taking me on the strangest "walk" of my life. He jogged a few steps, sniffed, and looked backward toward the house. "Come on, Teddy!" I said in a voice an octave higher than usual, and pulled lightly on his leash. He came—on his own terms. Walk forward, back toward the house, walk in a circle, stop to sniff the grass or a bush, head back across the street and stand stock still. . . considering his tiny legs, we were about four houses away from where we started.

And for reasons known only to Teddy, he stopped dozens of times. Dozens. I didn't want to be frustrating by our meandering walk. I told myself it was wonderful that Teddy let me walk him at all. It was good he could enjoy sights and smells beyond his yard.

At that moment Teddy lay down in the grass. He may have been tired, but I think it was more that he wanted to sit in the warm sun, as people do. He gazed at the people hitting golf balls in the church yard, at the boys on bicycles, at cars. You might be asking why I didn't sit down and enjoy. I made the mistake of sitting in the yard sans bug spray my first day on the job and scratched for hours afterward. I gave him five minutes, then tugged on the leash. "Come on, Teddy!" Nothing. You have no idea how much force something that weighs 20 pounds can exert. Finally, I picked him up and carried him back to the house. I plunged my face into his soft, cinnamon-colored fur and sniffed deeply.

Teddy is loving boy who doesn't know why the five people who share his house have deserted him. He may be wondering if they'll ever come back. I'm certain that I don't do anything—from serving meals to scratching his tummy—the "right" way.

I've just realized an ugly truth: I want pets to be happy because of me, because I'm such a darn fabulous pet sitter. "Jenny loves you," Teddy's family gushed years ago. I've been hoping to earn the same praise in regards to Teddy. Luckily I have five more days to try to make Teddy as content and comfortable as possible for his sake.

It's almost time for the afternoon walk. I'll take bug spray.


  1. So sweet :)

    I love your blog and the idea of pet sitting :) Too bad you're not closer, lol.

    Blessings to you!

  2. Visiting from A-Z. I am sure you can win him over :)

  3. Awwww, hat a beautiful post! I personally do not get along with dogs, I think they all have something against me.

    Konstanz Silverbow
    A to Z Co-host

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