A hyper puppy, a skittish dog and a slowing, senior dog make for an interesting mix. When you add in the unexpected like a female dog going into her heat and a stomach sick doggy, you have adventures in doggy sitting.
I’ve been on a bit of a blogging break. Two weeks ago, I spent a week in Pennsylvania caring for my brother’s three dogs: two young Shetland sheepdogs and one senior Golden retriever. After coming home, I jumped right into prep for teaching Pre-K/Kindergarteners in Vacation Bible school, (but more on this second topic in a later post.)
Abby, Cinnamon and Princess are all nice doggies, but their personalities are quite different. Abby, the tricolor Sheltie, has quite a bit of puppy in her still, likes to jump up on people and still likes to mouth things and “chew” on fingers. Cinnamon, the Sheltie with merle coloring, can be skittish and shy, acts submissive to her more rambunctious housemate but will still quietly seek attention. Princess, the Golden, is friendly and gentle, likes affection but takes a lot of naps and has some difficulty getting up and down.
Every day, I fed the dogs twice and let them out in the fenced yard several times. At night, I put the two Shelties to bed in their crates while letting Princess have her choice of two big dog beds. In between times, I gave them plenty of pets, cuddles and attention.
Dealing with animal care, just as with human caretaking or babysitting, can sometimes be a dirty job. This was a week where I think I dealt with nearly all of the possible bodily fluids, and I realize that I am not terribly squeamish. It makes me think I might have made a good nurse.
My brother and his wife are planning to start a breeding business with their Shelties, so neither Cinnamon nor Abby have been spayed. This made it possible that either dog could start her heat cycle while I was watching them, and it worked out that it happened for Abby.
I had to diaper her, and that process sometimes had its funny moments.
The first time that I attempted to diaper her was a little bit of a struggle. As you can see from the photo, I had to pull her tail through a little hole in the diaper. She didn’t cooperate too well and pulled out of it three times before I successfully diapered her. Then, I realized, to my dismay, it was time to let all three dogs out and I would have to remove it anyway.
It was also a rhythm, thinking about all three dogs and their needs when I let them out. The back deck had one set of steep steps that the Shelties could run down, but Princess, the senior dog, could not manage. I would lead her, on a leash, down some less steep side steps and then back into the fenced area of the yard via a horse gate. Because of the distraction of Princess and hooking her up to a leash, a couple of times, I forgot to remove Abby’s diaper before letting her out. She would dart out like a shot as soon as the door opened. By the time, I led Princess around into the fenced area, catching up with Abby and removing her diaper, she had already peed in it. So, I had the extra job of handwashing the diaper and swapping it out for another.
In spite of all this, Abby was much more cooperative with me after my first attempt to put her in her diaper.
These were not the only dirty messy jobs of the week. Cinnamon got sick to her stomach that week. I woke up in the early morning hours to the sound of her retching and found vomit inside her crate. This repeated itself multiple times. Sorry, squeamish readers, but I will try not to be too graphic. She vomited on the hardwood floor in several places the next day, and then again in her crate, so I had more messes to clean and blankets and towels to rinse.
Following instructions from my sister-in-law, I started Cinnamon on some doses of coconut milk to help her nausea, two teaspoons every two hours and, the next morning, a small piece of bread with honey and ginger. Whether it was just timing or the effect of the home remedy, she stopped vomiting after the first dose of coconut milk.
All of these extra duties could have stressed me, but it didn’t as much as it could have. Instead, I had a feeling of success from meeting these interesting challenges. I certainly would have been more worried if Cinnamon went on being sick without recovering. It’s not necessarily pleasant to deal with these messes, but it’s something we deal with out of compassion.
Certainly, caring for dogs has its rewards, and I enjoyed a lot of affection and cuddle time with this lovable bunch.