All last week I was puppy sitting while my parents, cousin, and Tio (that’s “Uncle” in Spanish) were on a cruise to Port Vallarta (Puerta Vallarte) and Cape of Saint Luke (Cabo San Lucas). Normally, I relish the idea of taking care of a lil puppy. This time, it was different. Arizona was experiencing record heat that week. It was in 103 degrees at 10 pm last Monday night. So in short, it was far too hot to take the dogs out for a walk. The rule of thumb is if it is over 75 degrees outside, don’t walk your dog on the asphalt! Veterinarians also recommend people do a 5 second test of stepping outside barefoot on the concrete sidewalk to gauge if it is suitable for a dog’s tender paws? If you can’t stand it, they won’t be able to either. The only go around is to wake up obscenely early like 2 or 3 am to walk and/or play with your pooches outside.–Yes, truly. Welcome to Arizona!
This is how it went down, my parents four year old Chiweenie (Chihuahua-Dachshund mix), Augie and my cousin’s 13 year old Basenji, Pebbles, were dropped off.–Here’s the thing with Pebbles. She is 13 years old. She was a bit stressed out and confused being in a new place (although we did do a trial overnight with her a few weeks ago) She recently lost her sister at the end of April and this is her first sleepover without that comfort. Pebbles is also very overweight and currently on a diet which she resents. More importantly she is a Besenji, a barkless breed that is high strung and enormously stubborn (and can be spiteful). It made for a very challenging week to say the least.
Augie was a joy. He likes to play and can play by himself. He’s a bigger kisser and very affection and exuberant when he wants to be . . . but he’s happy to be a couch potato as well. The first three nights, Pebbles peed multiple times in the house. A non-issue considering her age and situation (and my entire house is tiled now. A blessing to clean!). I had every intention of waking up early to walk the dogs. . . However, Pebbles is used to having free run of the house and I didn’t trust her, so I sequestered her with Augie and I in the bedroom. This upset her and it always took at least an hour to settle her down (one night it took four hours!).
Despite making sure both dogs went to the bathroom outside before bedding down for the night, Pebbles routinely woke me up between 12 am – 2 am. Every. Single. Night. It would have been fine if she JUST went potty, but then these midnight trips would rile up Augie and he would want to play. So it took HIM a while to settle back into bed. Gaaaaah! To top it off, Pebbles refuses for humans to sleep past 5:30 am. Now, don’t get me wrong I am an earlier riser by nature, but that is assuming I had slept for seven hours straight! These three hour spurts of sleep were not restorative to say the least. So I never did walk them during their entire stay. I felt right awful! Cabin fever, seriously! I’m not surprised how things escalated shortly after.
I was doing laundry one night. Augie was happily rolling around in my towels, as was Pebbles. When I went to read while the clothes were in the wash, my phone buzzed not even 15 minutes later. I walked into the room to retrieve my cell phone and caught Pebbles EATING my clothes. EATING!!! – I have never had a dog eat, chew, or shred my garments before. I was livid and reprimanded her for 15 minutes, digging fabric out of her throat. I felt VERY guilty a quarter hour later. How can I blame her? I can’t really discipline her that much because I am not her parent. She is old and unknown to me. Moreover she is bored out of her skull with lack of stimuli (since she seems to have forgotten how to play). I was more worried about her getting sick. In true Basenji fashion she asserted herself and dared me to challenge her like an angsty teenager. I held my ground and we didn’t associate with one other for the rest of the night, until 1 am when she had to pee. I ended up charging my cousin for the replacement of my clothes.
That’s the other thing, Basenji’s don’t bark. They whine/sing when they want attention or need something. That’s great for people who don’t like barking dogs. NOT GREAT for people who are essentially deaf. I have no doubt, the frustration between was further hindered by limited communication skills for both parties. She had to resort to pawing (at my face, one night!), pulling the covers off me, or waking up Augie who barked at me for her. Nice to know he can translate . . .
The day after the garment fiasco, Pebbles started rooting around the trash basket to take out tissue and shred it. *sigh* Really? I moved my waste bins so she would not get into anything that would make herself sick. Again when I tried to engage her in play to work out some energy she just looked at me with mild disdain and a slightly tilted head wearing the expression “What ARE you doing?” Futile, I tell you.
When my relatives came back to collect their fur-babies they were well aware of the situation given my daily text updates and pictures. We sat down to talk like it was some parent-teacher conference. I told them I would be happy to puppy sit again given it was Fall or Winter so the dogs could be properly exercised outside. If they want to travel in the Summer, I highly suggest boarding them at this great place I know. It is air-conditioned they have like a mini-indoor dog park for walks, there are other dogs to play and interact with and a devoted staff around the clock. Yes, it cost more than $10, but for piece of mind, I’d think it’d be a better solution. We were all in agreement. To that end though, my Tio and cousin don’t think Pebbles will last another three years. . . and next year we’re all going on the biggest cruise ship in the world, so all our dogs (my pup, included) will be boarded together. Worth it.