This past week I did something that in a million years I never thought that I'd be doing. The question came upon me suddenly and surprisingly. "Will you take care of my dog while I'm on vacation, my son blurted out over the phone." Since they were leaving in a few days I knew that this was not a question out of the blue but one he thought of previously, and most likely knowing me, hesitated to ask. Normally, his sweet little girl dog, a snoodle, would have been bound for the nearest kennel. Not that the kennel doesn't do a good job, he wanted me to "enjoy" Madison.
I paused, not quite knowing what to say, as I've never had a dog, and wondered if I was capable of "watching" her 24-7. Well, it wasn't quite seven, but a barking dog in a quiet neighborhood is incomprehensible. He continued by saying, that all you need do is feed her the allotted portion of food per day, and have clean water in her bowl at all times. Reluctantly, after checking with grampy, the answer was "yes". (Other's who have seen her in action, would have said no, and thought that I'd have my hands full.) In a few days, I was to be responsible for the well being of a dog which my friend, Linda, typed as "hyper." I do recall at the lake, while she was tied up, she'd bark endlessly, and would run left to right repeatedly, like a mad dog.
That night they came over to leave "her" with me. Instructions, kisses and they were on their way. We kept Madison in another room with the door closed so she would not witness their leaving, thinking like children, it can be sometimes upsetting. Sure enough she started to cry somehow knowing that they had left without her. I imagine, that having a dog since four months of age, it does have it's effect on the emotions of all concerned.
I dog proofed the house in order that she could move about without any danger to bother her and my home. I already learned that she would in fact jump off of the bed, even though she didn't do it at home. After the short session of tears, see went around smelling where her mommy and daddy had been.
I was given a brief instruction as to how to hold the leash and take Madison for a walk out back to do what I was to tell her "go potty". That all went very well, and for the first night she probably went more than she needed to go, as we were both getting used to "understanding each other" which included a 1:45 a.m. false alarm. (Truly it is better to be safe than sorry).
I was very surprised that she warmed up to me instantly, cuddling on my side and coming to visit me several times during the night to be reassured that I was still there with her. She even licked my feet. There were times when she barked at me at close range. (I don't know who was more reactive her or me). I would respond by telling her to "sit down" with a tone of my own, and each time she did, I told her she was a "good dog." Soon, as there was no need to bark, and as it did not get result for her, she discontinued doing so.
We got to know and understand each other very well that week, as I took her for walks, fed her the very boring dog food, and entertained her with television. I even took her on the swing with me, and made her a makeshift "tent" from a blanket, to offer her shade on a very hot afternoon. Knowing she had become a very good friend, and never leaving my side for the most part, I ventured to slip her into the pool, drying her with a towel. Not even a sound did she make. Amazing!
She came with a squeaky toy bone, which we passed in the yard, and ran around the table playing peek-a-boo, doggy style. Of course, she looked forward to grampy's evening strolls as well.
The only time she barked was when her parents "returned". Other than that, she was attentive to two things, when someone came to the door, leaving my side to check on who it was, and when the telephone rang, dashing into the kitchen, silently. (She learned that from me.)
Somehow, she understood that I didn't want her to bark, and, that I took her out regularly so she would "not have too". It was a matter of scheduling and understanding how she acted.
Initially, her little legs would shake and grandma knew that she was scarred and had to be reassured that we cared for her. That did not take long. She gained so much "trust" that she even went up and down staircases that her parents said she would not do.
As she was going home, she did what my other grandchildren do, stop, look back and smile. If I had to say just one thing to dog keepers about how to treat their animal, it would be with patience and tenderness. They bark because their scared or maybe they do it because you expect them to. They do not listen to yelling, rather they prefer a "soft tone". If they are in a frenzies, just maybe they are reacting to your having lost control, a dog "barking" is not "listening", but venting. (That is, trying to get your attention.)
If I wanted her to hear what I had to say, I simply held her leash, gave her a quiet command that began with her name and her looking at me. Having held her close in this manner, it made her feel secure and only too happy to obey. I even used "baby or sweet talk" and she loved it. She was a pretty little princess, with soft white clipped curls and large puppy-dog eyes, who wants what everyone else wants--to be loved.
My son said she was very happy here. Of course, I try to make everyone feel at home in this place. Then, the question came, "would you take her again?" "Yes", I said, she is such a wonderful and well-behaved dog, at least for me. She loves her grandma I can tell.
Loving is not the hard part. Her parents were glad to see their "girl". The shoes that she will smell in the evening will no longer be grandpy's but her daddy's. My son said, "do you think she missed us?" Well, what do you think? Of course she did.
This was my first experience with our little "grand daughter Madison." She is all that they say she is and more.....Now and then, I find myself thinking about her and the things that she does in her specialness.
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