Meet my new posse.
For the next week, I’ll be serving as caretaker for:
Charlie, an affable, seven-year-old golden retriever with a congenital respiratory disorder and a severe fear of thunderstorms.
Lakota, an 11-year-old bulldog with issues both behavioral and gastrointestinal. He’s prone to snapping (especially at Ace) and known far and wide for his frequent, most audible and highly pungent flatulence.
Then there’s Cleo: a five-year-old cat who has no issues, it seems. After hiding from Ace for two days – and what cat in her right mind wouldn’t? — she’s taken to approaching and nuzzling him, to Ace’s unending delight.
In exchange for looking after them, making sure they get their food, their meds and ample amounts of attention, I get to stay for a week in a lovely and peaceful home in Santa Fe, to my unending delight.
All four pets belong to a writer/editor and her veterinarian husband, who have gone to New York to attend a family reunion, leaving me with four animals (five counting Ace) and two pages of instructions.
What with all the medications, it’s a little complex, but I should have it all down about the time they come back. Sophie gets a pill to help deal with the effects of her chemotherapy treatment a couple of days ago. Charlie gets tranquilizers because afternoon thunderstorms tend to roll in almost daily. Lakota gets half a Rimadyl and some Beano with meals. He takes his meals in a separate room with the doors closed – in one of those bowls designed to slow down fast eaters — lest he get any ideas about snatching someone else’s.
It’s a five-water-bowl house, six counting Ace’s. Ace has adapted to the new pack. He seeks out Cleo, is amicable with Sophie and Charlie, but steers clear of Lakota, who has gone at him a few times.
The first time Ace laid him down with one paw. Two other times, Lakota jumped Ace, but, luckily, Lakota telegraphs his attacks, with an Elvis-like lip quiver first, and his bites are not too intense. I know this because the second time he went after Ace, I stuck my foot in between them. Generally, though, my “dog shouter*” (patent pending) techniques work to quell any misbehavior.
Sophie is easy to deal with, and has quickly adapted to being a three-legged dog. She was up and around the day after the surgery. But I have to be sure and immediately scoop her poop. Because of her chemotherapy treatment, her “output” will be toxic for the next couple of days, and both Charlie and Lakota tend to eat poop.
Charlie is the biggest attention seeker. He makes strange noises deep in his throat, like a two-pack-a-day smoker, because of respiratory problems and difficulty swallowing. “If it persists, and it seems like he’s choking, just hit his sides to help him clear up what’s in there,” my instructions say.
Lakota is described in the note this way:
“Can snap on occasion … If he starts to snarl at any of the others, yell ‘Hey!’ very loudly. If that doesn’t work distract him with food … In general, keep him apart from the others, especially when vying for your attention, in a close space or when food is nearby.”
It all requires some logistical forethought, some maneuvering, but after day one, it’s going smoothly. In the days ahead, I’ll keep you posted on how we all fare, and on our travels around dog-friendly Santa Fe.