How a Dog-Sitting Gig Can Turn Your Life Upside Down

Kristi Keller

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This may sound more like a diary entry than an article, but I have to write this out in order to therapize myself. I’m doing some major woooosaaahhh up in here.

Yesterday, I started a dog-sitting gig for a friend of the family. She is currently gallivanting around Paris, while I’m sitting here feeling like I just became the parent of a high-needs toddler.

I think I may be too old for puppies at this stage in life.

Harley is his name, and he’s a 9-month-old Labradoodle. Is that how you even spell it? It’s a weird name for a dog breed. I’m not sure I’d buy any dog with the word “doodle” in the name.

I took the gig, firstly because he’s a dog. I love dogs and I thought this would be a great way to fill the blank space in my life since the loss of my own dog, five years ago.

I also took the gig because let’s face it, I’m making more money doing this than I’ll ever make writing. Besides, Harley’s mom paid me in advance.

When she transferred me the chunk of money the other day, I did what any logical person would do. I bought a memory foam mattress topper, new luxury sheets, and a set of fantastic pillows — for a bed I won’t be sleeping in for ten days.

This gig is a live-in situation so I’m Harley’s housekeeper now, and lord does he need one. This morning, at the wee hour of 6:30 am, he decided to start ripping around the yard at Mach 5. Who does anything at that hour, let alone activities at warp speed?

Of course, he only ripped around the muddy parts of the yard though. It rained last night. Harley now looks like a black lab, more than a golden Labradoodle.

Speaking of 6:30 am, I haven’t seen that hour since I had a vacation flight to catch. But this is no vacation. Far from it.

Dog sitting Harley is a high-maintenance gig. His mom has spent a ton of time and money on professional puppy training so I need to respect that. I’d hate to be the undoing of his entire life, in a mere 10 days.

I can tell his mom is retired and has all the time in the world for him because each time I sit down in front of my laptop he walks up and paws at my arm while staring at me. It’s as if I should have nothing better to do than hang with him.

This is like when you’re a parent and your kids always want attention the minute you get on a phone call.

I’ve only been here for 24 hours. How the hell am I going to get ANY writing done if I have to shake a paw every five minutes?

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At the front and back doors to this house, there are large plastic bins with lids, full of shoes. I learned the hard way that my shoes should have been inside the containers.

A quiet evening of Netflix last night was out of the question. Harley has a lot of bones and the house has hardwood flooring. Bones clunking around on floors doesn’t make for a peaceful evening experience.

Aside from the fact that he rips around in the mud and then runs full speed toward the patio door, slamming into it, he’s a very well behaved puppy.

He (mostly) listens when you give a command, he sits patiently when he sees his leash, he doesn’t whine when confined because he’s wet and muddy.

And the absolute most impressive thing about Harley? He’s not at my heels when I crinkle a chip bag, nor does he beg at the dinner table. It’s like he doesn’t even understand the concept of human food.

Nicely done, Harley’s mom! Nicely done.

When I feel frustration coming on I try putting myself in his position. He’s had his mom 24/7 his entire, short little life. Now she’s gone and he probably feels lost without her.

I’m a stranger in Harley’s life, yet he welcomed me in with open paws and lots of ridiculous puppy love. He could have gone the other way with it, this I know for sure.

I once dog-sat a different dog who hated my guts, simply because I wasn’t his mom. I had to use oven mitts to do anything near the dog because it kept biting me. It was a torturous week.

But Harley means well. I’m pretty sure all his begging for attention is just because he misses his mom. And I have to admit, I haven’t had someone this happy to see me in….well….since I was a dog mom myself.

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I'm an old school travel writer who's been flung into another writing world through life experience. I have a compassionate eye, a different opinion, and strong words for this world we live in. I also know a thing or two.

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