Why I rock as a dogsitter

When I adopted Sam, I managed to keep somewhat close contact with her foster “daddy,” M the Beastmaster.  This has worked out super well for everybody involved for a number of reasons, some being because:

  1. Sam gets to still see her favorite person in the world (and I don’t hold it against her that that person isn’t me b/c she is SO a man’s dog), and since M the Beastmaster seriously considered adopting Sam himself before I came along, so he still gets to see one of his favorite beasties;
  2. M the Beastmaster is easy to get along with and has been a wealth of help with finding other dog-resources;
  3. M the Beastmaster is a part-time Animal Behaviorist, which has helped me out with a number of dog-related issues (esp. with Nell); and
  4. M the Beastmaster is willing to dogsit the girls for free when we go out of town.

Upon listing these things, I realize that M the Beastmaster is definitely getting fewer good things out of our “relationship” than I am, so I’m now suddenly hoping that he doesn’t read this blog where these facts are so conveniently pointed out for him.  

*cue awkward gaze that breaks the fourth wall*

M the Beastmaster claims that he watches my girls for free because he’s simply storing up favors, usually in the form of reciprocated dogsitting, for unknown future trips.  This weekend he called in one of those favors, so yesterday I tottered off to pick up his two beasties, Maynard and Jaden.  And let me tell you, these dogs both rock.

Maynard is a huge, dopey black Lab, the sort of happy-go-lucky fellow that makes you smile the instant you see him waddle towards you.  And when I say “waddle,” I don’t mean to imply that he’s fat b/c he’s certainly not.  But he waddles much in the same way heavily muscled men do, where they are simply so tank-like that their bodies have to move in a more exaggerated way to accommodate the bulk.  I adore this dog.

Jaden, on the other hand, is a black and tan German Shepherd.  One of the most gorgeous shepherds I’ve seen.  She’s really tall, consisting mostly of legs and snout, and her movement reminds me of nothing more strongly than a Mako shark.  This girl is fast, and even when she walks, she’s got a ground-eating stride that makes her look like she’s just gliding along.  This  movement, coupled with her size, makes for an intimidating picture.  She’s very much a tribute to the breed: attractive, smart, and stubborn.

And she lusts for my cat.

She’d shown some interest in Muse, that alert gaze and pricked ears that say, “Ooh, SHIIINNNYYYY…”  And Muse, either unaware or unconcerned about her threat, preened and mewed and bathed herself with a complete air of nonchalance, as if she were alone in the room.  Today, after last night’s incident, she is much more contained in her movement and makes sure to always travel around the room with a solid surface to one side of her, to avoid a sneak attack from above. 

And before last night’s incident took place, I handled Jaden’s overly-alert interest the same way as all my other dogs before when they first meet a cat: you dump ‘em in a room together and see exactly how interested the dog is in the cat, and when the dog shows too much interest and moves aggressively towards the cat, you reprimand the dog enough times and they get the hint that the cat’s off limits.  Eventually, you reprimand even the slightest intense look and they finally realize they should at least wait until you’re gone before they try to eat the cat.  Easy as cake.  Except with Jaden, this apparently backfired so that with every reprimand, her interest in Muse’s capacity as an hors d’oeuvre just intensified.  My bad.

So Jaden, smart beast that she is, waited until the cover of nightfall to make her move. 

In the middle of the night, all of us sound asleep, I’m awakened to a jingling bell.  I think, ‘That sounds like the cat’s bell,’ and I hear a slight shuffle, as if a dog perhaps had risen quickly off her bed.  Having gone through a few similar scenarios earlier in the evening, as Jaden always went towards Muse whenever she hopped off the bed, I said Jaden’s name in a warning tone.  I hear something move towards the footboard of the bed (which is distinctly NOT coming towards me after I called her name). 

“Jaden!  Cut it out!”

A frantic jingle of the bell (as Muse jumps off Clayton’s side of the bed), followed by the scratching noise of claws on carpet (as Jaden dug in to pursue). 

I jump to the foot of the bed in time to see a huge black shape streak (with no details, because I wasn’t wearing my glasses and was therefore nearly blind) towards the other side of the bed, which is where the jingling is as the cat lands on the ground and starts to make a break for it.  So, I reacted as any sleep-deprived, sane person would react in such a situation where a dog is ignoring you in favor of committing felinicide.

I full-body tackled the dog, from my awkward hands-and-knees position at the foot of the bed.  This involved me diving like a linebacker in a nightslip, arms splayed straight out in front of me, over the wooden footboard onto the dog who immediately—because like I said, she’s a smart one—offered zero resistance as I collided with her and proceeded to roll the both of us over in a somersault.

I ended up on my knees on the other side of her, with one hand pining her shoulder to the floor, while she lay on her back, all 4 legs giving the French salute, and looking at me like I’d just…well, just flew off the bed and tackled her without warning. 

“This is why that was a bad idea,” I growl at her.

Needless to say, she was a bit confused, having one minute been on her feet and gleefully anticipating kitty paté, and the next, being tackled, flipped, and pinned with me growling like a rabid wombat over the top of her.

And at this point in the incident, I woke up completely and realized what I’d just done.  My thoughts were something like this:

  • M the Beastmaster’s gonna kill me.  He’s never going to let me watch his dogs again.
  • Well, maybe Maynard.  He might trust me with Maynard but only because Maynard’s too indestructible to hurt.
  • Am I a bad person if I consider not telling him about this?
  • I wonder if Jaden’ll pay more attention to me now.

So I look up at Clayton, expecting to see his oblong blob shape with his jaw dropped in amazement.  “Did you see that?  THAT WAS AWESOME!” I declare to him.

He’s still asleep.  And not only did he sleep through my Fantastical Leap of Domination, he had the nerve to wake up after I said “THAT WAS AWESOME!” to growl at me to go back to sleep and quit playing with the damn dogs. 

The night was pretty anticlimactic after that.  The only interesting thing that’s happened so far today is that while Jaden still has an unholy attraction to my cat, displayed via the fact that she positions herself so that she’s ALWAYS facing the cat directly (so as not to miss a single move), Jaden does respect my small warning noises when she gets too interested, which she barely acknowledged before, and at least pretends to look the other way.  In those moments, you can almost SEE the thoughts as she’s thinking them:

Jaden: *staring intently at the cat* “Sooooo yummmyyyy…..*drools*  I wonder what she’d taste like….maybe like cheesecake…ooh, no!  Cheesecake with RASPBERRY SAUCE!….and angels….”
Me: “JADEN!  Quit drooling at my cat.”
Jaden: *guiltily glances at me and then away* “I really think that wallpaper clashes with the lamp shade…and that shelf is way too dusty…”

And before you ask, yes, I’ve always had this serene, gentle, almost-telepathic way of communicating with animals.  I’m like frikkin’ St. Francis of Assisi.


1 Comment

Filed under dogs, dogsitting, night ramblings

One response to “Why I rock as a dogsitter

  1. Leilani

    Ok now I want to live with you and Clayton. Just to witness this stuff first hand! You have extra rooms right?

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