“And They Called It Puppy Love”- Practice Your Babysitting Skills on Your Grand-dog…
I’m sick and tired of people suggesting that maybe I am not a “Dog Person.” This really gets my goat (making me a Goat Person?) I’m not sure there is even such a thing as NOT being a Dog Person. Literally everyone in the world is a Dog Person, aren’t they? Why do people even bother to go around bragging “I am a dog person!” If you are a person at all, you’re probably a Dog Person. I’ll go out on a limb and wager even your common everyday Serial Killers are dog people.
Quite simply, Human Beings are obsessed with dogs.
Which is why what happened to me last week was so terribly disconcerting. My daughter asked me to babysit her new puppy for the day. That’s not the really upsetting part. The really upsetting part was that she came right out and said that asking ME was her last resort. It seems that the Preferred Puppy-Grandmother (her husband’s mom) was out of town, so they were fresh out of daycare options and were exploring available alternatives. The only thing more humiliating than being picked last (I got a belly full of that in junior high P.E. class) was that she went on to imply that I might not be properly motivated or qualified to tend to the needs of a young puppy.
Does she know who I even am? It’s Me – Mommy! Her very own mother, for the love of God. I may not have been any good at _______ (insert name of any sport where a Team Captain was choosing teams) but I excelled my entire life at addressing the wants and needs of Small Needy Things, starting with her. One can only assume that this pint-sized dog will be exactly like my kids, only covered in fur and nice.
After I recovered from my justified righteous indignation, I realized that, if my children truly feel that I can’t be trusted with their pets, this may not bode well for my prospects as an Actual-Babysitter-of-Actual-Grandchildren down the road. So, I did what any reasonable Start-up Day Care facility would do. I obtained a copy of the “Activity Log” of one of the more established Hoity-Toity Baby Day Cares in our town and I structured my little charge’s day as similarly as possible.
Language and Literacy : We read “Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear?” By Eric Carle. This helped the tiny Labrador to understand that dogs are not the only animal in the universe
We counted her puppy toys, concluding that she has way too many…
Learning to share is so critical to social development…
Physical Activity (aka P.E. Class):
We used a rolling pin in this engaging exercise of chase and be chased! A tail-waggin’ good time was had by all.
They picked their puppy up by 5 pm. I poured myself a glass of wine and looked back over my busy day. I’m feeling pretty good about things.
There’s no doubt that I established my credibility in several key areas:
-By demonstrating such an abundance of unnecessary enthusiasm, I feel that I’ve cleared up the “Dog Person” debate once and for all.
-By demonstrating my broad range of capabilities, I don’t need to lay awake at night fretting that my children won’t include me in their future puppy care needs.
And, as a bonus, I’ve proven I’ll go the extra mile to edge out any and all other Grandma competition, when the time comes…
“Freedom’s Just Another Word For Nothin’ Left to Lose”*
*Warning: May not be suitable for all readers due to violent content!
Throughout my entire adult life I’ve remained baffled and a bit envious of other families and their affinity for pets. So many of my friends and family members enjoy mutually satisfying relationships with various members of the domesticated animal kingdom. I suppose I owe my children a heartfelt apology that I have never fully or successfully enriched their young lives by integrating animals into our household. I blame this unfortunate legacy entirely on The Gerbil Incident of 1974…
At some point in the early 70s, Gerbils became enormously popular as pets in the United States. Kids and their parents couldn’t flock to pet stores fast enough to complete their image of ideal domestic tranquility with a cage full of these unique kangaroo-style rats. We were no different. The only problem is that I have never been able to extricate myself from the Tragic Pet Curse I was apparently born under.
A day or two after I discovered not one, but both of my gerbils, Napoleon and Josephine, rock hard with rigor-mortis, my mother took me to get a replacement which I promptly named Mr. Lincoln. Don’t ask me why I was so enamored with naming my gerbils after famous people in history, I just was – that’s all. I proceeded to beg my mom for permission to take Mr. Lincoln to school the next day for Show and Tell. She didn’t fancy the idea on several levels – Permission Denied.
The convenient thing about having a mom that worked outside the home was that a kid enjoyed a fair amount of latitude with respect to total 100% adherence and obedience. Getting my way in this situation was as easy as waiting until Doris pulled out of the driveway for work, hooking the handle of Mr. Lincoln’s cage to the handlebars of my bicycle and taking off for school. I was pedaling away in earnest, heading due west on Rainforest Drive, when the bottom tray of the cage slid out. As Mr. Lincoln hit the asphalt, his horizons were instantaneously broadened amidst a shower of cedar shavings. So shocked was he by his unexpected and unanticipated freedom, that he began to scurry about in alarm. I ditched my bike on the curb and went after him.
For those of you who have never attempted to manually capture a distraught rodent on a peaceful neighborhood street, I can tell you the task is fraught with difficulty. Every time I thought I had him within reach, he would hop out of my grasp. I knew I had to be smarter and quicker than he was. The next time I got within range of him, I anticipated his response and lunged forward just as he cleverly attempted to side-step me. In a bizarre twist of fate, the trauma of which has never been replicated before or since in my existence, my shoe slipped out from under me, coming down on him and crushing his tiny whiskered skull. I only thought he was upset before. Now he was in full-fledged panic mode; hopping about, spurting blood like an actor in a B horror film. I don’t recall if he screamed, but I certainly did, as blood spattered like modern art all over my white uniform shirt. I can still remember his beady little eyes locking into mine as if to say, “How did it come to this? I trusted you.”
Needless to say, this catastrophe has haunted me throughout my life. On the one hand, it translated into a positive behavioral investment ushering me obediently through the turbulent teen years. When Doris told me I couldn’t drink alcohol or smoke pot, I said, “Yes Mam” and never once considered crossing her. But, unfortunately I’ve never been even remotely successful at owning pets. Alas, it’s truly the only thing that’s stood in the way of me being the perfect mother.
I also get pretty sketched-out by Modern Art.