So, after Flexxy the hamster’s sad demise and interment, there was a bit of a lull. Then the second born took up the song of a pet. She was fixated on a cat. Her aunt had one. The neighbours had one, and so did some of her friends. As far as she could tell, cats were pretty, and pretty self sufficient too. I had nothing against cats, but husband vetoed the entire scheme before it had even lifted off. Aside of not being a pet person, he particularly didn’t care for felines, and brought up the very logical argument that leather sofas and claws didn’t mix too well.
She tried another tack. How about if she made sure….so very sure….that the cat never clambered on the sofas. He merely raised his eyebrows, and offered to buy her another hamster instead. There were tears, there were tantrums, there were accusations of favouring the eldest. How about a dog? The eldest offered helpfully, adding more woe to the mix. Mummy could help, as mummy had kept dogs through out her childhood. Well, that was true. But seeing as I had, I also knew of the care that went into looking after a canine. The potty training, the teething,the destruction that went along with the teething, the daily walks, the heartbreak of losing a dog to cancer or Parvo or some unpronounceable dog disease. Mummy was definitely not in favour of getting a dog.
At this point a friend stepped in, and offered up a brilliant solution.
His friends were going away for the weekend, and were looking for a dog sitter. If the girls were that keen on getting a dog, why didn’t they try this one out for size? It would be like a little taster session, and the dog could be their responsibility entirely for those two nights.
Come D day, they were bursting with excitement. Lily, the dog, a small Welsh terrier, arrived with her accoutrements which consisted of her dog bowl, dog food and her leash. When we enquired about her bed, her owners airily informed us that she slept with them.Of course.I smiled and nodded, all while I could hear the cogs whirring in the other half’s upper storey, and quickly despatched them, wishing them a pleasant weekend ahead.
“There is NO way that dog is sleeping in our bed!!”, roared the hubster on their departure.
I pacified him by suggesting we could pull out the sofa bed downstairs and the girls could sleep there with the dog. (I struggle with the word bitch, so bear with the gender anomaly). All seemed well.
Lily was a jumpy little number. Within the hour she’d managed to exhaust both the girls with her endless supply of energy, her inexhaustible appetite for ‘fetch’, her obvious curiosity of her surroundings, and her frequent forays into the garden to relieve herself. This was getting interesting.
The next morning, I awoke at 4am to get ready for work. I tiptoed downstairs, in order not to wake the occupants of the front room. Lo and behold! Three pairs of eyes stared at me as one tail welcomed my arrival.
“We haven’t slept a wink mummy”, groaned the younger.
“Why is that?”
“Well, she keeps going round and round in circles. Then she settles down for ten minutes. Then she wakes up at some noise, and does it all over again!”
“And she’s SO smelly”, chimed in the older. “She keeps farting!”
Inwardly amused, I empathised vocally, and let Lily out into the back garden to do her business, while reminding them that they would have to clear her mess tomorrow, as daddy was not picking up any faeces for anyone.
Knowing quite clearly which way this was going, I left for the weekend, leaving one antipathetic man and two exhausted children to deal with a bright eyed pooch.
They fed her, they walked her, they kept her company outside Waitrose, in the cold, while daddy shopped. They tried to hold her down in the car, when she excitedly tried climbing into the driver’s seat, sending the car swerving. They picked up her poop at regular intervals. They played ball till they were on their haunches with fatigue. They put up with her flatulent ways, and they barely slept. Come Sunday, they returned her to the owners with an overwhelming sense of relief.
I returned to an unusually silent house, a bottle of wine (three quarters consumed) that the owners had brought as a thank you, and two shell shocked children. Needless to say, it went very very quiet for a while.