Love is having your dog throw up in the car, and then instead of swearing vehemently NO MORE CAR RIDES EVER, thinking, “Okay, so next time I need to bring an emergency garbage bag.”

My parents are out of town for nine days to go cruise around the Hawaiian islands. I feel like I should be jealous of this, because typically you can say "Hawaiian cruise!" to just about anyone, any time of the year, and they'll respond with "I WANT TO GO!" but 1) the wrenching allure of Hawai'i doesn't work on me because I've spent so much time there for family, and 2) I have no current desire to be stuck on a boat for a week, even if it were a boat the size of a city. Maybe if my parents went backpacking through Europe, then I'd be jealous… and now I can't stop laughing at the image of my parents backpacking together through Europe. I don't think they even own backpacks. They have fannypacks, though. I guess they could go fannypacking through Europe.

But anyway. So my parents are on vacation and I'm house/dog-sitting for them, and my mom's dogs– I can't stand my mom's dogs. They're dust-mop dogs; there's very little about them, physiology aside, that's dog-like, and mostly all they do all day (every day) is sleep on the floor. With the exception of Maya, they don't play fetch, they're not companionable, they don't like to rough-house, they don't come when called and I'm not really sure they even *like* people (unless it's my mom– they stick to her like glue).

They're also not exactly housetrained.

They drive me insane. I can't see the point in them– they're not bright, so they're no good for cute tricks or obedience. They're not fun, so there's no playing with them. They're not loving, so there's no affection to be found from them. These dogs basically have zero return. Also, it's annoying as hell to have to continually be cleaning up after them.

And yet– as exasperated and frustrated and sometimes even furious as I get with them– as their caretaker, I find I can't *not* be kind to them. Twice a day, I come over to change their water and feed them (each has a custom diet) and give one of them an insulin shot, and I bring books or work stuff with me so I can stick around for a few hours so they're not cooped up in the kitchen 24/7. One of them, the least intelligent of the batch, refuses, initially, to eat when I put her dish down, so I sit down next to her and hand-feed her. Twice a day, I'm on hands and knees cleaning the aftermath of their destruction (et cetera).

I'd like to say that I'm only nice to them because my mom loves these dingbat animals so damn much and I don't want it on my shoulders if one of them dies and I didn't do everything I could to make their separation anxiety as minimal as possible– but even if my mom said, hey, just stop by every few days to clean the kitchen and refill the food and water dishes, they're pains in the ass and I don't care if they die while I'm gone… I'd still probably be doing this. Because being locked up in a kitchen from sunup to sundown is no life for a dog, even when the dogs in question are more like dust-mops.

It's strange, still caring about the lives of creatures who do nothing but irritate me. Maybe because they can't help being irritating; they're dogs and they can't change how they are on their own. The stupid one can't help being stupid; the grumpy one can't help being grumpy; they all can't help having dust-mop natures. And I don't know how to communicate to them what kinds of dogs I wished they were– and anyway, they're not my dust-mops to change in the first place. They're my mom's. But I love her, and so maybe by proxy, I love them, too.

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