Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dogsitting

I babysat a friend's dog. Elsie was going to Kenya on safari for a couple weeks. Now doesn't THAT sound glamorous? I noticed that she did not invite me along, but tried not to be really hurt about it.
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Her dog was named, of all darn things, Poopie. Poopie was a Shih-tzu. This is not a real dog in my book, but understand that we were living in the Washington DC area. There were a lot of things that were not real there in Washington, DC.
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Now, Poopie was old. Real old. He was 24, deaf, blind, he had hardly any teeth. He smelled just awful, and he had hair coming out in big patches. This dog made me just a little squeamish. He had near death experiences probably every month, but Elsie spent a fortune at the vets office to extend her beloved Poopie's life. Elsie was a good friend. Her condominium was downstairs from ours. I was a stay at home mom, so really, there was no excuse to say no to dogsitting.
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I went downstairs for a tutorial in caring for the nearly dead dog. Elsie opened the door to her patio, and Poopie obligingly went out. Elsie explained that you did not have to watch him. He was too old to be interested in wandering. He simply went out, did his business and found his way back in the open door by his sense of smell. So I could put him out, fill his dog dishes, leave him a biscuit, and by then he'd have returned, I'd lock the patio doors, and let myself back out of her apartment. The whole thing maybe 10 minutes from beginning to end. If I did this 4 or 5 times a day, Poopie would be fine. Easy enough.
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For the first week, it was, too. Just like she said. One rainy, windy day, I ran downstairs to do my Poopie duties. He was standing with his little mooshed nose right up to the patio doors. I opened the door and out he waddled, slowly. I went to the kitchen and checked his food and water situation. I set out his highly nutritious dog treat. I returned to the livingroom and was surprised not to see Poopie wandering back. I stepped out of the door and looked into the rain. I didn't see him at all. This was new. I actually stepped out into the rain and looked all around the commons. No Poopie.
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This was a huge complex. I was pretty nervous. How on earth was I going to explain to Elsie that I had lost her nearly dead dog. Whether he was a real dog or not, he was a beloved dog.
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I walked around, getting more and more worried when I couldn't find him, kind of picking up speed as time went on. Next thing I know, I'm actually jogging and calling "POOPIE! POOOOOOOOOOPIE!!!!!!" People looked at me curiously. I ignored them. I mean this wasn't making any sense to me at all. This dog was too frail to have wandered far. He certainly was not the kind of dog anyone would steal. Most people would hesitate to pet him, let alone pick him up and put him in their vehicles. "POOOOOOOOOPIE!"
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After a couple minutes, it occured to me that I was making an ass out of myself for nothing. The dog was deaf. He wasn't going to come running when I called his name. I was just a crazy woman jogging around a condominium complex yelling "Poooooopie!" for no reason at all. Dammit.
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I finally found Poopie. He had his nose pushed up against the patio door of a different condominium in the same complex. There was an Asian family looking out their patio doors with horror, never, apparently, having witnessed the undead before.
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I took off my shoe, and used it to gently herd Poopie back to his own home. I still could not bring myself to pick him up. His wet doggie smell was way worse than his regular doggie smell which was pretty bad to begin with, despite the skin treatments and dietary supplements.
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I spent the rest of Elsie's vacation actually not letting Poopie out of my sight. Too scared. And when I finally got the nerve to tell Elsie what had happened, long after she returned from Kenya, she laughed. "When it is windy or rainy, it confuses his sense of smell. He does lose his way home sometimes then.
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Oh.
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Maybe it's just me, but I really did consider that little bit of information to be important. It would have saved me a lot of trouble.
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And if you are looking for a moral to this story, it would be simple. Don't ever name an animal Poopie. You can never tell when you might have to call it. In public.

2 comments:

Mikey said...

My roommate in college had one named Stash, because she once ate his marijuana stash. 24 hrs she was dopey. I had to call her a few times. Totally embarrassing. But not as bad a Poopie. Geeezus!

PaintedPromise said...

hilarious! but you must have been frantic! i shudder to remember the Christmas day i helped my daughter, who worked kennel at the vet, and accidentally let a dog loose. all's well that ends well but what a horror to go through...