Thinking Out Loud: The pet sitter

My daughter is now an empty nester. Courtney moved to Syracuse, Kyle moved to Colorado, and Aidan bought a house on the other side of town. 

You know what that means don’t you? I’m the official pet sitter. 

In November alone, I had to sit while my daughter and her husband went to visit her brother (my son), and again when they went to visit Kyle (their son), and again for a week while her whole family (minus Kyle) went to Florida, or should I say, Disney World. Not once did they recognize the jealousy dripping off my face.

At one time in my life I was the taker. Now I’m the one left behind. Sigh.

I have this pet sitting down to a science. Feed and water a happy, dancing Marley — and while he is chomping away, I run upstairs and feed and water Miss Kitty — on a window sill, or else Marley will finish that off for her, too. Ask me how I know this.

Then I let him out on his run and play my games until he wants back in.

One night, I came in to no dancing and a disinterested Marley. He only wanted water. That told me he’d gotten into something he shouldn’t have. I hoped it wasn’t poisonous. I went up to feed Miss Kitty and her bag of food was missing. I found it crammed up against a wall with barely one serving in it. That rascal Marley had eaten her food and was suffering the consequences.

This last time they left me a note. “Please keep Marley off the furniture.”

Yeah, right. I’m supposed to keep a dog that clearly outweighs me, and has a stubborn streak and sharp teeth, off the two couches. They always put on blankets and sheets and he always takes them off no matter how many times I tell him not to.

And I wondered why they didn’t think to do what I was about to do. I picked up the ottoman and flipped it onto one end of the couch. Then I went to the kitchen and brought in two stools, intertwining the legs along the rest of the couch. Marley looked disgusted with me.

I then dragged two very heavy dining room chairs in for the loveseat, again intertwining the legs. Now, Marley was mad. He barked at me. Chills run up my spine when he does this, and I said, “Where’s your ball?”

And he said, “Exactly! Where is my ball?”

So, I looked under both couches. No ball. Sensing trouble, I said, “Buh-bye” before he could retaliate.

The barricades worked, but the missing ball was a matter of contention between me and Marley. He was bored and told me so. I was secretly grateful that I didn’t have to keep fishing the stupid ball out from under the couches every five minutes — with him trying to occupy the same space as me, but sad for him. So I looked again. It is a bright green lacrosse ball, the only thing they have found so far that he can’t destroy, even though he makes a living out of losing it.

I saw something round and green under the coffee table and swooshed it out. He pounced on it incredibly fast, took it to his bed and began shredding it. Every time I tried to get it away from him he ran off. At one point he dropped it, it rolled under the couch, and I swept it out, keeping it under the broom so he couldn’t see it. Then I took it to a table along with all the pieces and sent a picture to my daughter, saying, “Whatever this was, it isn’t anymore.”

Determined, and encouraged by his barking at the floor under the couch, I scoured every inch and there it was, hiding behind a back leg of the couch. Oh happy day! (For Marley at least.)

Then my daughter sent me a video of a moment they’d had down there, and the video brings tears to my eyes each time I watch it.

It begins with Aidan telling his girlfriend to look at something ahead, then he drops to one knee and waits for her to turn around, with the little black box extended.

She said yes.