Archive for May, 2010

The Dog Days of Winter

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

I registered myself on a Czech website for dog walkers and sitters.

Two weeks ago some lady calls.

“Good afternoon,” says the lady. “This is Ms. Petra and I found your contact information on the Dog Walker and Sitter site.”

“Oh wow,” I say amazed. “I just looked yesterday and my contact information wasn’t up yet.  That’s great, how can I help you.”

“Well, I have two dogs and I go on a lot of trips,” Petra hesitated. “I’m looking for a dog sitter for the last minute trips that I go on.”

“OK” I say.

“What do you do?” she asks.

“Well, I work from home,” I say. “I’m available pretty much whenever.”

“Great,” she says. “Because I’m leaving for a trip in 3 days.”

“Oh, okay.”

“What kind of dogs do you sit?” Petra asks.

“Well, honestly this is the first time I’m doing this,” I say.  “I didn’t even know that my contact information was up yet. So any dog, I guess.”

“Perfect,” she says. “Well, I have two dobermans.  Will that be a problem?”

Trying to fend off a negative predisposition against dobermans I say (surprisingly) excitedly, “Sure no problem.” If I want to try this out for real then I can’t turn down any dog. I think.

“Great can you come by this Saturday and you can get a feel for the dogs?” Petra asks.

“Sure.” I say still excited that somebody actually called.  I guess it’s a done deal, since she leaves the following day. I think.

****

Saturday Marek and I arrive to her apartment.  I couldn’t find her name on the buzzer so I called.

“Good afternoon.  This is Suzy, I’m here for the dog sitting.”

BBBBBBBBBBZZZZZZZZZZZ

The door unlocks and we push through.

I look at Marek and whisper, “She said something about suterén. What does suterén mean?”

Marek smiles and says, “Basement.”

As soon as we made it to the stairwell the faint smell of dog seeped up from the basement floor, backing up Marek’s definition.

The door at the foot of the stairwell, opened.  Two jet black massive muscular dobermans ran up the stairs to inspect who had came.  One of them in pure excitement to greet me, jumped up and nearly toppled me over.

“Hello, I’m Suzy,” I extended my hand. “I brought my boyfriend over as we are headed to another meeting after this, I hope that is okay.”

“Of course.” she said, extending a hand also to Marek. “VIK! VIK!” she screamed at one of the dobermans so he’d stay down.

Oh God, what did I get myself into. I think as the dobermans continue to swarm around us.

She points to the male dog and introduces him as, Viktor and Vik for short.  She then points to the female and introduces her as Nellie or Nell for short.  She raddels off a few instructions concerning their food, how often they are feed, that I should refill the 6 water bowls each day, that she believes the Nell is pregnant and if she were to get sick then I should wash her blankets and that she will mark the cages with their names for me.

“Are you ready to take a exercise walk with them?” she asks.

“Sure,” I say.

“Okay well grab a collar,” Petra says matter of factly.

I look over to the wall of chains.  It looks like a mini torture tool department.  I was confused with the array of choke collar options.  I had about 8 to choose from, anything from 1 foot to 1.5 foot long slip collars, to a purple fabric choke, chain collars and a prong collar.

Out of shock I was fixated on the prong collar.  I’ll bypass this torture device.  I wouldn’t have the faintest idea of how to put on this blunted spike collar. Yikes. I think.

I reached out to the only collar I felt comfortable with and thought would do the job, the choke collar.

“Vik, sit down!” I command.

Overjoyed with excitement he attempts to sit, but halfway through decides he won’t.

“Sit down!” I shout again. “Vik, sit down!”

“You should say his name then the command and never should you repeat the command.” Petra commands.

I frown in wonderment, well you gotta say it more then once if he doesn’t listen, right?

I get the chock collar on Vik and say, “This purple one looks nice.”

“That is the only one that belongs to Nel,” she says. “Make sure she is the only one that wears it.”

“OK” I say.

“Now put on their muzzles,” she dictates.

I look down on the floor below the collars and see three muzzles.  I pick one up and start to unlatch the binding.

“No!” Petra claims. “You just need to slip it over their heads.”

“We are just not used to metal muzzles,” pipes in Marek. “Our dog always had a soft leather one, but he hardly wore it, as he hated it.”

I redo the buckle and am about to slip it over anxious Vik.

“You put his collar on wrong.” Petra says.

Can you really screw up putting on a chock collar? I think. I’m gonna need to research that when I get home.

She pulls off the collar and shows me how it is supposed to sit on the neck.  I look over at Marek and notice that we are both confused.  Shaking it off I go to put the muzzle on Nel.  Both dogs are dancing by the door, more then eager to go holding out during this lengthy collar procedure.  Surprisingly there are only 2 nylon leashes.  I grab the longer one and click it onto Vik and click the shorter one onto Nel.

I’m holding the loops of the ends and Petra opens the door.  We launch into the stairwell.  Out in head place is Vik Victor, followed on close and tight by Nel’s Nikes and dragged up from the rear Sucker Suzy.

Outside I feel as if I’m the sleigh being dug into the ground by 4 horses, 2 on each side, as they plow me to the park.  Within a few seconds into the park, Petra instructs me to take off their leashes.  I look at her quizzically and think, really?

She instructs them to both sit and has me take off the leads.  “Volno (free)!” yells Petra.

The dogs lightning strike each other as they zip and reel past pedestrians, children and fellow dogs at 50MPH.  As they nearly fall out of vision, Petra says,”Tell them to come back.”

I conjure up all voice possible and yell, “Poj’d sem!”

“Louder!” screams Petra.

“Poj’d sem (Come here)!!” I bark out.

“You have to use a prompter!  You have to say, Vik, Nel poj’d sem.” she instructs.

“Vik, Nel poj’d sem!” I yell.

The dogs are torpedo bound, my direction.  I lift up my left leg slightly, ready to jab the first dog in the chest…if needed.  Vik jumps up at me and I do just that.  The dog is all muscle and teeth!

The dogs start to run off again.

“Poj’d, poj’d.” I practice.

“No, you have to only say the command once,” says Petra. “They are trained to do the command when spoken only once.  Any more will confuse them.”

“Vik, Nel poj’d!” I yell.

Nothing.

I look at Petra and shrug my shoulders.

Petra peers out for the beastly combo and upon locating their coordinates, leers at me, “Never say, Poj’d” when they are in front of you.  Use only Poj’d sem when they are in front of you and if they are behind you, you should only say Poj’d!”

“Okay.” I mumble.

The dogs make a usurp some shrubbery where they drop their brown load.  Petra goes to pick it up, while the dogs continue to swarm around each other, flexing their jaws with deep guttural growling expounding.

I’d really hate to see what playing doesn’t look like, I think.

“Practice some more,” says Petra as we make the final round around the park.

“Vik, Nel poj’d sem!”

Vik and Nel explode in my direction and zip right past me.  “Poj’d!” I say.  They come back in my general direction and swarm around me.

“If you want them to come all the way to you, you have to say, k mne,” says Petra.  “Make sure you have treats to give them, too!”

“Vik, Nel k mne!” I yell.  They abruptly come to me and sit!  Wow, that is amazing, I think.  I am a dog walker!