Dog Sitting Versus Grading


katBy Kat Kiefer-Newman

Last weekend I was dog sitting.

A dear friend was heading up the coast for 2 ½ days and needed someone to check in on his Dachshund, Buddy. I’ve met Buddy several times and think he’s a very sweet little dog. I had no problem agreeing to take care of him for a few days; in fact, I thought I could sneak over to my friend’s apartment and get some work done in quiet and solitude.

I can be very naïve sometimes.

Friday afternoon, after my class ended, I stopped at the apartment to get my friend’s mail, walk the dog, and maybe watch some NetFlix without anyone bugging me. Buddy was excited to see me and we had a fun walk over on the green area. I tossed the Frisbee around a few times, and he mostly caught it and brought it back. The sun was warm, and it was nice being outside after spending all morning in the classroom. He rolled around in the grass and sniffed at all the bushes, and then we headed back home.

I set up my laptop on the coffee table and got out the complicated remote system to try and figure out how to watch a movie. A drowsy Buddy curled up contentedly at my feet. It was an hour later when I gave up in frustration. I needed caffeine. I went into the kitchen to pour a glass of Diet Coke and get a snack for myself.

When I got back to the living room Buddy was missing. Oblivious to the pending doom I sat down and worked on grading, building my online class modules, and updating the grade book. A yip and doggy-shriek alerted me to the disaster. Buddy wasn’t gone at all; Buddy was under the coffee table chewing on my laptop power cord. He tore out from under the table, between my feet, and down the hall. I chased after him wanting to make sure he was all right. I think he’d only gotten a shock on his nose, but wanted to tell my friend what had happened. I called and called, but got no answer.

The doorbell rang. Buddy started barking and growling. When I tried to pull him back from the door he snapped at me. He’d never done that and my friend hadn’t said he was a biter. With the dog jumping at my extended foot I opened the door. It was someone at the wrong apartment. Buddy took the open-door opportunity to run and be free. This was another little personality trait my friend hadn’t mentioned. I remembered to grab the leash and tore off after the dog. I called and whistled until I was hoarse. The dog always seemed to be just ahead of me. He happily chewed on animal poo and barked at the neighborhood kids. Time passed, maybe I was chasing this dumb dog that entire weekend. He finally tired out and I was able to click the leash on and drag him back home.

That night, my daughter stopped by to play with the dog. She admitted later that she’d given him non-approved treats: crackers, chips and salsa, Pepper Jack cheese, and who knows what else. When I stopped by in the morning to walk and feed him, I saw the worst mess on the patio, across the living room floor, and down into the hallway. He’d had diarrhea and had peed everywhere. No wall corner was safe, no area of carpet untouched. I was happy it was Saturday so I didn’t have to rush off to classes.

I also noticed during the night he’d eaten part of a remote. Maybe worse, he’d torn up some of the carpet and somehow chewed a hole in the linoleum.

Except for that brief hour or so of grading and getting work done, I never did finish. Buddy had taken hold of my weekend and chewed it along with everything else that he hadn’t pooed or peed on. I think I will be on my own out of town trip next time anyone asks me to dog sit.

About the Juggler: Kat Kiefer-Newman currently teaches as an adjunct instructor at two colleges in two different departments. In addition to her busy working (and driving) schedule she attends conferences presenting her research, is in the last stages of finishing her Ph.D., takes care of her elderly father, has recently packed up and sent off to college her second daughter, chats in status updates with her students on Facebook, does not hand out her cell phone number to said students despite their pleadings, and in her spare time she plays in her organic veggie garden. (And though she will never admit it, she also enjoys reading trashy vampire novels.)

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