Now I can finally call myself a Certified Dog Nanny. Sure, I volunteered to care for dogs of friends who were going on a trip before but this is the first time that I am again living with two dogs longer than a few days (we cared for dogs before as a family). Yes, my dear, I have been with these two dogs for three weeks now and two more weeks to go before I finish my “Master’s Degree.”
What is this experience telling me? For one, caring for dogs is comparable to caring for humans. You have to wake up early in the morning because you have to let them out so they can do their weewee and pooh-pooh and then later, prepare their breakfast. Once or twice a week, you have to give them a bath and this is a bit challenging because most dogs (at least to my experience) resist the feeling of wetness on their thick fur. And then you have to keep them company, play with them, or they’d get depressed.
This also tells me much about animal behaviors. Take for instance the case of Luna and Sabbay, the dogs I am caring for right now. Luna is a Yorkshire Terrier, small, cute and cuddly, with long brown and gray hair. She is so well-mannered, balanced, adorable and sweet. She likes to cuddle but stops pestering you if she’s had her usual share of cuddling and caressing already (like most dogs, she enjoys having her tummy scratched or caressed). She sleeps, goes out and runs after the birds, or simply walk around in the garden by herself. She is a perfect companion.
Sabbay, a mixed-breed local dog, is an entirely different story. I even think she’s mentally-deranged (sorry, I love dogs, too, but it was how she behaved in the first years of her life, according to her owner). On the first two or three days, I’d also scratch her tummy just like how I do it for Luna…but later I realized that she thinks this is my fulltime job – to scratch and caress her tummy the whole day! She will not leave me alone. She will follow me relentlessly, even up to the point of threatening to bite all of my feet’s fingers just to have me caress her tummy…Oh my, I told myself, this is a nutty case. When I started saying NO NO NO to her, she would stop chasing me…but only for 15 or 20 minutes. Later, she’d go follow me again, scratching my feet and legs, getting me to caress her tummy. She’d lie flat on the floor and open all her legs to gesture that I should scratch or caress her! Goodness gracious. So this chasing went on and on for about a week. I realized that Sabbay is totally clueless. I think she didn’t take Promil when she was just a puppy because it seems her IQ level is lower than 10. Finally, now on the 3rd week with them, I think she finally got the message that my job is NOT to scratch or hold her the whole day. Now she leaves me alone. She still attempts to have me caress her, especially when I wake up in the morning (she sleeps just outside my door) but even if it makes me sad, I stopped doing it to her altogether because with her state of mind, I think that one “tummy-scratch” and she’d begin thinking again that it’s my sole mission in life – to become her personal massage therapist!
So what is this telling me about animal particularly dog behavior? Well, it seems that with dogs, especially who may be suffering some kind of “mental disturbance” or “anxiety” (I checked the websites and I confirmed that Sabbay’s behavior is a sign of anxiety and psychological problems), the best treatment is not to spoil them and make them think that they are the boss. Had I continued to give Sabbay what she always demanded, she would forever think that she can get what she wants and that she is the boss. Now, when I say NO, she stops. Before, it takes me about 20 NOs for her to stop chasing or pestering me. It was a bit hard for me to do this because I love dogs and I have a soft spot for them. My heart melts whenever a dog looks at me as if wanting me to cuddle her.
However, with my experiences with Sabbay, it seems that not all dogs can be treated in the same way. Sabbay needs a strict, disciplinarian and firm treatment while Luna needs a softer approach. Sabbay needs to be put in her proper place while Luna only needs a little cuddling every now and then and she’d leave you in peace. In fact, right now, as I type this, Luna is outside enjoying the view of the garden while Sabbay is here sleeping near me. Luna seems so sentimental and yet independent (maybe like me?), but Sabbay is needy, dependent and always needs to be around a human being. She never leaves my side. At night, she would sleep outside my door while Luna sleeps near the front door of the main house, a good distance away from me. It is still puzzling me, how these two dogs who are living together are poles apart in their personalities and temperaments, but what the heck, they are still my wards and I should care for them in the best way possible.
This “stint” with them is nice because I also learned to cook a bit. ;D I noticed that they don’t want to eat their food if it was the same as what was served them earlier in the day (yeah, they get tired of food so easily)…so I have to keep in inventing dishes although I must admit that my experience is rather limited. But hey, I learned that they really love marinated meats! They would usually finish their meals fast if it’s marinated overnight. Of course I also feed them the usual dog food because hey, I cannot cook for them all the time. The commercially-available dog food provides variety, one thing that they also need.
These quiet times with the dogs and house-sitting for my friends Tuomo and Karen—their house is big, warm, and cozy–give me much-needed solitude as I try to heal from my broken heart. Some mornings I sip my tea or Vietnamese coffee in the patio outside my room. Some afternoons, I read a book in the gardens (in a swing!) while I watch over my wards. A few times, I have also watched DVDs because they have such a nice collection of foreign films like those from France and Finland (the countries where Karen and Tuomo come from). On a couple of occasions, I have entertained Filipino friends who have visited.
Every morning, I also sweep fallen leaves around the house. Although this is sometimes frustrating because leaves fall all the time! But then again, it is also relaxing to just to take care of this small task every morning. The security guards–yes, we were guarded 24/7–were also attentive and helpful. Sometimes, they will help in sweeping the fallen leaves and I’d shower them with my generosity by serving them hot coffee, which were always returned with such warm and friendly smiles.
Anyway, I have to finish this blog now as I need to cook for my wards…again…catch you later.
[Re-post of a blog dated July 16, 2007 (from my previous site).]
This is not a paid blog.