24 hours with someone elses puppy…
“Would you possibly be able to come and look after our puppy next Saturday night?”The request was made hesitantly, as if I may not want to take on this (awesome) task. Babysit? A 4 month old labrador puppy? In a big victorian villa? All by myself? Hmmm….. let me think about that…….. ABSOLUTELY!
Looking after someone else’s dog is a major responsibility. Dogs love routine so its important that this is kept as close to normal as possible. Ozzy’s schedule still includes plenty of sleep, interspersed with full on awake time, so I needed to be on my toes, but would also be able to gather my breath several times in my 24 hour shift, with a bit of luck.
It is humbling and an absolute honour to spend one-to-one time with a dog you don’t know well. Every dog is different, and understanding their individual communication styles takes observation, patience and sensitivity. Ozzy has a youthful exuberance that can be overwhelming, but is also the sweetest, cuddliest puppy to hang out with.
It’s impossible to ignore a puppy for very long. Why would you want to anyway? They crave company and chances to learn, need time to explore with nose, eyes, paws and teeth, they need to play, to follow you to the toilet, trip you up and steal the best spot on the sofa. I have never understood why people get a dog for company and then ignore it for the majority of the day. Puppies can’t walk very far for fear of doing damage to growing limbs, so time must be invested in other activities.
Ozzy and I played ball, had over exciting games of tug, spent a long time looking for his dinner that I sprinkled liberally all over the floor (deliberately!), even more time tickling tummies and chins (him, not mine), tried out some new tricks and snuggled up on the sofa together watching Netflix and snoozing. A whole new (and infinitely preferable) version of Netflix and Chill. He did struggle a bit going to bed and we had a couple of extra midnight trips to the freezing outside to empty bowels and bladder (him, not me,) and a couple of changes of dog bed-organisation before he finally settled down and gave us both 7 hours of much needed sleep. I swear he grew a little in the night.
The greatest pleasures? Seeing his lithe and growing body wriggle from head to toe in ecstatic greeting this morning. The infinite silkiness of a labrador ear I got to stroke as he nestled up beside me. Seeing him smile with his whole body as we played and played and played. Together we walked a bit, talked a bit, nurtured our individual needs and souls a bit. Its possible he has made more of an impact on me than vice versa, but I am deeply grateful to his owner for trusting me with their beautiful boy and giving me the chance to get to know him, and his species, just a little bit better.