Something has changed when we travel....
We have a dog.
Boss spends a weekend with Chewie and IChi at risk for being fed things like broccoli to keep regular and cooked chicken because that’s what little dogs like while he terrorizes IChi into her pink house all weekend long while nervously upsetting Chewie for getting near his girl.
Or, Boss spends weekend with Grandma Janet.
Let’s try Grandma first.
I send the e-mail out to my mom early in the week – Boss is excited about spending a weekend with grandma, it’s all he can talk about. I also send directions on how to care for Boss; two half cups of food per day, enjoys chewing on rawhide sticks, should not be trusted on upper levels of the house, has a thing for strings, prone to pulling the blankets out of his crate, enters puppy witching hours between 8 – 9 pm, tries to engage you in play by growling, at least once a day may be found dominating his red blanket.
An e-mail comes back:
Nervously awaiting Boss’ stay.
Nervous and my mother go hand in hand. Growing up in a major city will do this to you. Lock the car doors, don’t run the dryer when you aren’t home, unplug things while you are on vacation. My mother is convinced she will find herself trapped in her home poisoned by carbon dioxide emitted from a locked dryer door – a dryer that should have been unplugged in the first place.
But still she is terribly cooperative and supportive of most of the foolish choices I make. Like buying a dog when Chris and I spend at least 4 days each month in some faraway place. She agrees to try to care for Boss and in her best teacher voice reviews his care directions with me.
Packing for a training weekend away is hard enough – packing to send a dog to Grandma’s house is even harder. Baggies with measured cups of food, rawhide sticks to pass the time, all of his favorite toys including squeaky duck, rope pull, squeaky ball and brand new favorite – squeaky carrot. Plus his prized possession – tiny nub of rawhide bone that he has been chewing on for weeks. Add on top of this the blankets, clothes (after all you cannot send a 6 lb dog into -3 degrees without a proper thermal outfit), gates, bed, crate, leash, bag, and don’t forget – Boss himself.
Thursday, it seems that Boss senses he is going away. The Sherpa Bag sits on the kitchen counter and he starts barking at it. It doesn’t matter where the bag is going he wants in. I realize he is communicating his utter excitement to me and also realize if I don’t contain it he will end up excitedly peeing all over the kitchen floor. So I put the Sherpa Bag on the floor and he jumps right in. Sits in it for the next hour. He can’t wait.
Later that evening, we go to Grandma’s house. I decide to stay to see how the transition goes. Grandma is nervous. Because it’s not just Boss. Enter one ancient, smelly, neurotic spotted pooch – Cookie. Cookie may be 14 years old, can’t see or hear a damn thing but when Boss arrives she knows something is amok. Something that will disrupt her nightly routine of sitting next to her mom on the couch or eating Mr. Barky’s in the kitchen or laying on her bed. Yes, Cookie, change is near and his name is….Boss.
Boss may be the size of Cookie’s head but he lets her know right away that he is the boss. The first mistake comes when Cookie approaches (as in looks in the direction of) Boss’ crate. The next comes when Cookie nearly has the shit scared out of her as Boss darts by to catch squeaky ball. Then she makes the mistake of sniffing squeaky ball.
BARK, GROWL, YIP!
Boss is on the defense. No one will approach his house. Nor squeaky ball. Nor his blankets. Especially the red one that he has a special place for humping at least once a day. I decide Boss, like most little dogs, needs larger territory. An entire room in the back of the house for his crate and toys. He quickly realizes this is his new home, grabs his tiny nub of bone and runs back to the room to play. He teaches himself to leap on to the couch and then demands our attention.
My mom seems skeptical that the pairing of Cookie and Boss will work. But we have no choice. We are already hauling enough stuff to San Diego and Boss simply cannot come. Besides if we have to pay one more extra fee to bring something on to a plane we will surely go broke.
I tell my mother it’s only 4 days. And besides how much trouble can 6 lbs of dog make? She still seems nervous. So I give her an out. If it gets really bad take Boss to Chris’ parents house. They will know what to do. Not really but at least it’s a Plan B.
Friday, I get an e-mail from my mom. Boss was in his crate all day while I was at work. He is doing ok. Right now he is in the basement doing his crazy laps.
I am glad to hear he has settled in and is doing his crazy laps – a sure sign that he feels at home. Later that evening, I call my mom just to be sure things are really going ok.
“Boss won’t eat his food from his bowl,” my mom says.
What do you mean he won’t eat his food?
“He will only eat it if I throw it on the laundry room floor.”
My mom has a pattern of quirky feeding rituals with dogs. Recall several years ago when Cookie would wake up at 2 am and the only way to make her go back to sleep was to sprinkle Cheerio's on her bed. AT 2 AM! So this is not really what I need - a dog that learns only to eat when kibble is scattered on a laundry room floor while I simultaneously hop on one foot and sing him a song.
“And he only drinks water from Cookie’s bowl.” You mean the bowl she steps in and dumps over at least a dozen times a day? If that's the case then he's not drinking much water. Send him to his own bowl. But all quirkiness of eating and drinking aside, things are going well. So when I check in on Saturday, I expect to hear the same.
Not the case.
An urgent e-mail comes in:
This has been the day from hell. It is – 3 degrees here and nobody wants to go outside. So there are potty accidents all over the house. Boss got mad at Cookie and peed on her bed. Cookie then couldn't hold it and peed on the kitchen floor and collapsed into it which made Boss bark. Boss won’t let Cookie sit on the couch. They both want my attention. These two dogs do not work well together.
Oh boy. One day with two dogs in negative 3 degrees and my mom has cracked. I send her my support. It’s only two more days. Put Boss in the crate. Control him. *He is only 6 lbs*
The next day I call my mom. She is in her bathroom with Boss. He is in his Sherpa Bag. In less than a day she has devised an entire routine to manage herself, Cookie and Boss that involves careful timing of trips outside, scattering of kibbles, delivery of Mr. Barky’s treats, and select use of the Sherpa Bag. In other words, Boss has seen a lot of his bag. Like a portable prison cell. It contains him plus oddly enough he seems to like it.
In the background I hear Boss barking.
“He is mad that I am not talking to him,” she says. She goes on to tell me how Boss is calm as long as she is in view. Which has sort of complicated shower time. But fear not - my mom - the science teacher - has this problem solved. “I found that when I am in the shower if I open the shower door and wave my hand he quiets down.”
Oh My God.
"STOP CHEWING ON YOUR BLANKET IN THAT BAG!" she yells in her best mother/teacher voice that I know very well.
Yelling quickly turns back into love. She goes on about how Boss is a very smart dog, very smart (emphasis she added). He tells you when he needs to go out and he listens to what you say. Note that for years Cookie also had magical powers to tell my mother when my brother was coming home - Cookie would look towards the garage door which would then cause my mother to get up to look at the garage door meanwhile Cookie would mischieviously steal something like an entire loaf of bread from the table.
She then tells me about toys she has bought him and special rawhide treats. And of course Boss likes the bones she bought him better than mine. This is typical grandparent talk. But I am glad to hear things have settled down and see this as a sign that she would be willing to care for him again.
On Monday night, we head to my mom’s house to pick up Boss. We arrive and the house is quiet. Boss is in his crate. My mother happily gets Boss and walks him up to us. He immediately goes to Chris (I am only slightly offended by this move) and then he comes over to me. It is time to take him home.
So the weekend at Grandma’s was – for the most part – a success. Other than squeaky monkey who unfortunately lost a leg, nothing else was destroyed. And that’s a good thing. Because it’s already on Grandma’s calendar to watch Boss on February 23rd.
And Boss can’t wait. When I told him, he jumped right back into his bag.
Thanks, mom, for watching little Boss.