It is day one of our dog sitting escapades. Abe is in his element. He’s been asking for a Chihuahua for nigh on 6 months, ever since we saw an article in his Grandparent’s newspaper, commenting on the amount of ‘handbag dogs’ now abandoned and living in Battersea Dog’s home. Not the breed I imagine to live there. I picture Pit Bulls and cockney Bulldogs, like Bullseye from Oliver Twist, with their gob irons playing mournful tunes and tattooing each other’s faces and paws.
We googled top 10 dogs for kids, seriously contemplating adding another member to our family, and learnt they’re not the best for toddlers,so now Abe states maturely, “when I’m a man I’m going to have a Chihuahua.” And judging by his determination and staying power with his infatuations, when he’s a man, he’ll have a Chihuahua. When Abe left Alma Park school, possibly one of the toughest aspects of our Levy life to leave behind, his teachers and classmates made him a farewell book. A colourfully laminated portfolio of Abe’s 2 terms: photos of him exploring with his best mates, Nell, Ty, and Omar, and lots of amazing pencil drawings his 3 and 4 year old pals had drawn him, with thoughtful emotive messages written by the teachers. They’d carefully cut out pictures of…. can you guess? Yes, Chihuahua’s. A little piece of my heart floated away that day, and resides in his old classroom. I haven’t been able to look at his book properly because it has the same affect on me as the ending of West Side Story: “…there’s a place for us….” O God stop it. (This is currently my number one song to be played at my funeral, I’m toying with the Tom Wait’s version, though its maybe a bit too Muppet Show sounding and it’s the tune I want you all to cry at before I lift you with something lighter like Bjork’s ‘Play Dead’ (just kidding), rather than the tune you look quizically at one another, ‘I didn’t know she was so into Kermit the Frog?!’
So when our friend’s were going on a little trip, we happily agreed to dog sit for 2 lovely pooches, a Spaniel, Bert, and a big old dog, Rex. I could tell how happy the kids were because they were over the top nice to the cleaner, Mai, “Thank you for cleaning!” Abe shouts as she says goodbye and leaves for the day. Back home at our serviced apartment they kind of growl as the hired help replenish our towels, and I cringe and over compensate by smiling and bowing, my hands together in prayer(?). I need one of my many cutting friends to reality check me and ask, ‘Natalie, what ARE you doing?’ I want to teach the kids humility and gratitude in a non-shouty way. If you know how I achieve this, please advise. While you’re at it, if you also know how to ensure Abe never wants to join the military, add that too. I think my over-reactions added to the giggling politeness of the victims here, is the thrill for the kids, or perhaps they just want me to bow lower. (I hope I’m not coming over all “We Need To Talk About Kevin”, they’re actual saints in some circles.)
As I watch Abe playing with Bert and the tennis ball, Bert licks Abe’s face. “No Bert! You lick your own willy”. Ah ha, so he does listen after all. Also Bert is put on the step for one minute for chewing on a cushion, a new skill the dog’s acquired while in our care, and proof that Supernanny has made some kind of an impact.
One morning we awaken to our boy shuffling into our room and hear Patti chunnering away in the distance. “What’s Patti doing?” I slur half asleep, it’s 6am. “She’s feeding Bert bones”. “What!” I shout, now alert. We dart into action narrowly avoiding the dollops of poo on the varnished floor. James goes to Bert, I gag in the background. Bert is bewildered and hasn’t eaten, or rather has had his fill of dog bones. I hop scotch through the turd and swoop away the kids to wash their feet, shout at them and exile them to the bedroom. James deals with the mess. Equality. Ol’ Rex can’t be blamed for the mishap, he’s a pensioner, and I’m sure when we’re pensioners someone will clean up after….(say no more, ey?)
The dog sitting is an overall success, the maid doesn’t quit and neither dog leaps to their death off the balcony. There have been highs and lows, but its been a major love-in of Lennon/Ono proportions. If this had been a test to decide whether we are ready for a pooch in our lives, the answer is not yet, but it will happen. Abe and Patti are obsessed, talking about the dogs with the levels of love they express when we talk about their Grandparents and their little mates back home. The day after feels like a comedown.