adventures in dog sitting

My mom has always been allergic to anything that sheds. That includes more animals than you think and she was never really a fan of my sister and I having pets. My roommates and I briefly had a chinchilla in college but I wasn’t the primary caretaker. Since I hadn’t really developed any deep bonds with animals, I didn’t see how animals could be very potent mirrors.

I had the opportunity to dog sit my family friends’ (more like family, just not blood-related) dogs for about a week. They had two chihuahuas named Frank and Mies (after architects 🙂 ). I was staying with my family in San Francisco as I was looking for a job and everyone was out of the house for a week. The dogs aren’t a big fan of strangers, especially men (?), so I was happy to help because they had grown used to me.

I was given basic feeding and care instructions. They aren’t high maintenance and are very self reliant. As I filled out job applications and went on interviews during the day, nothing happened. I would come back, feed them at 6 pm sharp and thought since I followed the instructions that everything would go swimmingly. Not at all.

At around 7/8 p.m. they would start barking. I had no idea what was going on. There were no instructions for what seemed to happen at dusk! I would come downstairs to see what was happening. As I said before, they don’t like strangers and even bark when the landscapers come so I thought there were people outside, which freaked me out because there wasn’t a good reason for anyone to be out there. As soon as I came downstairs, they calmed down, ran into the living room and sat on the couch like nothing happened. I watched them for a couple minutes out of curiosity and went back upstairs. The barking ensued again so I came back and thought maybe they wanted their treat-chews so I gave them those, took them out, and put them to bed.

The next evening, the same thing happened. At around the same time they started barking incessantly. I reread the instructions and I was giving them enough food, taking them out, they were being walked so I couldn’t figure out why they seemed to be upset. I noticed every time I came downstairs they would stop barking but that didn’t make any sense because everyone sleeps upstairs so it wasn’t as if they weren’t used to sleeping alone.

The third night the pattern continued. As soon as I went upstairs they started barking. I had a feeling they wouldn’t stop until I came back downstairs so I went to them and they were waiting for me in the kitchen. As they stared at me I asked them, “what do you need?” Immediately after they ran into the living room and sat on the couch. Perplexed, I started to investigate because the same thing happened every night like clockwork. It was as if they were waiting for something I wasn’t giving them. I ran through in my mind what usually happens when everyone is here on a weekday. Then I realized they weren’t missing something, it was someone, my uncle. Nearly every weekday after everyone’s dinner, includes the dogs’, my uncle goes into the living room with a glass of wine and watched basketball/football/some kind of sport with Frank and Mies. The ritual totally slipped my mind and I wasn’t seeing behind the list I was given.

I went to the cabinet, grabbed the same glass my uncle would’ve used, some wine and headed into the living room. I sat where my uncle would usually sit, grabbed the blanket, found Harry Potter (not a huge fan of sports, but they didn’t seem to mind) and stayed down there until their bedtime. They curled up next to me and had fallen asleep. No barking. I repeated the ritual every night until my family came home.

This may seem like a simple story, but it has a powerful message. Remember, I have never had a relationship with animals because I haven’t ever had pets of my own. Frank and Mies taught me a couple of things:

  1. The unseen is just as/sometimes more important than what is seen. Nowhere on the list was basketball and couch-time a requirement but they needed that connection and were very happy once I made space for it.
  2. Seeing and honoring the unseen within Beings is key to a meaningful connection. That is what they reflected within me. I understood that they have so many unseen needs because so do I. Not only were they making me aware that their unseen needs were important but to honor that my own unseen needs are sacred. We are all rich with infinite depth and a lot of that isn’t easily perceived by the five senses. Acknowledging and developing a relationship with your inner unknown depths can allow you to appreciate/develop a relationship with the same in every aspect of Spirit that you interact with on Earth.
  3. The three of us appreciate a little structure in our lives.

with unconditional love and space, katie

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