Hey It’s Jet Here.
Today, Mom will share some thoughts on her nine days K9 sitting Austin.
When I offered to take care of Austin while his family (my employer!) enjoyed a much deserved holiday, I never imagined how much I would learn from the experience. My intention was simply to let Austin know he was loved and cared for in the absence of his day-to-day forever family. As many readers know, I have a penchant (vocab builder) for golden retrievers, and dog sitting brought me back to my teen years where I often looked after my Aunt and Uncle’s once-in-a-lifetime golden girl, Brandy.
The first reaction that surprised me came from fellow humans who expressed surprise that I would visit Austin four times a day. My thought pattern followed the “do what you do for Jet and JJ” mentality. I take them out four times a day, why would I treat Austin differently?
As with humans, K9s have their own personalities. Within a day or so, I learned:
- Austin likes his tush scratched, much like Dixie does!
- He barely drinks water… at least when I looked. Jet and JJ drink as if they are preparing for a trek in the Sahara.
- He felt comfortable to ingest breakfast and dinner only when I sat at the kitchen table.
- You can tell that several members of his human family are left handed. (How you ask? I hold a leash in my right hand and if I’m walking only one dog, usually keep them to the right. Austin, on leash, always exited the house on my left side and naturally stayed on that side. He caught on and quickly adapted most of the time to his right handed temporary caretaker.)
- He absolutely LOVES fetch, chewing and Frisbee; he needed new toys in my opinion. (read here.)
- His family warned me about his inability to get along with other K9s. Of course, I brought JJ on Day 1 and he did reasonably well. I would have liked to bring her each night for an evening constitutional, but, I felt another person would have helped at the beginning and … Rachel was not in the mood.
- His family warned me that he might challenge me during walks. I did not experience this; we did practice non-pulling ideas. I noticed that Austin pulled more walking away from home versus towards home which was contrary to my assumptions.
- His family warned me that Austin might misbehave if he saw another dog while walking. The few times we passed other dogs; I kept him on my right, stayed calm, and continued walking…no big deal.
- You can tell his family uses a gentle leader because when he did get excited outside, he looked like one of those beautiful prancing horses that bob up and down while executing fancy footwork!
- On our evening walks, we passed 2 homes on large, fenced in property, separating 2 dogs on one property and 6 dogs on another. To say they barked like crazy and tracked us on the fence line is a strong understatement. I decided that every time I saw Austin get excited I would get in front of his laser line of vision and ask him to sit. I wish I thought of bringing treats; instead, I praised him and gave him a teensy head massage. He picked up the pattern easily.
- I waffled on whether he liked grooming like JJ and Jet. They relax at the end of the night as I comb them out. I brought my combs and brushes to see if Austin felt more comfortable. He seemed ok with the idea, he didn’t really relax though.
- Belly rubs, well they were another story. I sat on the floor with him on all four daily visits, played with him and ended each visit with a belly rub, a head massage and lovies. After giving him his new rope on Thursday, he used the rope like Linus used his blanket, which made me smile.
I will enjoy having my 3 ½ hours a day back, but, I will miss that waggy guy. I may have to ask my boss if I can schedule a visit from time to time.
Another great, little teary saying goodbye to Austin, day.