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THE DOGSITTERS CLUB

I love dogs and I couldn't wait to have one of my own. I finally made the plunge in 2015 and never regretted a second. My dog is my baby girl.

One lesson I had to learn as a dog owner is that it really is like having a kid. (I know, I know…there are a couple of repressed and irate parents reading this thinking you can’t compare a dog to a kid…) Your whole life changes: your freedom to stay out late, to travel, where you can live, vet bills, and more. You are all that pup has and that pup depends on you. Some people have a hard time learning that lesson. I encountered one of those people...Becca*.

Becca seemed friendly enough, of course having an adorable black lab puppy, Bert*, who walks himself on his leash didn't hurt her popularity. Who can resist a puppy? Over time, Bert and my dog became fast friends. They would chase each other around and wrestle on the grass. I felt so relieved to finally be in a neighborhood with friendly people AND dogs my girl could play with. Becca and I chatted often and hung out watching great shows like The Home Edit and Gilmore Girls.

False comfort

Initially, there was absolutely zero inconvenience. I loved hosting play dates for the pups. I loved teaching them how to share toys and when to chill the fuck out. Play dates turned into what Becca termed "romantic stays".

The first time Bert stayed overnight was uneventful. The pups were so used to each other and being with me that they both slept on the bed with me and passed out until morning. I didn't mind in the slightest that I was helping Becca out. I had been there, needing someone that I trusted to take care of my dog. It can be a real challenge - to find a good fit and it is stressful when you need help last minute. I was happy to help her (operative word being "was").

The amount of “romantic stays” became more and more frequent. After a week stay in June, she found out that Bert had multiple parasites in a stool sample sent in a month ago. (A month ago?! What kind of vet takes that long? Something about that wasn’t right) Regardless, he and my dog could no longer share water bowls and I had to either throw out or clean all my pup’s toys. Becca didn’t offer to replace what had to be thrown away.

July came around…and I watched Bert for over half of the month. It started to irk me that Becca wasn’t providing poop bags or enough treats for Bert. She was relying on me to supply it all, I guess. Never was an offer extended to pay me for my time taking care of Bert – including days that I came home from work in the middle of the day to take Bert out for a walk.

Once, she asked me to watch Bert because she was late coming home from work and had an additional function that evening. Not only did it turn out she was home that night, but the following morning she did NOT wake up early as promised. Instead, I’m texting her at 0630 saying Hank is ready for pick-up and the response was “I really need to sleep another twenty minutes”. She said to leave Bert in my house after I left for work, and she would get him later. Uhm…poor pup doesn’t get breakfast? Like what is going on here? It is a dog…not some chia plant. I took him out for his morning walk, and she met me at her door in her pajamas to go back to sleep. I was late for work, and I didn’t get any acknowledgement for the extra effort I put in for her dog because she felt like sleeping.

I wondered, not for the first time, if Becca understood what it meant to own a dog. I bet her Tamagotchi lasted less than a day.

The Beginning of the End

Typical Wednesday night. I had just finished dinner when I got a text from Becca, asking if she could drop Bert off while she ran to the grocery store. At this point, I was routinely feeling taken advantage of however, my niceness won out. I thought it would only be for maybe an hour and a half and my pup loves playing with Bert. I agreed.


The pups were playing. I turned on the TV to some Below Deck reruns and poured a nice glass of red wine to start to unwind. Well, that was shot to hell. As soon as I raised the glass to take a sip, Bert jumped on the couch and sprinted across me, body slamming himself into the base of my wine glass. The stem collapsed like an accordion and the glass shattered into my face. I quickly grabbed Bert’s collar, so he didn’t move in case there was glass around and called for my dog to go into her crate.

I was in shock. My mouth felt full, and I couldn’t move it much. Luckily, I had my cell phone next to me, so I quickly called my friend who lives down the street. I could barely talk. I just told her to come over now. I was a mess. Blood was dripping down my cheeks, mouth, and chin onto my shirt. I was covered in glass shards, still straining to hold this puppy still.

My friend led Bert to my pup’s crate and locked them in. She picked off the large pieces of glass and got me wet paper towels for my face. After she vacuumed the floor, I shakily stood up and went upstairs to change out of my wine and blood-soaked clothes. Blood had stained my skin through my shirt and my face was a mess. Glass shards were stuck in my lips and gums and a large piece was sticking out of my chin.

When I was cleaned up and holding ice to my mouth, I realized both my top canine teeth were chipped. I got a text from Becca that she was on the way back from the store. Over an hour goes by and she sends a text asking how things are. I said that the dogs were fine but I was not; that there was an accident. She said she would be right over. (Frame of reference reader…she lives four doors down from me…townhome doors, not sprawling estates). It took Becca 20 minutes to get her dog and see what happened. The best part of it all is that she started avoiding me and said our dogs couldn’t play together anymore. I reassured her that accidents happen, and I wasn’t upset with her or Bert.

Little did I know that I had to reassure her another three times before she started talking to me again. Uhm, I am the one with the broken face! Why am I making her feel better? Why isn’t she asking how I am? I checked on Bert when he was sick to ask if he was getting better and I am supposedly her friend that chipped two teeth, has a nerve damaged chin, and a bruised face that resembled that Phantom skulking in those opera house risers. She can’t check on me? The frustration I felt was almost impossible to contain. Somehow, those feelings abated but not for long.

About a week later, Becca had yet another trip in August. This time she was going to visit one of the guys she was dating before her work trip. The day she was supposed to leave, Bert was coughing and gagging. Poor pup somehow contracted kennel cough of all things.

Becca asked me if I could still take him. I was shocked. On one hand, I felt bad because the pup was sick, but he is always very contagious! I didn’t want my dog to get sick too! Didn’t seem to be a concern for Becca though.

Understandably, she scrambled to find someone to take Bert in and it had to be someone who didn’t have a pet. She ended up having a friend of hers stay in her apartment to watch Bert. Becca failed to tell this friend that Bert couldn’t socialize with other dogs because he was sick. That went over like a ton of bricks with the neighborhood mafia. Becca was losing sympathy and support, fast.

Point of No Return

I had run out of time. I couldn’t find someone to take my pup for the week I would spend out west visiting my brother. I had to stick with Becca who (prior to Glassgate) had agreed to watch her. Everything seemed to be going fine until the end of the week when the dog walker Becca hired noticed my pup was favoring one of her ears. I told Becca to use a Q-tip to clean dirt out.

I woke up Saturday morning at 0230 Mountain Time for my flight home. I had a message from Becca that my pup was up during the night whining and pacing around. Her ear was badly inflamed. She offered to take her to the vet, so I said yes, please do so.


I landed in Dallas to catch my connecting flight. I got a message from Becca that she made a vet appointment for Monday instead.

I landed in DC. I got a message from Becca that she was “exhausted” and dropped my dog off, along with all her stuff, in my house.

WHAT?!

My sick dog. You just decided you were done watching her and left her in my house alone? I was in a blind, panic-filled rage getting into my Uber to get home from the airport.

I hurriedly unlocked my door and noticed the air conditioning wasn’t turned on. No ceiling fan on. Just my dog laying on her bed whining and crying. Her ear was filthy.

After all I had done for Becca and how many times I took care of Bert like he was my own dog, this is what happens? This is how she treats my dog?

I stewed in my anger for days. I was supposed to watch Bert again for three days. It was too last minute to back out. I am not heartless, but this would be the last time I watched him.

I finally decided to say something. I texted Becca saying that I was hurt and disappointed that she would assume I would be ok with her dropping my dog off early especially considering my dog was sick, the a/c wasn’t turned on, and she didn’t know if my flight was on time.

Crickets.

No response.

I had to reach out to see if the plans with Bert were the same. Becca responded that she made alternative plans. That was it. No acknowledgement of my other message or my feelings. I was dismissed.

That, as they say, was that. It was clear to me that I was not in fact her friend. My usefulness had expired.

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