Adventures In Dog Sitting
LORI OSIECKI ILLUSTRATION
What I’m thankful for: The levees didn’t break. I don’t have to paint my toenails again until hot weather. Same thing with shaving my legs. There is still a month to buy Christmas presents. My mother-in-law says she’ll cook Thanksgiving dinner, and I just have to bring the pie. Rouses’ pies ain’t bad.
But especially: I don’t have Skeets this year.
But don’t get no ideas. Skeets ain’t no stomach problem or sexual transmission disease or nothing like that. I am talking about a dog. This dog belongs to the mother-in-law of my sister-in-law, Gloriosa. I am also talking about my son Gargoyle’s ex-girlfriend – I’ll explain about her in a minute.
Even though the dog has an official name, Lady Skeeter MacReeter, being as she’s a registered pedigreed, she don’t know how important she is. She is a nice little thing who follows you around and smiles with her tongue lolling out like dogs do.
Gloriosa’s mother and father-in-law are taking a 10-day cruise to somewhere, and they entrust little Skeets to Gloriosa. There ain’t no love lost between Gloriosa and her mother-in-law, so Gloriosa thinks this is her chance to smooth things over. And then her husband surprises her with a five-day Thanksgiving trip to Sweden. (Gloriosa and her husband are the rich branch of the family.)
The five days are in the middle of the in-laws’ 10-day trip, so Gloriosa asks my high-school daughter, Gladiola, to come over and dog-sit for $20 a day and unlimited use of her TV, which is the size of a billboard.
Gladiola is delighted. Until the second day. Then she calls me, hysterical. Skeets had a digestive upset and did her business all over the Oriental rug in the living room. I go over and we clean it up and powder it down with baking soda – and call the vet. The vet says evidently her dog food isn’t agreeing with her, so Gladiola should cook chicken and rice for her until her owners gets back.
The next night, to protect the rug, Gladiola coops her up in the kitchen. But Skeets gets lonesome. And she cries. And whines. And howls. So Gladiola calls me. And she cries. And whines. And howls.
Finally me and my gentleman friend, Lust, offer to bring an air mattress over there so Gladiola can sleep in the kitchen with the dog.
While they’re waiting for us, Gladiola and Skeets curl up and watch The Exorcist on the big TV. Bad idea. By the time we get there Gladiola is too terrified to let us leave. She and me wind up sleeping together upstairs and Lust sleeps on the air mattress in the kitchen with the dog. Lust sleeps fine, but Skeets don’t. She has another digestive upset and the next morning we got to clean up the kitchen floor. I ask Gladiola how she cooked Skeets’ chicken and rice, and she tells me she bought it at Popeyes. Extra spicy.
I decide Skeets needs to come home with me. I can cook bland chicken and rice; I got no Oriental rugs, and Lust says he ain’t about to sleep on nobody’s kitchen floor again.
It works. Skeets is cured – although Lust is still kind of grouchy.
Problem is, this dog gets very upset if she’s alone, and the next day is Thanksgiving. We got dinner at my mother-in-law, Ms. Larda’s. I call and ask if I can bring Skeets along and Ms. Larda says sure.
Before we go, I make sure to give Skeets her chicken and rice and take her to relieve herself. But I’m still nervous that somebody will feed her something else and we’ll have a disaster on Ms. Larda’s rug.
Which isn’t Oriental, but still.
So I’m a little distracted when my son Gargoyle arrives from LSU and introduces his new girlfriend. She was the Crab Queen of her hometown on the bayou, he says, and that strikes me funny and I try not to snicker. I guess I don’t pay attention to what else he says.
I should have, because her name is Skeets.
Now who would name a girl Skeets? Bad enough for a dog. And just like the dog, she got an official name, Sara Kit Estes. But she goes by Skeets.
Which, like I said, I don’t hear. Ms. Larda is already announcing it’s time to eat.
Now, when the entire Gunch family eats together we don’t have enough table room, so we spill over into the living room and wherever we can find chairs and eat out of our laps. After everybody has their plate and we say the grace, I stand up and announce, “Don’t nobody give nothing extra to Skeets. She got a stomach problem.”
Skeets, the girl – who don’t have a stomach problem, even if she’s on the roundish side – is sitting right behind me. I guess her eyes bug out a little, but I don’t see this. After a while I notice Skeets, the dog, going from person to person with big sad eyes, and I say real loud, “Skeets! No more for you. You ate enough!” Unfortunately Skeets, the girl, happens to be getting seconds at the time.
She and Gargoyle left out the back door right after I yelled at the dog that I was going to put her out in the yard if she kept bothering people.
Evidently that ended Gargoyle’s romance with Skeets, the girl. He said later – after a lot of explaining from both sides – that it was probably for the best, so I guess his heart ain’t broken.
Now I got to mention two more things I’m thankful for: Gloriosa and them will be home this year, so they’ll have Thanksgiving dinner with us.
And nobody named Skeets will be there.