In memory of Arlo......
It happened by chance!
A friend called to say her daughter was stuck without pet care in high season, when the person they had arranged to dog sit, had a change of plans at the last minute.
My first question was "where is your daughter's place?"
Discovering that her daughter was in Melbourne, thus her dog was too far away for me or my Ballarat team to make daily or twice daiy visits, I thought on my feet.
" Get Lily to bring Arlo here to visit Whippet Boy and see how they get on. If Whippet Boy approves, Arlo is welcome to come and stay here and share our lives".
Arlo's introductory visit was a roaring success. He and Whippet Boy soon became best mates, sharing the couch and me and rollicking around the backyard playing 'bone chasey'.
In the evenings the three of us would be curled up in front of the TV together. We shared walks and off leash dog park visits and left over Christmas turkey!
At meal times I would separate the boys and keep Whippet Boy to his usual food and daily routines, which Arlo had to fit around. Apart from that the dogs were treated as complete equals and it was clear, Whippet Boy, was enjoying a little extra canine companionship and proving the perfect canine host himself. He and Arlo actually fretted for each other when Arlo returned home. However, Arlo was to make a number of return home stays, as well as dropping over for canine playtime, when Lily came to Ballarat to visit her mum. Arlo was again booked in for an extended stay, when Lily phoned with tragic news; Arlo had been hit by a car and killed almost instantly.
Whippet Boy and I spent a whole weekend grieving our lost mate incredibly deeply. Whippet Boy with his head hanging low at the mention of Arlo's name and me, with swollen tear stained eyes. I cried for Lily too, losing her much loved Pointer at under two years of age. The difficult teen stage was behind him and years of love and canine companionship were supposed to lie ahead. Whippet Boy always got excited at the mere mention of Arlo's name and from my tears seemed to understand he had lost his best mate. But the wonderful Arlo opened the door to hosting other guest dogs.
Since then, other guest dogs and their owners, have touched our lives and left their mark on our hearts.
In residence with us at present is a lovely Border Terrier cross. Terrier Man, is a true gentleman with exemplary manners and social skills, with both other dogs and humans. He immediately understood that Moggie Girl, our cat, was part of the family here and treats her with the utmost respect. Terrier Man had already endeared himself to me on pet sit visits previously, at his place, but this time his dad was away for an extended period and hated the idea of him waiting at home for his return, with limited human interaction and stimulation. He realised that Terrier Man would gain many benefits from staying with Whippet Boy and myself.
Compared to the human boarders I have taken in over the years, my guest dogs are proving far more ameniable and considerate lodgers. None has ever arrived home late with dodgy friends, or left me worried as to whether they would make it home via the last train. Given they must be desexed, I am not concerned about unwanted pregnancies conceived whilst in residence and so far none has had a romantic companion sharing their bed!
They have not left me minus teaspoons, taken to work to consume yoghurt and forgotten, nor have they burnt out my saucepans, or stashed dirty crockery under their beds, encouraging mice and mould and leaving me wondering where all the glasses and plates were!
I do impose certain strict rules:
* Guest dogs must be desexed and immunised, with a letter of authority for me to take the dog to the vets if needed.
* A preliminary visit for Whippet Boy's approval, as he, being the resident dog, should not be subjected to aggression or bullying in his own home.
*Guest dogs must be house trained and demonstrate they are under voice control by me. Unruly, uneducated, or aggressive dogs are not welcome.
* Due to Council Dog Regulations and Whippet Boy's right to enjoy his own home, only one guest dog is able to be booked to stay at a time.
As I write this, the gentle head of our Border Terrier companion is on my knee. He and Whippet Boy and Moggie Girl are all sleeping soundly on the couch. Doggie love is all around Moggie Girl and I. Already I am thinking of the day his owners return and how much we will miss his gentle presence, affection and sheer character in our lives. Perhaps, as with dear Arlo, we will arrange canine play dates for our boys to catch up.
One thing for sure about hosting guest dogs at home, it confirms just how individual every dog is, how adaptable they are and just how much they relish canine comforts, company, stimulation beyond the home environment and a full belly.
Terrier Man's dad emailed today saying "sounds like Terrier Man is having a blast!"
With wallowing in the mud on his first visit to the dog park, a singular highlight, I am pretty sure Terrier Man is enjoying as nice a break as his dad at the moment.
Having the help of my wonderful Whippet Boy as "the perfect co host", just adds to the guest dog's enjoyment and gives a dimension to their stay, I just could not offer on my own. He is with them 24/7. He models love and respect for his feline sister. He gets grumpy if they over step the mark with too much robust behaviour interrupting his sacred sleep time, but is a willing afternoon playmate and sometimes co conspiritor in digging a hole in the lawn, or other minor garden renovations.
Luckily, our sun room is a very dog friendly space, where we are not too precious about furniture or muddy paws. The door to the remainder of the house beyond, is, even for Whippet Boy, pretty much a no go dog zone. The dogs spend their nights indoors, with central heating. There is 24/7 access to an enormous dog safe, securely fenced, back garden.
If I get a bit lax about "walkies" or a dog park visit, towards the end of the day, Whippet Boy is quick to remind me, it is "our special time" to encounter the world beyond and presents me with his leash and coat. He is very adept at pushing my belongings off the coffee table to get my attention. Then comes "the look of contempt", reminding me "animals must always come first"!
The only acceptable excuses, in Whippet Boy's terms, are: torrential rain, a thunderstorm, or fire works!
Yes, Whippet Boy is the perfect co host!
When we go away our pets really do miss us. Another dog fills the gap for many a canine, far better than a person ever could. So far, no dog staying here has ever skipped a meal through loss of appetite, nor waited lislessly by the door for its owner to return. They expect pats, smooches and cuddles from me. Perhaps a game of ball, certainly a walk and time off leash with their friends. Maybe it really is a change of scene for them, but still within a loving home environment.
I can only thank darling Arlo for opening up the joys of hosting canine guests within our home; the experience continues to enrich, myself, Whippet Boy and even little Moggie Girl, as much as it does the dogs who briefly touch our lives during their stays!