Here it is. The final week of dogsitting, and, inevitably, the last post in the Dog Diaries series. I, we, made it a whole month. I would like to say that, whilst I am writing this, I am gazing fondly at The Dog, which sits in well-behaved silence next to me. Sadly, this is not the case. The reality is much harsher. The Dog is stood on the sofa, making a noise which I can liken only to a washing machine. It is not one I have heard in the past month of dog duty. His body seems to be convulsing as he continues to stand on unsteady feet. I can see his stomach contracting in time with the noises, and realise the reverse of peristalsis is occurring. I jump up and, hesitant to come too close, encourage (yell at) The Dog to get off the sofa. The Dog looks at me with wide eyes, but is clearly only hearing white noise. Maintaining his eye contact with me, The Dog lowers its head, opens its jaws as wide as they’ll go and proceeds to retch on to the sofa, depositing an unknown substance on to the cushion. Unimpressed, I tell it. Still only hearing white noise, The Dog bounds towards me, treading in its mess in the process, naively hoping for cuddles.
This past month has told the tragic tale of an unrequited love story. The Dog loves me unconditionally, but fails to see all signs that it is not mutual. As his temporary main carer, I have been responsible for its feeding, watering and walking. As a result, it has attached to me like a limpet. It does not matter how often I remove it from my lap, tell it off for its incessant yapping, or for pooing on the area of floor right next to its training pad (does it do it on purpose?), The Dog continues to follow me around with adoring eyes. I have to admire its persistence, but it is not paying off. Whatever fondness of it I felt initially – there must have been some there, for I agreed to look after it for a month, after all – has faded over the last 4 weeks. I do, however, have to thank The Dog, for providing me with the writing inspiration I needed to start the blog. It now makes up 80% of my blog, God knows what I’ll write about when it’s over and The Dog has been returned to The Owner.
When I arrive back at the flat that afternoon, I find The Dog watching a horror movie alone. It sits on the sofa, ears pricked up, one paw on the remote. Candles flicker in a dark room on the large TV screen, whilst The Dog remains tense, its pink teddy bear close for comfort. I have not seen the movie The Quiet Place, but I am clearly watching a woman attempting to give birth in a bathtub, in silence. I switch the movie off and reprimand The Dog, telling it that it’s far too little to be seeing something so scary.
The following lunchtime, I’m taking The Dog out for its daily walk. In the main hallway, whilst I tug on the lead of the frenzied barking creature, a man is walking towards me with a slightly larger, silent dog. This other dog does not walk; it struts. It holds its head high, and casts a look of disdain at The Dog, which is practically wetting itself trying to sniff this other dog’s bum. The man eyes The Dog warily. “I’m a dog trainer,” he tells me. “In case you need any help.” He clearly thinks I do, and he is not wrong. “Thanks,” I reply. “That would be great, but it’s not my dog.” The man nods. “Floor 3, Apartment 306,” he calls over his shoulder as he heads towards the lift.
“You’re embarrassing us,” I say to The Dog, out loud. “Get it together.” The Dog yaps back at me, its tail going through the windscreen wiper motion. I pick it up, and it stops yapping. I return it to the floor and it continues its noise. In true newborn-soothing style, I pick it back up, well aware that you are supposed to leave a crying baby so that it learns to soothe itself. Unfortunately, The Dog has impressive stamina, and I’m scared of what will happen if I allow my blood pressure to go any higher. I carry it back to the flat, and The Dog sits tucked under my armpit like royalty, a smirk on its lips.
That evening, I let my guard down. The Dog inches closer whilst I’m watching TV, and sprawls in my lap. Absent-mindedly, I start to stroke The Dog. He’s quite cute really, I think, as I gaze down at its sleeping body. Then, somewhere in the building, a door slams, and The Dog jumps up as if its been electrified, and sprints to the door where it resumes its earlier yapping. That’s when I remember, oh yes that’s right, I don’t like The Dog.