Grandparents for Doggie People

Last evening during the ribaldry of Christmas Day dinner conversation with our hosts we volunteered to look after their French bulldog Max during their proposed outing to Savannah today with their house guests.  You might be inclined to imagine there was a vinous influence at work but there was not. Our purely motivated uptake was instantaneous upon hearing of their intention to sequester Max at home for the day while they galavanted about the countryside.  It was not going to happen!

When we had our own French bulldog Munroe we were grateful for the privilege of being able to leave him with either my parents or my sister for varying periods of time, normally only several hours, sometimes during vacations for as much as a week or two.  Because I took Munro to the office with me every day it was indeed seldom that I was either obliged to or desirous of putting him in the care of another. In fact I was so obsessed with the minutiae of his guardianship that I preferred not to capitulate to anyone else. I was an exceedingly fastidious parent. But if temporary care were required it is well known that the supreme happiness of the French bulldog is the company of humans. Once for example I made the mistake of entrusting him to a kennel.  Apparently he cried the entire time.  And remarkably when the Frenchies cry, they sound disturbingly like a baby!  That was a mistake we never repeated.

So arrangements were concluded last evening to have Max delivered to our charge this morning around ten o’clock.  Overnight I prepared myself for the adventure by acknowledging the upcoming restraint upon my erstwhile freedom, addressing the responsibilities to be assumed and revisiting the customs of protectorship. Any hesitation or second thoughts I may have had evaporated in an instant  upon Max’ arrival. The escapade was underway! Introductions were superfluous. He wasted no time casing the joint. To my surprise he quickly found his way up the hardwood stairs to the second floor from the balcony of which he gloated for a moment upon the group of us staring below before he descended to scope the remainder of the place with equal gusto. Granted as our friends commenced their departure for their day trip Max’ initial response was to go with them, but he understood the pointed finger of his master and dutifully remained inside the threshold of the door as it closed upon his pug nose.

I won’t pretend that we adjusted instantly to the renewed duties of a parent. It had been at least ten years since we had last accommodated a four-legged friend. Not surprisingly we at first attempted to reinstitute the habits which we had formerly cultivated with our own Frenchie, introducing him to the softer and cosier pieces of furniture, gently massaging his legs, going with him as he investigated the further recesses of the house, and naturally speaking baby-talk all the while.  Eventually however we succumbed to the routine pedestrian duties of dog handling and went for a walk.

Our journey was of course halted almost immediately as Max inspected every inch of the property along which we proposed to meander.  Max I discovered is more singularly minded than Monroe and it took some cajoling to get him to adopt a less inquisitive demeanour as we rounded the lagoon.  Like any grandparents looking after “the little one” we naturally stopped to take photos to share with the parents later, a duty I wasted no time fulfilling upon our return.  We repeated this outing routine twice throughout the day.  As instructed by Max’ daddy we filled Max’ water dish only sparingly.  He did, as we were informed we would do, drink whatever was put before him.

Having long ago resigned ourselves to abandon our daily ritual of a bicycle ride we nonetheless submitted in part to our own personal agenda midday.  At least I did.  I went to a local beanery to purchase a take-out burgers and white bean and kale soup. When we subsequently consumed our large meaty burgers at the kitchen table I remarked upon Max’ distinctive breeding that he had no expectation of sharing human food.  Max’ dinner would have to await the return of his master.

The customary soporific effect of the lunch inspired me to put Max on the bed with me as I dozed.  My right leg rested against his body and kept us both warm as he lay prone and slumbered as well.  I am advised that the two of us snored!

It wasn’t long after reviving ourselves from the afternoon nap that I received an email from Max’ master that the wayfarers were making their way back. Naturally I had the sense to share the news with Max to whom I showed the email on my iPhone.  I am quite certain he read it and understood the import because he then stood watch by the front door.  I later reasoned that it was likely my mention of the names of Max’ owners which alerted him to their impending arrival.  How else could he have realistically known?

Oddly when the doorbell rang to announce the return of Max’ owners, Max was decidedly aloof. At that point he was on the large couch in front of the television and it was some minutes before he even deigned to raise his head to investigate the cause of the commotion.  We suspect he was rewarding his previous abandon in kind though he finally relinquished any hard feelings and beat a cheery path to the front door to greet his mommy and daddy.  The wayward party was evidently anxious to regain their home territory as well and they all departed without delay.  Our surrogate duties were thus concluded.  All in all a thoroughly pleasant day with Max!