Hi, I’m Chris. I work with Sadie’s person. She asked me to write a piece for Sadie’s blog.
I am the oldest of four children. Growing up the only pets we had were goldfish.
Fast forward a couple decades and I’m the aunt to two nephews and two nieces – flesh ones – and aunt to five fur nephews and three fur nieces – yes, that’s eight. I’m the only kid with no pets.
For the past week I’ve been looking after my flesh nephews and two fur nephews – Oscar (an almost two year old Bichon Poodle) and Yogi (an eight month old Yorkie Bichon). I call them “OY” for short, as in “Oy yoy yoy,” as my Ukrainian Babka used to say when her grandkids were a bit rambunctious.
I’ve been babysitting humans since I was nine. I worked in a daycare for three summers during university. My flesh nephews are a blast and we’ve always had a great time together, this week was no different so how hard would it be to add two fur nephews to the mix?
Here is what I learned over nine days of togetherness:
1. Always look before you step.
2. Even if you’re outside in the blustery cold countryside, always remember: an empty stomach is a happy stomach. Poop still steams and possesses its unmistakable aroma in the wild blue yonder. And if you throw up, your dog will dive in for the warm snack.
3. A new non-basketball term: “dribbler” as in me asking my flesh nephew if Yogi threw up and being told, “No, that’s poop, he’s a dribbler.”
4. “Fixed” dogs still like humping legs and arms – especially those of my youngest flesh nephew.
5. If a dog is sleeping with someone, make sure you keep the bedroom door open or you’ll be greeted with “Morning Auntie Chris, watch your step, you didn’t open the door wide enough last night.”
6. Jujubes are a fun, sweet snack and a large, community bowl of them is a treat. But pay attention to the designs on the pink, gummy hearts – they might not be imprints of cupid and flowers, but rather a distinct set of teeth prints courtesy of a dog with a sweet tooth.
7. All roads do lead to figure skating. And in this case, my bond with Yogi. We watched the world figure skating championships together. He was captivated by the athletes and especially liked those who performed to Tango music. This led to a new phrase “Yogi, figure skating, go,” whenever I needed Yogi to leave a room or get down from somewhere he shouldn’t be.
8. I might have made it as a figure skater. Picture it: two active dogs who love to play fight and chase each other, slippery roads and inexperienced dog walker me. I was completing triple axels as the dogs chased each other, crossing their leashes around and around my legs, causing me to leave the ground, complete the required rotation and land gracefully and with flair. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
9. Dogs have seven food groups: meat, vegetable, water, stuff on cutlery in the dishwasher, mittens, Wii cords and wooden ducks.
10. Don’t get cocky with your dog-sitting abilities. Even after nine days of bonding, lovely jaunts in the countryside, belly rubs and sweet gestures… see #1 again.
Chris Vajcner is a proud auntie and petless figure-skating fan living in Winnipeg, Canada