I broke your dog…

A little over a year after Josie joined my family, a co-worker asked if I could dog-sit. (Different co-worker then Billy’s owners.) I eagerly agreed – I feel it is so much better for a dog to be in a home instead of a kennel for any extended period of time.

So Gretchen joined Josie and me for a brief time. She was a 10 year old, 100 pound Rottweiler – all full of awesome. Her owner brought her crate with her and we set it up in the cool basement. It was summer time – and since back then I was broke cheap, the basement was much cooler than the rest of the house.

Everything with Gretchen went great – until one morning I went to go let her out of her crate and she limped a little and then couldn’t make it up my basement steps. I had to help her – quite the workout being she was a 100 pounds.

I had a sinking feeling – what did I do? She was fine when they dropped her off – and now – now she can barely walk and can’t make it up steps?!?!

I thought long and hard and ended up calling her owners on vacation to let them know that somehow, I had injured poor Gretchen. After a short conversation, I let them know I felt completely responsible and would get her checked out by her vet as soon as possible. When on vacation – you shouldn’t have to worry about your dog!

I went ahead and called her vet and set up an appointment. Seemed like a great plan – until I had to figure out how to get a 100 pound dog that was having leg problems into the cab of my pickup truck. It took some muscle, and I’m sure she did not appreciate it.


Josie and Gretchen, taking it easy.

The trip to the vet is what introduced me to the old veterinary practice I used to take my dogs to – aka the old country doc that I no longer recommend going to. But back then, they were great. They checked Gretchen out and determined in her old age her knees were probably starting to go. Given I couldn’t authorize any major procedures, we left with some pain meds and instructions to take it easy. Total cost for exam plus meds – $45. (Truthfully, it was that dirt cheap price that led me to taking my dogs there for many years.)

Gretchen came home with me and we took it easy the next couple days until her family came home. They picked her up and made sure to have a follow up appointment with the vet. No hard feelings – although I felt like crap. I checked back every now and then to see how she was doing. I’ll never forget what her owner said to me: “I finally have the dog I always wanted. She can be out front with us and I don’t have to worry about her running off. She’s just there, wanting to be with us.” (that’s roughly paraphrased – after 12 years I don’t remember the exact words – but I do remember the gist.) I think of this often as I let Josie and Bear out front with me and often don’t pay attention as other dogs/people walk by. They won’t go anywhere – they don’t have the strength or energy. They just want to be there – to see the action and be with their family. I’m sure some people look up and see them and silently judge – how dare I let me dogs be off leash – they could attack.

But I want a sign that says “Beware – senior citizens wanting to enjoy and embrace life – give them a hug.”

I’ll always remember Gretchen – the dog I broke while dog-sitting. I still feel horrible about it. But in a way, she prepared me for dealing with senior dogs – they take extra care and love. And its all worth it.

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