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April 08, 2006 - 2:46 P.M.

animal magnetism

... or close encounters of the K-9

Can't say if it's a scent I throw, aural rays I emit, or if the situations I find myself in are simply threads woven into the tapestry that is my destiny. Perhaps I just have the kind of eyes that can't and won't turn away from an innocent creature in need. I find myself in the role of rescuer, care taker and adviser a good bit.

My furious search for work continues & while I have more time than money I've agreed to carry on as Miss Calico, Professional Pet Sitter for a select few. After two years of 16 hours, 7 days a week I was a woman on the verge for sure. But I fell hard for some of my clients and, surprisingly, grew fond of a few of the two-legged ones.

So until that elusive golden opportunity presents itself I make myself available on the promise that no one be told...word gets out that I'm back sifting litter and tugging leashes & I'm sunk.

Before the two of you who actually read this begin to scoff let me tell you that until I did it I would have thought pet sitting the easiest-piece-of-cake-no-brainer-J-O-B on the planet. But like the old saying goes: until youve walked a mile in another persons doodie-covered shoes...or something like that. Of course ill or injured animals had to be cared for regardless of how jammed up my schedule but factor in an entire volume from Murphy's law journals. Im talking flood, faulty alarm systems, delivery persons letting pets loose, lock-outs, ice storms, 150 gallon salt water aquariums exploding, trees falling, dogs raiding pantries & polishing off bags of brown rice - raw! The sulphuric splatter art that ensued when that rice made its speedy way through the dog's digestive system had to be dealt with too of course. I could go on and on...and on but you both get the picture.

Caring for Bailey The Dog this weekend - her human works her ass off as regional manager for a gourmet chain & I like her, so I'm happy to help her out and she pays cash. ( cool gifties too like margarita mixes, chocolates and candles that smell like chocolate or tequila! ) Now that I'm not frantically fretting over those 17 other stops that must be made before midnight it's actually rather nice to visit and walk with my Bailey.

So I arrive for BTD's evening walkie, park my car and up tip-toes this lovely little beagle trailing a bright pink leash. This is a congested, in-town neighborhood; lots of traffic, plenty of people and more than a handful of crack heads so a dog on the loose is big-bad-no-no. Thankfully I did not have to chase or cajole; she came right to me and put her paws up in my car as if to say "lets get going." I took her leash and began looking around buildings and down alleys and thought if worse came to worst I would simply take her along on my walk with B-girl and hopefully her human would spot us.

I keep my trunk stockpiled for the inevitable: leashes, fresh water, kibble, milk bones, organic catnip, etc. so I made certain she wasn't parched or famished. Just then I heard angry shouts coming from the one direction I had not taken. ( and wasn't going to take if ass-kicking was in progress ) I hung back and a moment later I heard someone calling out in that where-oh-where tone - Little Girl's entire body began to wag so I felt an exhilarating blend of relief and anger. Glad someone was searching, pissed someone had let her roam.

A very sweaty, slack-jawed individual was making his awkward way up the cobbled alley, given the locale I wasn't too hasty with my warm, welcoming smile - I mean this could be muggER or muggEE, rapER or rapEE. He gets a bit closer, I see tears streaming down his face and smell high-octane fumes from the Wild Turkey seeping out his pores. I concluded that he was a harmless albeit Drunken-Doggie-Daddy as he bypasses the beagle and throws his moist arms around me! Turns out he was shouting at a drug dealer doin' some bidness a little too close to this guy's home so Little Girl had shied away from the turmoil.

After my friendly but careful delivery of back pats and "there-theres" he finally sinks to the ground and embraces Ethyl. Clearly true love so I held off on the speech but suggested we were very lucky she came to me and not some sadistic food-tube who would do her harm. I gave him literature from the No More Homeless Pets clinic and rescue along with spay/neuter pamphlets from Best Friends Society. I covered Ethyl's ears as I revealed one particular detail regarding the extra diligence beagles require: they are a favorite of public military and privately funded laboratories because they supposedly have a higher threshold of pain. (not one beagle has ever conveyed that to me and I am fluent in canine and feline)

Because labs will pay cash for live animals used in experiments ranging from gunshot wounds to toilet bowl cleanser we've spawned a dandy element of society who will gladly snatch a stray for profit. I personally do not believe in the use of any animal for any experimentation but to take a creature who has known the warmth and love of humans as a companion and subject them to the horrors of a vivisector's whims is pure evil. These facts birth a fresh bout of tears from my saturated friend and he hugs poor Ethyl even tighter but I reassure him that all is well because she is safe and they are together again.

He gets to his feet,weaving slightly, gives me another humid hug, expresses his gratitude and shuffles off with Ethyl trotting happily by his side.

We domesticated dogs and cats for our amusement, for companionship, so that we could have something to love, to hunt with, herd or free our barn of vermin. But we must realize the tremendous responsibility that comes with the manipulation of nature. And we must act on that realization...choosing to bring an animal into our home and heart is a serious commitment. We must be diligent in the daily monitoring of their health, happiness and safety. I personally find the rewards far outweigh any sacrifice on my part but I'd rather someone think long and hard even if they conclude not to adopt a pet. Because I see the faces of the ones someone promised to care for and didn't, tossing them out like trash thinking someone like me would clean up their mess or not using that big brain we're so proud of at all.

this-a-way - that-a-way


prevention is kinder than destruction. each year over six million healthy dogs, cats, puppies and kittens are killed as surplus. remember: neuter, spay and don't let them stray!