Elle’s (pronounced Ellee) and Grace May’s owners were planning a trip out of the country, and chose “happy at home” housesitting and dogs sitting (shouldn’t it be plural? 🙂 ) instead of a fancy pet resort for their two. And why not? With 10 acres to ramble across in the forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Elle and Gracie May had a pretty idyllic life, at home!
The girls were a lovely twosome to care for. Elle is a cross between a poodle and a black lab, making her a labradoodle, but different looking than any other we had seen! Gracie May’s long, long lashes hinted cockapoo to us, but the owners thought perhaps schnoodle (schnauzer/poodle). Both girls are beautiful and easy-going, but Elle had developed seizures as an adult and was on orally administered phenobarbitol (thankfully we had no incidents during our time with them). Interestingly, although the literature says most dogs with epilepsy will start exhibiting symptoms before the age of 5 or 6, many of the dogs we’ve been introduced to which are taking anti-seizure medication started having symptoms later than that.
As relative newcomers to their rambling habits, we’d sometimes find ourselves a little unnerved about Elle’s and Gracie May’s casual style of recall — the girls would always come, but, pretty much, when they were ready. To soothe our need for reassurance, they trained us up into yelling “cookies,” if we were a little anxious and wanted them to come now instead of on their own time, which, they were happy to do, as “cookies” meant something fun to eat — a win/win! Of course, “cookies” doesn’t have to mean fattening dog treats — some cooked yam cubes, carrots, or other good-for-them non-kibble made them just as happy.
Both girls had very sunny demeanors — Elle is a big girl (about 75 lbs), and enjoys ambling and sunning, even in the hot and humid Carolina sun, and for little Gracie May, happiness is all about the nose. Of course, what’s more powerful a scent than poop? Yep, Gracie May had a little tendency toward coprophagia, not unnatural behavior, just gross to human sensibilities and something to watch out for.
Besides poop getting her into trouble, Gracie May surprised us all on one of our daily walks in the forest when, one day, she was curiously sniffing a decaying log on the forest floor and upset a hive of bees! Poor little girl was so confused and frightened by all the buzzing and swooping, but we finally got her attention and got her to run home. She escaped without any stings that we could see, thank goodness, but picking out lingerers that got caught up in her long, thick, curly fur was a bit of a challenge for us!
Besides the walks, forest rambles, and time in the sun (seriously, what would a pet resort have over that? 🙂 ), one of the girls’ favorite rituals was a night time chomp stick (a smoky, animal hide chew). For those of us looking to watch a show on TV, it wasn’t exactly a movie theater environment, listening to two dogs enthusiastically gnawing and crunching their chews, but it was pretty heart warming to see how happy and content they were!
There’s so much we love about being “professional” pet sitters (there really isn’t a PhD program or anything, but it is our full-time pursuit, and with our experience, we feel we’re very professional), and top of the list is meeting all the wonderful owners of these beautiful little ones. It seems to go hand-in-hand — of course people who want the best care for their pets are kind and caring people by nature! We hope life continues to bring more of everything wonderful to this special family! We left them with a little video of our time together — if you have a couple of minutes, you might enjoy it, too, here’s the link to Elle’s and Gracie May’s video.