Saturday, June 22, 2024

Summertime, and animal tales

 So this is where we are 


There's a map with a ! right over my house.

Moving along to more weekendish thoughts, I was asked this morning about my long ago pet and plant care service.

I thought you'd enjoy, as a change from the state of the world, a few animal anecdotes. I had a flourishing service, visiting pets and plants in their homes, sometimes both, working seven day weeks, animals don't take days off! 

My older sister, never owned a business in her life, employed in corporatelandia, advised me to refuse to work weekends!  I explained that would be a fast track out of business. When live animals are involved, you attend. 

The court system even allowed me excuse from jury duty on that account. And when people say well, hire a backup, without the faintest idea how, oh well. Anyone with the insurance liability and bonding coverage I carried wouldn't be an occasional backup, they'd be in business themselves. 

Moving on to the animals. There was dear old Wellington, 21 years old, whose older brother had died at 22, in my care for three weeks while the owners were in Europe. They were sure he wouldn't live, left careful instructions about his body, complete with little container in the fridge, yes, that's what you do, and departed.

They were lovely people, very high strung, noisy, perpetual motion study, and the first few days Wellie just slept. I woke him to feed and use his box, then he gratefully went back to sleep. He was recovering from his owners, loved them dearly, and they wore him out.

The second week he was playful, getting on and off the sofa unaided, coming to meet me at the door. By the time the owners returned, he'd completed his rest cure. They called me in great excitement "We came in, expecting  to check the fridge for Wellie, and suddenly he was running to the door. Running!"  He lived another couple of years.

I've often thought owners, including me, are something for their pets to grapple with. We're all a bit high strung, wanting the best, reluctant to accept that sometimes that entails doing nothing.

Then there were the koi I fed, in a house which had a cat who let herself in and out via a garage window. She never bothered the koi pond. The fish were eager to feed and more than once one leapt up and attached himself to my finger! Bitten by a fish.

I've been bitten by a nervous rabbit, a v-shaped dent in my finger, just a pinch, nothing between friends. And there was dear Suzy the ferret, in a household of many pets, with a permutation of who could and couldn't encounter whom. She liked to ride in my sleeve while I did the rounds of amphibians, birds, cats and pet spiders.  She tried to come home with me more than once.

In fact, that was an occupational hazard, pets trying to stow away in my pockets when I left. Or jumping into the fridge, a specialty of tuxedo cats. I learned to check before I left. And to unplug small appliances owners had forgotten, after one tuxedo set the electric can opener going, luckily not getting a paw in its path. I wasn't moving fast enough for his requirements.

Then there were the cats whose owners assured me I'd never see them, too shy, here's a photo, oh wait, he's jumped on your head, how about that? And the cat whose owner said Kitty loved to drink from a  dripping faucet in the kitchen sink but was too old to jump up, would I mind lifting her? Of course not. Except that in the owner's absence she leapt up like a two year old. She'd got them well trained in serfdom.

I drew a lot of portraits on those visits. The pet business enabled me to support myself while making art, some free daylight hours and and endless changes of scene, with no humans talking at me. In fact a couple of petcare clients when they found out about my art life, took an interest,  attending openings, buying pieces, one arranging a corporate solo show for me. Unexpected bonuses.

I never mentioned art when I met clients, largely because a lot of people think artist=flake,  unreliable. They admitted this much later when I was established with them, and they discovered artist=focused, dependable. 

It's wannabes who run about with black berets and intense expressions. Real artists just want to get on with the work, and wear black when they're working with black blockprint ink.

That was an energetic period, twelve years of successful pet care and art. I couldn't do it now, good thing I don't have to.

Happy day everyone, and to all older sibs, this is dedicated to you











31 comments:

  1. I love all your pet care stories, especially Wellington's "rest cure," LOL!

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    1. I'm trying to remember his brother's name, some other war figure, maybe Marlborough.

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  2. Animals really are the masters, really not “pets.” We had a dog who only sat on the couch when we were gone. We would sneak up to the window to check.
    best, mae

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    1. So sneaky. I guess he rationalized that the rule meant not on the sofa when you were home!

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  3. Great stories of the pet care, Boud. I can imagine the ferret hitching a ride around to the other pets in the house. Interesting period in your life!

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    1. No two days alike. At the time it suited me well.

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  4. You must tell more of these stories! I know the cats have us on a string. I stopped trying to convince myself I'm in charge. It's easier on my psyche to just accept my fate. I cater to cats. My dogs are rolling over in their graves.

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    1. Yes, another time I will. It's wise to acknowledge who's in charge. It saves a lot of nervous energy.

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  5. We're in the heat dome, too but it is supposed to break tomorrow. I hope it does for you too. My longtime pet sitter just retired. I have a friend for back-up and think I've found another I can trust but it's always such a tough call, especially now that Lizzie is getting older and a little more mental. Your clients were lucky to have you.

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    1. More days to go here. You do get to depend on a familiar pet care person, and your pet does, too.

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  6. How fascinating! Great post. Fun stuff.

    Our heat wave is over for now, and it is cool-ish and rainy. Weird summer so far.

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    1. More days to go here. I'm looking forward to cooler weather.

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  7. I really do miss having pets but I also realize that it's simply too much at this stage of our lives. RC has developed an allergy to cats so we definitely can't go there. Try to stay cool and hydrated.

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    1. I have no pets now, too much for me to do, also too expensive for medical care.

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  8. I’m not surprised that you are the pet whisperer. What wonderful stories.

    I was an artist professionally (privately, too, which is all I really wanted to be) and then managed artists. I’m always reminded of Stephen Hawking: “The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist.”

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    1. Art seems to attract a lot of posers. I wonder if other fields do, too. I wonder if people swagger about with tablets, trying to look like engineers?

      We need to hear a bit more about your art life, when you're up for it.

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    2. Will share some more stories again. Speaking of engineers, another quote that works for most everyone: “Tools are not talent.”

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  9. It must have been such an interesting period in your life. There must have been some disasters too. Perhaps that's for another post. I like how you found pets changed with your company, rather than just their owners.

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    1. Yes, there were some exciting times, mostly with humans, not the animals.

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  10. Animals are very good at training their owners.
    When hubby is home he has to sit and watch Trixie eat her breakfast or she won’t eat. I don’t have time for that. I just give her, her breakfast and walk away. She eats it no problem lol
    No. Those that are not in business have no idea about it it

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    1. That is so typical. She knows who's the pushover.

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  11. After violent thunderstorms forecast for tomorrow, next week will be seventies and low eighties. I hope it will drift your way finally.

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  12. I encountered an old aquaintence today for whom I'd cat-sat when her dear elderly cat was about to die. He had spinal problems so couldn't walk any more, a beautiful black long haired fellow who just lay on a blanket on the floor waiting for me to come open a can and feed him, and wash his nether regions which were soiled, by holding him in the sink, then dry him in a towel and sit with him on my lap as long as I could, then give him a fresh blanket to lie on. When my friend returned home she said the next week she finally knew it was time to take him to the vet to put him to sleep. She shared today that we had such a bonding over this dear old cat, and she really appreciated my care so much. I found it really a rewarding experience.

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    1. You do develop a relationship with an animal you take such special care of. Good of you to do it.

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  13. Lovely stories, I hope you continue them here. We have been roasting here today and as of 9:45 PM, no AC person yet though I'm confirmed this evening. They are 24/7 I think. I confirmed with a live person about an hour ago, very nice. Tech en route now.

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    1. I hope you get cool for overnight, to sleep by.

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  14. Looking after other people's pets is a big responsibility but interesting - a rich fund of stories.

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    1. True, their houses, too. I'm glad I did it.

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  15. Lovely post. People with pets want desperately to find the right person to tend them when they are gone. Dependable, friendly, dare I say- even loving? I am sure that you were in high demand.

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    1. One of my human clients said she'd told her friends she had a pet care person who was fluent in cat!

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