Friday, July 27, 2012

master of the beasts

Dear Harriet Walter,

    Well! Apparently it has been a while, she says as she sits on top of the back of a couch, kicking away at a dog's stuffed toy because the dog wants her to play fetch but she wants to write. (Dog toy is too gross to touch with my hands without washing said hands before returning them to the laptop.)

    Today is my fourth day of housesitting. The murder mastiff isn't here, as the people I'm working for actually found a really cool boarding place that specializes in working with large, aggressive dogs who have behavioral problems and since his owners were having several kinds of trouble with him anyway, they decided that that was a happier option and might do some long-term good.

    However, I still have to take care of one largeish, energetic, nervous, and easily bored young dog named Rigby, who is some kind of short-haired, lean, coyote-like thing. She needs lots of attention.

    And I also have to take care of five cats (two downstairs and three inside or adjacent to the barnish thing, one of whom is a Persian and needs his fur brushed and his eyes cleaned often), four chickens, and the young potbellied pig.

    The pig is, of course, the pig that I previously saw in a pet shop and wanted so badly to own. This is the family and home that he went to. (You might wonder how I can be sure. The pet shop does not often have pigs, the family bought him around the time I know he was there, I recognized him when I first saw him, and I have pictures on my phone from when I saw him for sale to compare to the pig I take care of.) Yep. I get to live with and take care of the pig I yearned for, for three weeks. His name is Papa. He takes blueberries from my fingers quite delicately.

    Housesitting is a very strange job. It requires very little of what we think of as work, instead calling for one to step into a person's or a family's shoes, inhabiting a broken-off piece of their life while they're gone. Taking care of their pets, sleeping in one of their beds, raiding their pantry, washing with their soap and so on, but with none of the family interaction of their lives, very little of the driving away to go places and buy things and work, no knowledge or history of their habits and hobbies in the lives they lead at home. I feel like another person's ghost, in a functional way.

    Sometimes I feel like I'm being paid to haul the pig's large rubber water bowl to and from the house to dump, rinse, and refill it, and clean out the cat litter, and groom the cat, and feed creatures several times a day, and take the dog out to potty, and walk the dog down the gravel roads, and be lonely and isolated from other humans all day (as I'm way out in the country)...and sometimes I feel like I'm being paid to sit on my butt and watch Batman TV shows.

    Speaking of whom, life lesson learned today:

    when tasked with brushing a floofy white cat, first make sure that you are not wearing a black Batman t-shirt.

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