The incomparable, Stella.
By Kathy P. Behan
It’s been a while since I’ve taken care of an infant and Reese, my granddaughter, is a bit shy of three-months old. Like all babies her age, her main occupations are eating, sleeping, peeing, pooping and cooing – not necessarily in that order. She, of course, decides what if anything else I can accomplish in a day besides taking care of her. It’s funny to be held captive, and entirely enthralled, by a 12 pound dictator, adorable though she may be.
As I may have mentioned in a previous blog, I’m staying at my son and daughter-in-law’s house for a month, helping out with Reese. At times, this arrangement has been way more complicated than I’d have thought. This is mostly due to Reese’s “siblings” – two cats (one shy, one incredibly rambunctious) and a sweet, beautiful 65-pound mutt named Stella.
Right before I showed up for baby duty, Stella had to have an operation on one of her paws. As a consequence, this active young pup had to be tranquilized for a week so she wouldn’t rip off her bandages and worry her incision. Whenever she needed to “do her business” we had to wrestle her injured paw into a plastic boot (so the stitches wouldn’t get wet) and take her outside on a leash. Then, because the poor thing was drugged, she’d wander around outside, probably trying to figure out why she was there, and maybe, if we were lucky, eventually relieve herself. Inside, if we weren’t attentive enough, she’d shred her bandages, trying to get to her injury and when we really weren’t looking, randomly pee and poop freely about the house. Dog duty almost became as time consuming as baby care.
One of the main reasons I came to baby-sit was to help keep Reese healthy during this horrific flu season. We figured if we kept her in “relative” isolation (pardon the pun), she’d stay well. Sadly, that didn’t go according to plan. Jenny (my daughter-in-law) and I ended up getting colds just days after my arrival. The worst news was we passed our illness along to Reese. Luckily, she recovered much more quickly than we did.
Meanwhile, back on the pet front, Stella soon began feeling like her old hyper-active self. She careened around the house, trying to get us involved in endless games of catch or tug-of-war, and loudly barking at passersby, the mailman and anyone else who had the audacity to show up outside her window. My least favorite of her antics was that she seemed to wait until Reese was right on the verge of sleeping, and then she would casually walk up to the Rumba and stomp on the power button. This would send the LOUD mechanized vacuum into its frantic cleaning mode. Not surprisingly, the commotion of pets scattering out of the machine’s wake and the roar of that bloody device would send Reese from peaceful slumber to wailing wakefulness.
On the whole, even though it’s a bit messy, life is good. It’s easy to overlook the moments of frustration and chaos, when cuddling with a smiling, cooing baby as a sweet pup is sleeping at my feet.
Kathy P. Behan, a mother of three, is a nationally-published freelance writer specializing in family and health issues.