Doggo’s “Life Enrichment Plan” has been successful above expectation! (Especially since I didn’t have any expectations/specific goals!)
We’ve taken more walks than usual. I think taking walks with the dogs I petsit gave Doggo a newfound enjoyment in them. Usually when we’d go for a walk, we’d get out there and we’d kind of both be like “Well, you brought me out here – now what do you want to do?” It usually consisted of Doggo fast-walking, sniffing a few things, and then we were back home. My recurring daycare that I walk 1-2x per day walks literally a mile an hour. xD
He’s a beagle and the walk is done to provide his mind & nose the stimulation it lacks. So sometimes we’ll cross back and forth in front of a spot for 20 minutes. Sometimes, on warm days, we’ll walk to a spot, and he’ll plop down and just look at the traffic as it drives by. Which works well for me & Doggo – because I’m not worried about Doggo overextending himself as he just stands there, sniffing the air with the other dog. 🙂
With Doggo’s lunch, we’ve been practicing his commands. And for the “sport” I’ve been free-shaping teaching him “soccer”. I’ve switched it up sometimes playing hide and go seek. Or today, instead of commands, I scattered his lunch and covered it with a blanket for him to burrow under. 🙂
Doggo surprised BT the day after I started this regimen – we were about to go out for a drive and Doggo was silent, though intrigued. He only barked in excitement a few times just as we were about to head out together. It’s been a difficulty sometimes as from the first hint of an outing Doggo has a hard time keeping his excitement contained or focused.
Doggo’s barking less during conversations, as well, and doing better with overly-licking his paws (though he still does it more on days that other dogs aren’t here – even if he doesn’t feel like doing anything else I’ve tried to interest him in).
And what I’m hoping is he’s building confidence, emotional wellness, as well as his brain having more engagement, using more of his energy, and bonus: we’re spending more quality time together. ^_^
Some days I don’t do all of them – if we go out for a drive, I don’t always play a sport with him. Sometimes the commands & the sport merge, or it’s too cold to go out for a walk. But it’s nice to feel more engaged with Doggo’s care and to be proactively thinking of what he might want to do than just being like “well, he’s laying in his bed, I guess he’s fine.” And it’s nice that we don’t have to do them all the same way each time – that flexibility means a lot to me.
However, I also figured out some of the big pieces to my reluctance of having animals with high energy needs in my care! (And honestly I see where it’s coming from, and don’t really see a way around it ::shrug::):
Since moving to this locale, I’ve developed rather strong seasonal allergies. I always forget just how much they affect me till that season rolls around again. My recurring daycare needs an hour outside in the morning (the absolute worst time to be out), an hour outside in the early afternoon, an hour outside mid afternoon, and another half hour outside in the evening. My dog loves him, and he only comes twice a week, but that is about my limit. Without the rest days in between his visits during allergy season, I’d be in bad shape.
But if Daycare Doggo *doesn’t* have that time outside he is incorrigible. 😂 He will chew on anything (except for his toys), start making trouble with my dog, try and start wrestling with me… So it’s out we go!
During those months I am sometimes taking the strongest allergy meds round-the-clock, slurping down black tea, using a saline flush on my eyes, and still having trouble functioning. My eyes itch unbearably, my nose runs, I get sneezing fits. Sometimes I’m blowing my nose so much that it’s impossible to work because I’m literally blowing my nose and *can’t* work at the same time. My head feels out of sync with the rest of the world, and I get fatigued from the fighting my body is unnecessarily doing.
With my doggo, I can let him outside to do his thing, play his favorite games inside, and chillout together when I’m really not feeling well. His requirements don’t require too much of me. But with other dogs, their normal is something that puts me up-to or past my brink of health for 4-5 months out of the year.
My roommates are more reserved when it comes to the “loving animals” department. They’ll treat them civilly, and wish them well, but they don’t like drool, or slobber, or the animal being underfoot, or begging. I’m doing this petsitting at the approval of them, and it feels like any moment it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
They also are used to my Doggo. Doggo has a litany of commands/words he knows, and he also just understands English and tone really well. It’s endearing, but also slightly comical & frustrating, to see my roommates try to use Doggo’s commands on guests and be puzzled when it doesn’t work. Unfortunately in one roomie’s instance it’s also the point at which they just blow up and shut down.
I had my friend here during one of my petsits with a more active, younger dog. That doggo was only here for a night or two and I wasn’t quite sure of the fit, and it ended up with me saying that it probably wouldn’t be a good fit in the future – but not because of her energy or playfulness! (She didn’t grant my doggo’s request for space, even after he asked several times & I tried to persuade her too.) But the stay was a LOT more fun with my friend here. There were multiple little things the dog did that caused me to figuratively glance over my shoulder to see if it was annoying my roommates, that my friend embraced and read her signals and played graciously with her. It was so much fun having another person there to enjoy the animal like I did, or even encourage me to embrace the doggo’s unique personality even more.
You can be regent of *this room*
When it comes to cats and their need to feel in control of their territory, I can grant that – to an extent. You can reign over my room, its windowsill, and its closet! But, er, not the rest of the house.
I live with two other people, I petsit, and I’m adventurous by nature. A territorial, sensitive-to-change creature is probably not going to ever be happy with this set up. Dogs come and go, I might jet off to see a friend or France, and I like to throw the windows open in spring.
I’ve never quite meshed with sensitive people or beings well – I’m clumsy in nature and often require a lot of grace for mistakes. When a cat reacts to the feeling of lack of control by marking (often peeing) in the places they feel no control – that’s really not going to work well because I probably can’t change the issue much without feeling very boxed in, too, because I’m working within parameters, as well. (You’re worried because a cat is outside so you want the windows shut; I want the windows open to save on electric bills and because I’ve been in socially isolated for 6 months. You’re marking the houseplant because you feel insecure after that dog chased you; I want that dog here because it’s my job and Doggo’s best friend. You want stability; I want possibilities.)
My personal history with cats doesn’t have this kind of issue in it, but the cats I’ve had have usually had at least the stability of my parents being their caretakers – if it’s going to be only owned by “random me” and have a basecamp of one room, I’m sorry but I can offer no more. (Though I’m still a backup fosterer for my local shelter, so I can hopefully still help with getting cats homes! :D)