Our house sitting is now over for this season. Altogether we had 10 house sits including a 4month one for a repeat client in Ottawa.
Our 10th and last house, also a repeat, was in St. Catharines Ontario – only this time, the owners’ lost one of their beautiful dogs, Stanley, and added a new addition, Tucker who was only 11 weeks at the time and a companion to Sophie, when we arrived.
St. Catharines, Ontario
St. Catharines is the largest city in Canada’s Niagara Region and the sixth-largest urban area in Ontario. It boasts 96.13 square km of land and is situated 51 km south of Toronto across Lake Ontario, and 19 km inland from the International boundary with the U.S. along the Niagara River.
It also has a nickname – The Garden City – because it has 4 km of parks, gardens and trails.
In 2016, the population was 133,113.
The area we stayed in was called Port Dalhousie (pronounced duh-LOO-zee) and has a lighthouse and pier and a very popular beach located at Lakeside Park.
When we house sat here last time it was during the Niagara Wine Festival and we took in the Montebello Park Wine & Culinary Experience and Centre Stage, bought a passport to a wine tasting tour (8 wineries), and checked out the Lakeside Park Carousel which has been beautifully restored and has 68 animals in all (including horses, lions, goats, camels and giraffes) and it cost only 5 cents a ride!
This time, though, we were a little ‘busy’ and decided to focus on our sit.
Meet the Family
It was wonderful to see Tom and Liza again. They are a fun couple, easy-going and great conversationalists. They make us feel so welcome and treat us like friends and once again Tom cooked us a great meal for our first evening there, sharing wine and conversation with us.
We were well provisioned for, had an amazingly comfortable bed, and use of their awesome hot tub.
Sophie is a beautiful 7-year old golden retriever who is very gentle and loves attention. When she sits by my husband, she lifts her paw upon his thigh and waits patiently for him to pat her. She is very sedate on her walks and LOVES her treats!
Tucker, also a golden retriever, is a new addition to the family. At 11 weeks old, as you can imagine, he has loads of energy.
He is a gorgeous shade of golden brown while Sophie is much whiter in colouring. Sophie is like a patient aunt to him, allowing him to romp all over her, take her toys and sometimes not giving her any peace at all.
I am sure she loves every moment of it though since Stanley, her companion for a long time, passed on.
Because of Liza’s patience and training, Tucker could already sit, stay and come when told. Walking him was a bit of a challenge as he is so interested in everything – including the big leaves blowing off the trees. Everything is new and strange to him! To make it easier for both dogs, we walked them separately. Tucker is very smart and will do well in puppy school which is scheduled for when Tom and Liza return from their trip.
Sophie and Tucker manage to get into a few escapades such as getting very muddy on a couple of occasions.
To share a little fun with our readers, we have added a conversation that we think Sophie and Tucker would have if they could talk to us humans and to each other.
Something is going on, as the ‘fill-in’ humans that have been staying with us for the past two weeks are busy on their computers and phones, sorting things, doing laundry, packing up their big suitcases because my regular human beings will be home from their trip soon.
This is the second time these ‘fill-in’ humans have substituted for my humans who went on vacation but what makes this time different is that a little while before my humans left they introduced me to a new housemate, an 11-week-old golden retriever named Tucker. The ‘fill-in’ humans refer to him as ‘the new guy’ or ‘Mr.T’ as he’s taking over for my previous housemate Stanley, who departed after a long, productive life.
The ‘fill in’ humans affectionately and rightly refer to me as “Aunt Sophie” to Tucker, but goodness I’m so tired in the evening after spending a good portion of my day playing/guiding him on daily life, teaching him the canine skills that he needs to learn and apply to get his way with humans, that I hardly have time to myself anymore or to nap during the daylight hours.
Everyone knows that puppy school is really for our humans on how to communicate with us dogs, however, when a dog manages humans properly life is a lot easier for everyone. I’m good on the leash; it’s the humans that’ll need to learn how to try and manage Tucker. Here is what I’ve been working on with Tucker to ensure he’s up to speed.
Walk slowly all the time you’re in the house, so when you do get in trouble, you’re less likely to run away and you come off as looking less guilty.
Always turn your head or look away to the side when being scolded or reprimanded for something you apparently did.
Never roll your eyes up when being scolded by humans, as it can be misinterpreted as a sign of not caring, and it does show that you’re hearing them.
When playing fetch in the backyard with your humans, get them to throw the ball at no higher than eye level. You accomplish this by merely sitting up, bending your head backwards for their first few attempts; if the humans can’t grasp the mechanics, just lie down and chew on a stick.
When the humans feed you, no matter how hungry you are, never run to your food bowl…take your time and give them a look back before starting your meal…just to make sure they know they did their job.
When the humans are sitting on the couch watching TV you must put your head in their lap and just stare at them – stare at them for at least 15 seconds.
If #6 is unsuccessful, then place a paw on their leg quad muscle and gently pat it; if they don’t understand there’s something they need to do, such as feed you a forgotten treat, or a missed tummy rub appointment, then just back away, stare at them and pretend to sneeze.
After you’ve been outside for a while, upon entering don’t make eye contact with the humans, grumble a little, and go lie down, and of course in the kitchen when dinner is being prepared.
After you’re too big for your crate, establish a sleeping spot on the humans’ bedroom floor, but it must not be near the spot where I sleep – you cannot sleep there or too near to me….that is my spot; if you sleep too close to my spot, you‘ll be sorry.
Remember that our humans have not had a puppy in their house since me, so it’s a ‘re-learning’ process for them too, even though you don’t know it.
When something goes crash and we’re both nearby ….just look up, and since the humans are in their ‘questioning the suspects’ mode,’ just turn your head and look at the other dog.
When you dig holes in the backyard remember to lick your paws clean so the humans have less to towel off when you enter the house, otherwise, they’ll give you a bath.
TUCKER AKA ‘MR. T.’
When I want to go outside for any of the three P’s – Play, Poop or Pee – I sit by the back door and bark…wait 15 seconds, then bark again – whining doesn’t do anything – just bark, bark, bark…the noise will be a constant reminder and my humans will be trained well once they respond on the first or second bark…but no more than two barks.
When I’m really bored I’ll pretend to go poop or pee in my bed, and then they’ll pick me up PRONTO and carry me outside!
Snow is cold…..but fun!
The ‘fill-in’ humans let me stay outside during the day when it was sunny and cooler so I could grow a heavier coat; that way I’ll be warmer in the wintertime, as real dogs don’t wear doggy coats!
When out for walks during the wintertime I always go poop in the snow so it’s easier for humans to see where I did my business; it hardens faster so it’s easier for humans to pick it up.
When out for walks I always go poop two or three times, so the humans remember to bring more than one doggy poop bag, otherwise, they have to use their bare hands… (that’s so much fun to watch!)
I always dig holes in the backyard, especially when it’s been raining as the humans will towel me off at the door, then they’ll carry me into the bathtub, and rinse me with water…that way I get to run around and splash in the tub, drink the water from the faucet and go pee in the tub….no harm is done as the bathwater goes away!
I give the humans lots of kisses and hugs, as they need to be reassured they’re doing the right things!
Now back to the ‘fill-in’ humans. We’re sad that they’re leaving as we were oh so, so close to getting them into our routines, and to react accordingly to our strategically used communication skills such as facial expressions, whines, patters, dances, and barking to get them up to speed.
Oh well……..next time!
I hope you enjoyed this article. We are now in Mexico for six months and will get back into house sitting when we return in May 2020.
Do you ever wonder what your pets are thinking, especially if they look at you a certain way? Let us know your experiences in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.