Dog Sitting Stretch


Neighbor’s dog awaits

One whose salty face he may lick

Pouncing is his game.

I expect that this is the first haiku you’ve read today. Or at least the first haiku you’ve read today about the dog living next door to me.

Stretch the Dog is a loyal subject of the awesome family next door. And as most dogs do, Stretch embodies so many of those lovable qualities that set me happily in the “dog person” camp. For instance, his joy is uncontrollable whenever someone enters the house. He runs and jumps and licks and barks to express that you walking in the door is better than winning the lottery. Any chance to be near people is a chance he’ll take, even if those people are little kids who intend to poke, prod, and ride him. And rather preciously, he loses his appetite when his beloved family is out of town.

I would know, since I have the privilege of dog sitting for Stretch when his family heads away for the weekend. Here’s how that plays out, each and every time:

My kids and I walk across our lawn to the house of Stretch, unlocking the door to the tune of Stretch barking at us. He’s protecting his house from invaders, I assume. Though as soon as we step in the door, he trades the barks for kisses, gently jumping up on my kids to lick forgotten breakfast off their faces. Then he runs in circles around the room because he’s just so grateful to see some human beings again after the lonely week that has passed in 24 hours (dogs live seven times faster than us, after all). The kids wrestle him to the floor to pet and scratch him, giving him just the sort of attention he wants. Meanwhile, I go into the dining room to refill the food and water dishes, only to find that Stretch hasn’t touched them since his family left.

Perhaps out of sympathy, I stay longer than I plan and let the kids bound around the backyard with Stretch. This elongated little pooch is fully alive when he has kids to chase around. It quickly becomes clear that the poor guy needs company just as much as he needs shelter or food.

So when we’ve played with Stretch and added a few morsels to his food dish for good measure, we begin to head back to our own home. And I think that Stretch senses that he’s going to be alone again. He climbs high upon his perch (couch) while we prepare to walk out the front door. It is as though he wants to be at eye level with us — to somehow be one of us for a moment, and plead with us to stay. And I captured this particular moment on camera since I had lugged it along for the day’s dog sitting. My kids thought it was sweet enough that they leaned in for more kisses. We headed back on home.

On this particular day, Stretch must have been feeling particular keen on company. The little Houdini found a hole to squeeze though in the fence between our homes, in hopes of visiting us at our house. Twice.

Ol’ Stretch is a good egg, and one day, I hope to be more like him when it comes to loving the folks around me. Without the licking.

Stretch is awesome, though there’s a golden retriever in my own family that you’ve just got to meet in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!

Hang this photo on your wall

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