Whole Dog Journal's Blog June 27, 2011

Canine Cousins, Sort Of

Posted at 03:16PM - Comments: (5)

On Friday night, I picked up my brother’s dog, Hannah, from his house (about an hour away). Keith, his wife, and their darling almost-two-year-old daughter went out of town for the weekend, and Hannah came to stay at our house.

Dog Sitting

It struck me at some point during the weekend how much taking care of a relative’s dog is similar to taking care of a niece or nephew. You love the dog, because she’s “family” – after all, you said you would take her if anything ever happened to her! But you can’t help but notice differences in how she was “raised” – differences that you can’t quite help but feel slightly judgmental about.  When Hannah jumps on the couch without “asking,” pants in my ear and whines and is generally just obnoxious (anxious) in the car, and sneaks the cat’s food every time I forget to put it back up onto the counter, I find myself thinking, “She’s a nice dog but sheesh! I sure love my Otto.”

Dog Sitting

It’s hard to remember to also give Hannah a ton of credit for paying no attention to my chickens or ancient cat, not climbing in my raised vegetable bins, not counter-surfing, not chewing anything in the house, and for getting along so nicely with Otto (whom, I can tell, she really is not very fond of). Here she is, dropped into a new household without her family for a long weekend, and she’s being a good sport and not crying herself to sleep at night. She’s actually a very nice dog, indeed. Even if her table manners aren’t up to my standards.

Have you ever cared for a relative’s dog? How did it go?

Comments (5)

Oh gosh yes. I care for my brother's 2 BC-mixes a couple times a year. They are used to being fed from the table during dinner, they pull like matched locomotives when leashed, they place themselves optimally to be tripped over (which doesn't bother each in the slightest) and they are just all around pushy for attention, which they get no end of. That said, they are very sweet to my shy small dog, don't bully her or steal her food and allow her to blend right in with their pack. Good dogs, all.

Posted by: Carolyn M | July 6, 2011 12:44 PM    Report this comment

When my in-laws visit with their lab the differences in training are obvious. Their dog is extremely well behaved on the whole but has one very annoying habit. Instead of ringing a bell or repeatedly running to the back door when she needs to go out like my dogs, she lets out a high pitched yelp. And will continue to do it until she gets outside. No such thing as waiting for the next commercial break when she is visiting.

Posted by: mweidman | June 28, 2011 3:13 PM    Report this comment

My canine nephew Splash was a love who consoled me when I lost my two little ones within 6 weeks of each other. He was good to snuggle up with (a blond Lab), and made me play. My friend Sandy's pup, Jewel, is an older dalmatian, and she gets along very well with everyone..as Sandy is a petsitter in her home, she doesn't have much choice! Malie visited us one time for an extended visit...and ultimately was adopted by us...so no bad experiences on this end. It's all in how it's framed and one's patience I guess!

Posted by: robin r | June 28, 2011 1:08 PM    Report this comment

I have the other side of the story to tell. I had to go east to care for my parents for a month and my brother volunteered to take my two golden girls. He has golden and black lab boys. According to my sis-in-law, it took the 4 of them a day to figure out 'rankings', with one of my girls ending on top, the other ending at the bottom. When they finally came home with me my crate-trained girl would not sleep in the crate any more at night and both of them had become VERY comfortable on beds and couches, a no-no in my house. But they all had a great time together and my timid girl is not quite so timid any longer.

Posted by: Beth G | June 28, 2011 12:47 PM    Report this comment

I've had a similar experience just recently when having a friend's 7mo beagle over for a playdate for the day. It was a challenge - the beagle had just gone to a new home with my friend, we had him to stay 3 days later. He'd already been rehomed once before he came to my friend's house & had been given up as "unmanagable". He's had little basic training & although he's very sociable around dogs & people he is a typical, bratty 7mo puppy who needs to learn some manners! I have 2 golden retrievers, an 11yo male & an almost 2yo female. The beagle took notice of my male but completely ignored being told off by my girl. She was happy to wrestle with him but took exception to being humped constantly (he wasn't desexed at this point, although he has been since). It was a nightmare! I'd put him on the lead to give my girl a break but a couple of minutes later she'd be dancing in front of him saying "you're on the lead & I'm not!" Add to the mix a husband with his arm in a sling following a shoulder reconstruction & it added up to a fraught time.

For the sake of my sanity, my friendship & my relationship with my husband I've declined to have the beagle dude over since. We walk with him regularly & that's fine - there's plenty to distract him on walks & my 2 can run faster than he can but until he learns some manners I probably won't invite him back for another playdate.

Posted by: Muriel N | June 28, 2011 11:06 AM    Report this comment

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