What’s your dog like when you’re not there?

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I have a guest dog for a few weeks. I’ve known Leila for a few years – she’s about six or seven, and supposed to be a Papillion – but I’ve never hosted her when her family goes on vacation. This year, though, my availability jibed with their vacation plans, and so here she is, one of my pack for a couple weeks. So far, she’s pretty low-maintenance and easy: a tiny bit clingy (appropriate when ditched with people, dogs, and cats you don’t know) but overall well behaved. She follows the lead of my dogs, and frankly, she’s been so easy I haven’t really given her that much thought (though I have been trying to give her a bit of extra petting and attention).

Like much of the West Coast, we’re getting ready for a heat wave here. The other day I took the dogs to the river early for a short walk and some swimming. The early morning light was so pretty that I pulled out my camera phone and took some photos and video of the dogs wading and swimming, and I posted them on my personal Facebook page.

Later that day, there was a comment from Leila’s owner: “Leila went in the WATER?” I laughed. Again, I hadn’t given it much thought. It was hot, all the dogs waded – although, now that I think about it, Leila didn’t actually swim. But she waded deeply with my two dogs.

It made me start thinking about the things that our dogs are capable of that they don’t necessarily show us at home – good or bad. I was once horrified to see Otto help himself to a (human) cookie off a plate on a friend’s coffee table. His puzzled response (looking around to see who was in trouble!) to my shocked “Hey!” made it clear he had no clue that it wasn’t totally okay.

And while he’s supremely confident at our home, when I’ve left Otto with friends (like, when I’m staying at a friend’s house and I go out on an errand, leaving him behind for an hour or so), it’s been reported that he’s often worried and whiny, keeping a vigil by their front door until I return. This is very different than what he’s usually like.

And apparently, Leila is hydrophobic at home! But she’s a wader at my house – and after the heat wave, we’ll see: She just may turn into Mark Spitz.

Have you ever been surprised by a dog sitter’s report about your dog’s behavior?

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