Tag Archives: pet sitting

Poodle Nanny Diaries

27 Mar

I find myself in a bizarre situation. I have agreed to be a live-in poodle nanny. Hear me out.

A couple of months ago, our landlords told us that they were not going to renew our lease, because they wanted to give our apartment to their daughter. At the time, I couldn’t face the news. I was drowning in anatomy and chemistry exams and figured I’d deal with finding a new place to live when our June 1st move date was up. But a couple of weeks ago, my roommates both found apartments to move into in the beginning of April and began pressuring me to do the same, so that we could all break the lease early.

I started telling my friends that I was looking when a co-worker told me about an interesting proposition from a client who we have all worked with in the last couple of years. This client owns five black poodles, the newest of which are two young poodles that don’t get along with the eldest poodle. They live in a mansion in the Upper East Side, and the client, a woman we’ll call Marie, was looking for a live-in poodle nanny. I was skeptical. It sounded crazy, but curiosity got the better of me, and I agreed to meet with her and talk about the situation.

Attached to the 5-story home is a small studio apartment, a couple of blocks from where I work, around the corner from Central Park. The deal is that I will live there rent-free, with a small stipend for food in exchange for letting the two youngest poodles sleep in the apartmentĀ at night. The caveat is that it is something like a nanny job. They expect me to be there at a certain time at night to bring the poodles into my apartment and to stay there. Marie explained to me that she still wanted me to have a life, but that I just needed to inform the house manager of when I was going to be out at night, so that they could arrange for one of their many, many assistants to watch the dogs for me. I’m still unclear on how strict it all is. How much freedom I’ll actually have.

But I was pulled in, lured by the curiosity of the situation, of this woman. I’m so intrigued to find out how they live, how they function. I thought about it for a couple of days and told them that I would give it a shot. We agreed to do a three-month trial to make sure that I like the job and that they are happy with me. It was exciting and strange at first, but now a bit of panic is starting to set in.

How beholden will I be to these people? Do they really expect me to lead some sort of Cinderella life where I have to drop whatever I’m doing at 8pm to run back to the apartment to greet some poodles? Why can’t the poodles just hang in my apartment while I’m not there? How nice is the pool on the roof? I’m trying to calm myself down by remembering how much money I’m going to save while I’m in this current stretch of post-bacc pre-med school and how if it doesn’t work out, I’ll pretty much be in the exact same position that I am now, looking for a new place to live. But I’ll have a story. And really my whole life has just been chasing stories to tell the nurses at the old folks home one day. Maybe this will be an incredible experience, and I’ll love it. Maybe I’m entangling myself with international crime lords. At this point, I honestly don’t know. And that’s where my nervousness and my anxiety is stemming from. But all new journeys start with a little bit of fear and hesitation I suppose.

Walking a Mile in the Client’s Shoes

30 Mar
Lucas

Lucas

At my clinic, we refer to a lot of our appointments as “Upper East Side Problems.” People will bring their pet in for an “emergency” appointment, and it often results in something silly. A pimple on the nose, licking of the paws, not eating their entire breakfast, standing in the hallway looking off into space for too long. I sometimes think our clients have too much time on their hands and that they must spend a majority of their time staring at their pets, manifesting problems out of thin air. They then show up at our clinic in a nonsensical panic, complaining about how their pet is nervous about being in a new place. “Please don’t put Fluffy in a cage! I can’t bear the thought!” I have little patience for these people.

A couple of weekends ago, I was pet sitting for two of my favorite patients, Ellie Mae the pug, and Lucas the fat cat. I’m friendly with the owner, and she had warned me that Lucas has become a picky eater, lost weight, and been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I have stayed with them since the diagnosis, and it means that when he is dropping a deuce in the litterbox, he makes the saddest little kitten cries. It’s heartbreaking.

So I walk into the apartment on a Friday after work to be greeted by Ellie Mae who is making her pug squawks at me, letting me know that she is ready for dinner. But I notice Lucas hanging back a bit, sulking. Then I start to notice small drops of diarrhea everywhere. In the entryway, in the living room, the bathroom, and leading out of his litterbox. I text the owner to ask if that is something that has been happening. She texts back in a panic that, no, the diarrhea is a new development. I start texting the veterinarians asking for their advice. I’m hovering over Lucas, feeling his pulses, checking his mucous membranes for tackiness, testing his skin turgor, overall annoying him. I call the clinic and make an appointment and spend the night not able to sleep with worry.

In the drizzle-rain the next morning, I put Lucas into his carrier and bring him into work with me. I set him up in a cage and have the doctor’s look at him. As in multiple doctors. I want bloods. I want fluids. I spend most of the day hovering in the cage, petting the stressed out cat and telling him it’s okay. I have in a 24-hour period become the crazy clients that I find myself complaining about most of the time.

I’m an anomaly in the vet tech profession in that I don’t own any pets of my own. I would LOVE to, but my apartment lease doesn’t allow it. I also feel too irresponsible, too prone to spontaneously going out, too overbooked to give a pet the love and attention that it deserves. So this weekend of taking care of a sick animal that I have a deep fondness for was an important experience to have. Although I still stand by the fact that the majority of our clients have too much free time on their hands, I get the neurotic obsessiveness. It comes from a place of love and a feeling of helplessness when their pet is not feeling well.

By the end of the day, Lucas was doing much better. He was stressed and hiding in the cage (which shattered by heart), but the veterinarians and I rehydrated him and found some better food options that are more compatible with his delicate bowels. Later that night when I got into bed, he came with Ellie Mae and I. He curled up under my arm purring, and I knew that he was feeling better. And after a full day of worrying about him, the three of us slept soundly through the night.

Our post-hospital cuddle-fest.

Our post-hospital cuddle-fest.