My best friend has a child named Thor. Let me rephrase: Melissa, who I’ve known for 20+ years, is the owner of a five-pound Miniature Pinscher. The pup is her pride and joy. He’s a cute, tiny dog who not only can jump an impressive four-plus feet in the air, but his high-pitched yelps and barks are pretty intense, too.
Historically speaking, Thor and yours truly have not gotten along. Don’t get me wrong: I like dogs. My friend Kiara has a mellow, sweet dog I adore. And, I, personally, want to adopt a teacup Maltese and name it Godzilla. But, Thor … Thor and I do not see eye-to-eye (quite literally, and figuratively).
Whenever I would visit my bestie at her apartment (or Thor accompanied us to an activity), he would be a non-stop source of energy — typically a force I was neither ready to receive nor patient enough to deal with. The result: a skinny animal pouncing all over me, and trying to lick my face, unwelcomed. But I digress.
A couple months ago, Melissa and our other friend (and I) started planning a trip to Ecuador. But, as fate would have it, I would have to stay back. I started working with Liquor Lab, Manhattan’s first hands-on, interactive craft beer, wine, spirits and cocktail event space. And, I was needed in the city. Instead of exploring South America, I would be playing with alcoholic beverages. (Totally okay.)
Of course, Mel needed someone to pet sit. So, I volunteered. Silence, shock and questions from everyone in our friend group came next — ranging from: “Are you sure? You hate that dog!” to awkward stares and wincing. And yes, I was thinking the same thing.
So, it began: my 10-day trial, with a peppy pooch.
Over the course of a week and a half, there was no doubt that Thor impacted my social life. A few nights, I chose to stay in and invite over friends, rather than go out. Other evenings, I had to rush home to walk him (instead of spending an extra hour at the bar with friends). In a lot of ways, this was healthy — I was getting to bed at a decent hour ... but perhaps it was making me a bit more of a homebody (still, might be a positive thing).
Alternatively, dog-related chores — like taking a chunk out of my morning to walk Thor, while it was very cold and still dark out (I might add) — wasn’t the most thrilling … but, on a positive note: it gave me time to chat with friends and family, on the phone, while strolling the streets of New York.
Thor ended up adventuring to Long Island with me for Thanksgiving as well. He was introduced to my grandparents, who both found joy feeding and playing with the little guy and following him around their house. (Commuting there with a cage, leash, food, etc. was not the highlight of my holiday, for the record.)
At the end of 10 long days, I felt a stronger bond with this animal I once was not so fond of. We've definitely buried the hatchet (or bone?). In any case, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I know my friend was extremely thankful that I watched her dog. And, although we now get along famously, I was thankful she came home to reclaim Thor, so I could go back to my normal programming.
Maybe I’ll adopt Godzilla one day, but for now — in New York — I’m quite content taking care of my friends’ pets when they need a helping hand (or paw).
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