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Becoming a Crazy Dog Lady

Updated: Apr 8

Olivia and Archie in The Bunker (photo by author)

In week 30, despite never owning a pet myself, I agreed to dogsit and was quickly transformed into a Crazy Dog Lady.

A Stupid Idea?

In Week 30, I agreed to dog sit for two small critters in the nearby neighborhood of Principe Real. Being slightly allergic to dogs and having asthma, this seemed like a stupid idea on my part. Alas, I could not leave the little darlings alone so I packed a bag and headed to the bus stop.

The dogs belong to a friend I met here in Lisbon that oddly enough, used to live a block away from me back in NYC. She came here a few years before me and decided to stay. We met at a party where she brought the dogs and I fell in love with them. They are such cute and sweet little souls. After a few drinks, I agreed to dog sit when she next went out of town.

Getting To Know You

So here I was, opening the door to two doggies I had to keep alive for 5 nights. I’ve never had a dog but I do have a heart so wanted to make sure they were okay. Their names are Olivia and Archie and I have no idea what breeds they are as I am by far, no dog expert. Olivia is the spark plug of the pair while Archie prefers to operate in the shadows.

I’d been warned that Archie was very peculiar and did not like to be watched while he was eating. Olivia would take food out of your hand so she was not going to be a problem. I noticed that Archie was extremely nervous and would go into his hole if frightened. It did not take much to scare him as I learned after I moved the chair at the table near his corner bunker. He fled into the corner like a nuke had been dropped on the dining area and his little pet bed was a certified fallout shelter. On the other hand, Olivia would jump initially but quickly go back to business as usual. My kind of dog.

Netflix Nights (photo by author)

Gaining Archie’s Trust

To gain sweet, nervous little Archie’s trust was going to be hard. I tried to stay out of his way, giving him food and water and quickly leaving him in peace to hopefully eat. So he would not starve, I gave him and Olivia treats throughout the day. I took them on long walks, giving them plenty of time to sniff around and mark their territory.

The first night, little Archie was sitting all alone in his fallout shelter, while Olivia and I were watching netflix on the sofa. It seemed so sad for poor Archie to be left out. In order not to frighten him, I moved slowly closer to his bunker, eventually sitting next to him. I inquired, as if he could understand, if he would like to join Olivia and I on the sofa and binge watch Band of Brothers. Apparently Archie likes WW2 flicks so he let me gently collect him and transport him to the party on the sofa.

Olivia Standing Her Ground on a Walk (photo by author)

Getting Played

As the first days passed, I became concerned about a couple of things. First, one bowl was not emptying despite me giving Mr. Priss plenty of alone time to eat his food. Second, during our walks, I realized that while most dogs moved around a bit more efficiently, my two charges, mostly Olivia, took ages to work the neighborhood for a spot to do their business. What was I doing wrong?

Looking for help, I sent an SOS to my friends in a group chat, all dog lovers. One agreed to a quick consultation. After explaining the fact that Archie was not eating and that Olivia makes walks take an eternity, my friend simply said “They are playing you.” WHAT??? These adorable creatures playing me? She confirmed that indeed they are as why wouldn’t they? She said she would love me if she were a dog, giving treats even though dog food went uneaten and long, luxurious walks with no end. She explained I needed to cut out the treats and take charge when we walked.

Realizing I needed to lose the fear of killing these sturdy looking dogs, I immediately implemented her tips. Soon everyone was falling in line and still happy and healthy. Treats were cut back and walks included more actual walking instead of a long slow sniff around the neighborhood. They ate their food, even in front of me, and they trotted around the neighborhood easily. Things were on track!

Saying Goodbye (photo by author)

Saying Goodbye

The last day I got very little work done. I took the pups on our usual walk to secure the neighborhood but added some time in the park while I had a tea and a stroll to the viewpoint down the hill. I took them so far I had to carry little Archie back as he was exhausted. After I confirmed their Mom was in the air headed their way, I sadly said goodbye and headed home.

It had not taken me long to become a Crazy Dog Lady.

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