“Early in the journey you wonder how long the journey will take and whether you will make it in this lifetime. Later you will see that where you are going is HERE and you will arrive NOW…so you stop asking.”
― Ram Dass, Be Here Now
Slowing down is not my best skill. It wouldn’t even make it into the top ten list. I routinely spend a couple nights a week sleepless because my brain won’t shut down. I get up early, feed our critters, jump on the computer with coffee in hand to answer emails and deal with the day’s schedule changes before going out on my morning pet visits around 7 am. The words “Type A” come to mind.
Maybe that’s why pet sitting is such a good corrective for me. You can be type A for approximately seven minutes of a half hour cat visit, unless someone has vomited or had diarrhea, and then you might stretch the type A stuff to ten minutes. After that, you have to settle down and either play with Kitty, or, depending on Kitty’s age and preferences, pet and groom. If the visit is to a dog, there are walks to take and walks are about exercise and sniffing and taking care of business and enjoying the day. Not type A stuff.
With animals the only thing to do, once tasks are completed, is to stay in the moment and pay attention, that “be here now” stuff. I know pet sitters who skip the fun stuff – the play and hanging out – and just do the work that needs to be done and take off, but I can’t see the point of that. I’d just as soon sit at a desk if pet sitting is just about cleaning litter boxes, freshening water, feeding, and just letting the dog out to potty.
I have to be honest and say that sometimes that hanging out stuff gets boring. Especially on mornings when I’ve got six or seven cat households in a row. But I remind myself that these visits are often the highlight of the pets’ day when their people are gone. This visit may be the most fun or the most comfort that a cat or dog will get that day. I may be bored playing with the Cat Dancer or the laser for the sixth time this morning, but the cat is having a blast.
I may be tired of walking dogs already that day, but the stimulation of being outside and smelling the scents of the other neighborhood dogs and whatever else is there makes that dog’s day and sends that tail wagging.
How can I begrudge them the very best moment of their day? Really.
Other days the visit is all about challenge. I’m caring for a couple cats right now, new ones for our services, and one of the cats is incredibly stressed out. He’s been under the sofa for a week, and if I so much as offer my hand for sniffing he charges and growls. I feel so sorry for the poor guy. I spend my time with the other resident kitty who likes me just fine, and hope the scaredy cat decides I’m not so bad. Today, after almost a week, he came out from under the sofa. He issued no invitations to me. Three feet away was about the closest he came. But he was out, and he stayed out, and he watched me play with his kitty roommate, and he’s thinking about me. Hopefully, he’s thinking good thoughts and not planning my demise.
Either way, a lot of pet sitting is just about being present, about being in the moment and paying attention to whatever is needed or wanted, and seeing what you can do to provide that. It isn’t about looking ahead or behind. I’m pretty sure it’s the universe’s way of trying to teach me something. I’m a notoriously slow study on this one, but the cats and dogs are patient teachers. Someday, maybe someday soon, I’ll get it, and when I do, maybe I’ll rename my business to Be Here Now Pet Sitting. What do you think?