Babysitting the canine grandkids

Written by Bob on October 14th, 2011

ROSEBURG, OR – My son Brian and his wife Jenn have three beautiful “kids” – Bella, Millie and Sebastian.

When they left for a week’s vacation, they asked me to babysit.

Now you might think a 63-year-old man – make that grandpa – would have his hands full with three youngsters. All by himself.

But with these three, as long as they have their treats and daily walks they’re just fine. That should be a clue. My three grandkids are of the canine variety.

But they are so much like children with personalities that differ like night and day.

Bella’s the energizer bunny of the three.

She’s short-legged and long, stretched out like a caterpillar; a bundle of perpetual energy. Tail constantly in motion like a flag whipping in the wind. And her smile, so sweet and trusting. When she looks up at me with mouth a gap, reaching for my hand with lapping tongue, and those brown eyes begging for a treat or to take her for a walk, she’s impossible to resist.

Millie’s the quiet, shy one. Black as a moonless night, she’s all Cocker Spaniel, and the antithesis of Bella. When I take the kids on a walk, Bella and Millie are linked together on a dual leash. While Bella tugs and pulls and races this way and that, her nose sniffing out strange and delightful scents, Millie trots quietly along by my side – dignified and ladylike.

While on a walk yesterday, Bella raced in a circle behind Millie, her leash wrapping around Millie’s backside, yanking her sideways. Most dogs would take exception to such rude behavior and nip at the bully, or at least growl a warning: “hey, knock it off buster!”

But not sweet, mild-mannered Millie. She just dusted herself off and resumed trotting peacefully along as if nothing had happened.

Now Sebastian is the manly one of the trio. He’s Black Labrador and like Millie, he’s quiet and an easy walker.

But he has a peculiarity.

When he gets tired, he’ll suddenly stop and sit. It doesn’t matter where. Crossing an intersection, strolling along a path, he doesn’t care. When he’s tired, he comes to an abrupt, mule-like stop. Sebastian will look up at me as if to say, “hey grandpa, I’m kind of old like you and need a rest.” So we’ll stop for a few seconds, while he catches his breath.

Sebastian does have an annoying habit, though. He likes to mark his territory. And he’s not particular – trees or bushes, weeds and tires – Sebastian hikes his leg and takes aim at them all. But I stop him at the tires. Don’t want to pee-off the neighbors, after all.

When it’s bedtime, Bella, Millie and Sebastian trot behind me to my room with its two single beds. While I ease in under the covers, they jump up and share the other bed.

Millie closes her eyes, curls up quietly, serenely drifting off to doggy land. Bella scratches at the blanket and moves about restlessly until finally settling in. While Sebastian stretches out and snores away.

Ah, the joy of being a canine grandpa.

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