Monday, December 29, 2008

Pet Parenting Problems

I have a problem. Ok – I have several problems, but I truly have a problem when it comes to explaining to people how to care for my animals.

A friend of mine planned an impromptu trip to Florida the other day and literally emailed me right before departing for the airport asking me to check on her kitties while she was away and explaining what to do if I could. Of course I would help her out – I am a pet parent and I know just how much anxiety one can have when it comes to the care of their children. The guilt you feel in asking someone to check on your babies – because it’s more than making sure they have food and fresh water and a clean litter box or a clean stall. It’s more than making sure they aren’t trapped in a closet or their head is stuck in a fence or that they accidentally turned on the faucet in the kitchen sink. It’s about spending time – and loving them (like you do) and comforting them in the absence of their owners.

Ironically, the first day I stopped by my friend’s house to check on her 2 precious little furry bundles of joy, was also the day we were at the football game, and somewhere around the 3rd quarter we called our neighbor and asked him to feed the goats and Dixie for us. He’s fed them before, but it’s been a while and so Marty did his best to try and remind Carl who goes where and gets fed what. You see – it’s complicated. Sort of.

“Doesn’t Carl have the instructions, I gave him?” I asked Marty.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “What instructions?”

“You know – the ones I typed up for your parents when they house-sat over the summer?”

“You mean that 4 page mini-novel you wrote this summer? I doubt Carl read the first paragraph.”

He had a point. Four pages was a bit excessive. And his point was only further cemented when I got to Karen’s and her kitty care instructions were succinctly typed on 1 page. I had to streamline.

If you want a glimpse into the sickness of my mind, you can take about 15 minutes and read through the original instructions here. As you can see, I attempt to share every nuance of our relationship with the animals in the hopes that whoever cares for them will try and do the same. I now see the foolishness of my ways so here is the new version:


1. Put Dixie up in her stall and lock her in.

2. Feed Dixie: 1 cup (~ 8 oz.) of Bartlett horse feed (in the black barrel with the wooden top) – the plastic cup is in the feed bag.

3. Dixie eats locked in her stall alone.

4. Prepare the goat food: 1 scoop of corn (blue barrel) and 2 scoops of Goat Chow (silver trash can) mixed in the red bucket (on the shelf in the feed closet).

5. Feed the goats at the fence first - ~ ¼ - ⅓ scoop per trough.

6. Call for Lucky or nudge her (if she is at a trough already) and walk back to the barn. Also, bang on the scoop on the bucket handle to get Surprise Steve’s attention. Lucky and Surprise Steve eat in the second stall. There are 2 black rubber dishes in there and they each get a generous ¼ - ⅓ scoop. Lock them in their stall.

7. Nugget usually comes back to the barn as well. She goes in the first stall and she gets ¼ - ⅓ scoop in the white plastic dish. Lock her in her stall.

8. Check all 3 water troughs (fence, barn, Dixie’s stall) and change/top off as needed. You can use the blue bucket hanging in the barn.

9. Once all the animals in their stalls finish eating, let them out.

It probably won’t surprise you that this is slightly edited from what I originally wrote (I had a bullet point in there about treats which Marty removed). But it’s concise and to the point and easy for anyone to understand whether they have fed our animals before or not. I slipped it in a plastic sleeve and nailed it to the barn wall next to the feed closet so that anyone can fill in for a day or 2 should we need them to.

I also couldn’t resist labeling the stalls:

And if that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your…


Anonymous said...

Can you say 'obsessed'? I knew you could. I do understand the need to have your pets well taken care of when you are out. Dirk and Tigger are pretty self-sufficient, though.

Hope you and Marty have a wonderful New Year.


Linda said...

You are too funny!!