Confessions of a (Horrible) Pet Sitter
posted by: Amber Johnson
My friend Jana was looking for someone to check in on her cat and fish over Spring Break so I volunteered my middle schooler Hadley. She loves animals and her career aspiration in first grade was to run a Cat Hotel until she later learned it’s not cool to be the crazy cat lady until you’re over 50 years old.
I figured she’d be better equipped to take care of animals since she got off to a rocky start babysitting humans when my friend Sarah asked her:
“Hey, Hadley. Do you babysit?”
“I’m not really good with kids.”
As a former publicist, I was appalled at her pitch. She later told me she was caught off-guard and meant to say I’m not comfortable taking care of babies. She repented of her trespass by volunteering to watch Sarah’s kids for free while she attended a church event. Hadley limped through the door several hours later.
“How was it?”
“Exhausting. I spent the entire night running around after three boys. How do you do this EVERYDAY?”
And suddenly, the heavens opened and the herald angels sang the Hallelujah shout to the tune of “PAYBACK” for all those sleepless, colicky nights.
As it turns out, she enjoys babysitting (or at least the money she makes) so how much better would a gig be for beasts you don’t have to chase?
Hadley’s responsibilities were simple. Replenish Kitty’s food and water every day, clean the kitty litter box and feed the fish. Jana hadn’t formed an attachment to Fishy and went as far as to say she wouldn’t be sad if he didn’t survive, which made us wonder if we were hired to be fish sitters or assasins. Jana told us we probably wouldn’t even see Kitty who accesses the house via a cat door after partying all night with her feline friends and sleeps all day. Easiest cat-sitting gig ever.
Or was it?
Day 1: Hadley opens garage door, goes about her responsibilities with Kitty. Starts to feed Fishy. He is dead.
Or is he?
We text Jana to ask if we should give him a watery burial. She responds, “He sometimes just looks dead and doesn’t move for a while.”
Day 2: Fishy appears dead in a different position so we figure he’s still alive in his own way. No sign of Kitty but food has been eaten so we’re in business.
Day 3: Fishy is moving. It’s an Easter resurrection miracle.
Days 4 and 5: Hadley stays at Grandma’s so I take over duties. All seems in order.
Day 6: Hadley continues her responsibilities. Goes to enter mudroom via the garage but the door is locked, which means we can’t access the house and that I was the person who inadvertently locked it the day before. Panic sets in but fortunately, Kitty’s food and water are in the garage so we can take care of her. Tragically, Fishy will go from resurrection to famine within three days. The irony is not lost on me.
Day 7: When we arrive THE GARAGE DOOR IS ALREADY OPEN. “We closed it when we left yesterday, I’m 100% sure of it,” Hadley wails.
We hesitantly make our way through the garage to the mudroom door, which mysteriously opens. Even though it’s been less than 24 hours since our last visit, Fishy appears really dead this time and is floating on his side at the bottom of the bowl. We feed him anyway because he’s a master manipulator and as we’re attempting to leave the house, we realize the doorknob will not budge and we’re locked inside with a fish who could come to life at any moment.
It takes a few panicked minutes until we position the doorknob just right and we make our escape…but not before I put something in the door jam for the next time we get locked out. Or in. Really, the whole thing is confusing.
I hesitantly text Jana that we were able to get back in the house.
“Oh, our friend needed to grab something today,” she responds. “He probably left the garage door open! I also remembered that mudroom door is sometimes hard to open, so you have to twist the knob really hard.”
Hallelujah shout Take 2.
Day 8: Fishy confirmed dead and Kitty is alive. Allegedly. We didn’t see her all week but she ate all her food. It was probably for the best because we saw Fishy every day and look what happened to him.
Day 9: Jana’s family returns home. Hallelujah shout Take 3 as we are relieved of our pet sitting duties.
When I was relaying the tale of our memorable Spring Break to my son Bode, I joked, “Don’t you want to be a pet sitter?”
“I think I could have done a better job than you and Hadley,” he retorted.
The [low] bar has been set.
P.S. Did I mentioned we’re available for hire?