As we packed to leave for our monthly weekend camping trip, I worried, as I always do, about how Mother would fare while were gone. She’s got lunch fixings and TV dinners and ice cream bars, her walker, her pillow, and the western channel, and the emergency button necklace that is essentially a cell phone with one giant button that only dials the emergency service we pay for on a monthly basis. She is at home by herself on the weekdays she doesn’t go to the Senior Center, and does just fine, but I still worry, even though the PT who worked with her last year said she has clients less “with it” than Mom who still manage to live on their own.
This time, since we had an event planned with friends for early Saturday, we decided to leave on Friday evening, and also decided to leave the dogs so they wouldn’t be cooped up in their kennels while we were gone a good portion of the day on Saturday. They could also to keep Mother company, as her biggest complaint when we take our camping weekends is how much she misses us and how lonely it is without anyone at home with her. We did something similar in May, when we went to Disney, and it worked out well with one of our friends checking in on her and also making sure the dogs were being fed.
In May, Steve made up little bags with the dogs’ names on them for their breakfast and dinner, but Mom didn’t feed them breakfast. She doesn’t normally see them being fed breakfast, and I wasn’t sure she had been able to read the baggies Steve had fixed up. This time, I made sure he used labels, and then showed Mom the bags and explained how the dogs ate twice per day and how each dog had separate breakfast and dinner baggies for each day.
She didn’t call all weekend and since we were so busy, I didn’t think to call until after she would have gone to sleep. I told myself everything was fine, but I was still worried a little, and all kinds of outrageous scenarios played through my mind. We’d get home and find her fallen, with the dogs sitting beside her, keeping watch. Or we’d get home to find the dogs locked in the garage, having barked themselves hoarse because she couldn’t hear them. Or she would have become incapacitated and missed feeding the dogs and they would decide she would make a fine meal substitute.
Fortunately, none of those uglier things came to pass, but little Sophie, who really doesn’t need to miss a meal, didn’t get to eat all weekend. While I thought I had been very clear on how to feed the dogs, and Mother made yes-I-understand noises, she really didn’t get it.
Gracie gets dog food from the supermarket, which comes in good-sized crunchy bites. Sophie, with her little, tiny mouth and delicate tiny dog teeth, gets food from the pet store that resembles cat food, because it is the only food she can chew. Instead of feeding each dog from the marked packets, Mom split Gracie’s food bag between the two dog’s bowls (the only reason one of Sophie’s bags above is empty is because I used it to feed her right after we got home – she was really hungry!). When we got home, she told us that The Little Dog (she has a hard time remembering Sophie’s name) hadn’t eaten hardly anything while we were gone. I tried to explain to her that Sophie couldn’t eat the big pieces of dog food and how we had specifically marked the bags. Mom kept nodding and agreeing with me as if we were saying the same thing and just kept saying how she tried to feed The Little Dog but she wouldn’t eat anything.
How often do you think dog-sitters are hired to come in and feed dogs when someone is still at home?