On my third and final night of dog-sitting, I came prepared for battle. I had been robbed of 2 full nights of sleep by this hyperactive puppy’s need to play fetch at 4am in the morning. I accepted this assignment from my Aunt of watching her Morkiepoo (just found out what that is), believing it would be some nice time away from my home so I could do some writing and meditation, but it turns out I actually had to actually spend attentive time with the animal that I agreed to watch. Fortunately, this experience turned out to be quite a lesson for me in love, boundaries, patience, and more.

Chloe was already hyper when I walked through the door. I’d arrived at the apartment at 12am, coming back baggy-eyed from a long meeting. She immediately brought her corner-bitten red rubber bone shaped toy to me and barked every 5 seconds I didn’t pick it up, as if I didn’t see it, or wasn’t taking my coat off, or didn’t need to settle in, or wash my hands or drink water. So I grabbed it, and chucked it clear across the room, watching her speed to bring it back to me. And as she shuffled to bring it back within a few seconds, this night I was already there to meet her halfway to steal it from her mouth, and toss it to the other side even more quickly. This continued for a good 30 minutes. The way I played fetch that night I felt like I was Lebron James going baseline to baseline doing chasedown blocks on Iguodala for Cleveland’s first championship in 60 years. An uninterrupted night of sleep would be my championship.

Soon I began to notice her hard breathing that continued through her from exuding all the energy she could into this game of fetch, with no sign of stopping. This made me even more competitive, as I felt my own allergies beginning to kick in as well. Deeper ties began being made more clear in our interaction. An understanding begins to form when such adversaries engage in the heat of battle.

As I observed Chloe tripping over herself to reach that broken toy and bring it to me over and over again, it suddenly dawned on me where her drive comes from. That she had been spending her whole day alone while I was away doing my own thing outside. And that this isolation had also been experienced the past two days I was dog sitting, and even when her mom is home because of the long shifts I know her owner (my aunt) works. Chloe is giving this playtime her all because she spent so much time of her day waiting for this, and reveled in the experience.

I grew up this same way. But instead of fetch, I just played video games while my parents were gone. And when I got older, I put that energy into basketball and music. Chloe and I were very similar. And this made me try even harder to tire her out, to give her a worthwhile time. After a few more rounds she fell to the floor exhausted.

Of all my days watching her, she was never this relaxed. I proceeded to the bedroom where I changed into my pajamas for some cozy sleep. 10 minutes later she was ready at the edge of the bed and barking to play again. I carried her out of the bedroom and closed the door on her to go to sleep again, ignoring the crying and whimpering. I’m the oldest sibling, i’m used to it. When I woke I gave extra treats and we were cool again. I got my sleep for the next day. Don't tell my aunt.

-Jiggy Jeron

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