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A Unique Occupation

 

I was both curious and intrigued by the ad in our village newsletter that read like this: Do you know Elmo, Bud, and Cocoa? These are just a few of the pampered pets that Alberta McConnell takes care of in Indian Village while their owners are on vacation or away for the weekend. It's mostly a summer job with an occasional weekend during the rest of the year.

She has always loved pets. Her mother said as a one year old in her playpen she pulled the tail of their dog. So, taking care of pets seems a natural thing for her.

She has always been fascinated by names and thinks it's remarkable how many of the pets have people names such as: Bud, Elmo, Elliot, Maury, Minnie, Sasha, Phoebe, Philo, Farley, and Taylor. And then there's Sledge. He was named because he chewed the handle from a sledgehammer.

She told about Sonny and Jacks, a pair of Sheltie male dogs she's taken care of for three years. One Christmas she went to take care of them and saw they had drug a charred log out of the grate, across the white carpet in the living room. They had chewed on it also. The strange thing was that they had not touched the Christmas tree.

Two dogs in one home have their own bedroom suites. The rooms are decorated with what-not shelves, and photos of dogs on the walls. Phoebe's room (a Dalmatian mix) is papered with black and white checkered paper. She will not go to sleep at night until she's covered from head to toe with her red IU blanket. Think of the picture that makes.

Lady, a black Lab, gave her quite a scare one day. Se went to feed him and then let him outside while she watched TV. When she went to call him, he was nowhere to be found. She was just certain he'd jumped over the fence and ran away. She was really panicky and then she saw him lying on top of the glass top umbrella table. He had been watching her the whole time through the window.

She has two cats that left her a tip. They couldn't be found when it was feeding time. She spied them under the bed so she put their food dishes close to the bed. Going back to check on them, there was s shiny state quarter lying between the two dishes.

Elliot, a chocolate lab, grunts like a pig. He occasionally gets out of the yard and walks the three blocks to Alberta's house to see her. He comes into the house, heads straight to their dog's toy box, lies down and plays with them for a while. One time he came at 5:00 AM. The owner had forgotten to shut the garage door.

The most fascinating tale is of the two praying dogs. Maury and Bear are labs, one is black and the other is yellow. Before they receive their dog biscuit, they lay down with their paws straight up in the air. Whoever is giving them the treat prays: "Lord help us be thankful for the dog biscuit we're about to receive. Amen." They don't touch that treat until the amen is said and then it's gone in one gulp.

The owner took these dogs to a church to talk to children and show them what the dogs do and the importance of prayer he ended with this: If dogs can learn to be thankful then you can do it too.

Cats, dogs, parakeets, cockatiels, iguanas, a ferret (that has a three-tiered cage and loves cherries), gerbils, rabbits, hamsters, mice and rats are the great variety of pets under her care.

Labradors seem to be the most popular breed of dogs in Indian Village. She has an Irish setter, Dalmatian mix, Spaniel, Irish wolfhound mix, Border collie, American bulldog, Golden Retriever, Chow mix, Rottweiler, a dachshund and Shelties.

Alberta is surprised at the number of dogs on medication. Mostly it's allergies and she sometimes has to have a computer program it keep track of it. It shows how much people really care about their pets.

Alberta is also surprised at the number of pets in households. Many homes have two dogs, two cats and one household has four dogs.

Even though she's pretty well tied down during the summer, the good part is it doesn't matter how she dresses or whether she has her hair combed. Pets don't know. Sometimes her day starts at 7:00 AM and she has to make 12 to 16 visits for all these pets. That was the busiest time she has experienced.

She did tell me an ironic twist to her story. "Our dog is a worrier. He always has to be in a controlled environment so we have to put him in a kennel when we go away.

The experiences she has with pets and their owners' shows she has a job she really likes.


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