Looking after a friend's pet

Babysitting a pug rocks our editor's world

The Knowledge

It started simply enough. After cooing and aahing over every mention of our neighbouring friends’ new pet pug, Betty, myself and my better half were swiftly asked to ‘pug-sit’ during their week-long holiday. Naturally, I hesitated. This was responsibility. Responsibility, as a rule for most twenty- and thirtysomethings living in Dubai, doesn’t really exist outside of working hours.

What’s more, I come from a ‘cat’ family. First there was Nipper and Nobbler (named by my hilarious father), then Harry and now Felix. Dogs only arrived on the scene after we all moved out, and my mum felt compelled to fill her empty nest with Eddie, a happy-go-lucky cocker spaniel. But he’s only been around for the five years I’ve been over here, so I certainly wouldn’t call us ‘close’.

Could we really handle looking after a little pug? What if we dropped her? Or she ran off the lead and into the JBR traffic? Or bit us? Fortunately my fears were calmed when we hosted Betty in our apartment for a ‘test night’. While she didn’t stop running around and sniffing everything in her path, she didn’t bark. She curled up under our feet and posed well for photos. She was, it’s now clear, on her best behaviour.

You see, the first night we accepted full responsibility for Betty, she turned into another pug altogether. She ‘let herself go’ twice on our pricey rug (well, it’s not ours – but the owner is out of the country and won’t read this… I hope). She didn’t go to sleep until 2am, then woke again at 7am. She jumped on top of me in bed, then sprawled across my pillow when I sat up. She even gnawed furniture. By the end of night one I decided that I had been right to dodge pet/child responsibility for all these years.

But then something funny happened. She seemed rather pleased to see us the next evening when we visited said friend’s apartment to take her for a walk. I started enjoying Dubai Marina’s dog-walking scene, looking out for the springer spaniel, Jack Russell terrier and chihuahua doing the daily rounds. Betty started following me everywhere I went; even standing outside the bathroom and staring at the space where I would reappear afterwards. I started sending photos of myself and Betty to friends and family… she even curled up between us in bed, and neither of us minded when she snored her little pug face off.

Betty’s rightful owners return in two days. According to www.pug.com, two days is enough time to train a pug to do almost anything – such as pretend not to recognise its own pug parents. I know we’ve forgotten their names already…

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