The day after the day after we arrived home, Bryan from Pooch Pals came to give Gregg and me a debriefing on the candidate's activities while we were gone. I shook my head in disbelief as I watched Ray try to turn himself inside out in the sheer joy of greeting his bodyguard/general factotum after being separated for an entire day. Bryan had a big grin on his face as I described the welcome-home that we had received upon our arrival.
"Our dog sucks," I said to him in mock seriousness.
Bryan laughed then made his way to a chair in the living room followed closely by a leaping, licking Ray. As the bodyguard sat in his chair, the blind hound zeroed in on Bryan's face and the trim beard he wore.
"Maybe he thinks Bryan is part dog," I thought to myself, "He's got a bit of fur on his face. Maybe that's why he's so attractive to Ray."
As I pondered my dog's attraction to Bryan, the half man/half dog waxed poetic about the awesomeness of Ray and told us of all the things they had done together.
Meanwhile, finished with greeting his best friend in the world, Ray came over to the couch where I was sitting, climbed up, curled himself into a ball next to me, and fell fast asleep. I felt better.
The day after we had arrived home, while Gregg and I were walking Ray around the block, we had heard from various neighbors that they hadn't seen Ray around the 'hood while we were gone. Everyone seemed concerned, but I knew I had given Bryan carte blanche to take Ray wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted, and I was sure after Skyping with him that they were out and about all the time.
And they were. Ray went to a dog-park, walked daily with Bryan's other clients, met some of the human owners, and visited Bryan's home, all while being chauffeured around in a convertible. While Gregg and I were on vacation, Ray was having the time of his life. No wonder he loved Bryan. Ray was living the dream.
I was slightly concerned, however, when one of my neighbors said that Bryan hadn't been at the house for the last three nights of our trip. He had been there during the day but was absent at night. I really didn't want to broach the subject because, obviously, Ray was still alive, in good health, and completely gaga over his caretaker, but as a good dog-parent, I felt I had to bring it up.
"Uh, Bryan," I said, inwardly squirming, "One of my neighbors said that you weren't here the last couple of nights and I was just wondering what was up."
Bryan looked very serious when he replied:
"Ray was with me. My business partner was dog-sitting when he had a family emergency and I had to cover for him. So I took Ray with me."
I'm sure I must have looked stunned. Bryan of Pooch Pals, LLC had performed way above my expectations. He had made a command decision in an emergency and taken Ray on a sleepover. Ray LOVES sleepovers.
"Ray LOVES sleepovers," I said aloud to our new-found-permanent-dog-sitter-until-he-dies-or-Ray-dies-whichever-comes-first.
We settled up with Bryan and followed him outside. Bryan walked to his car slowly trailed by a sad, blind hound some distance behind.
"Ray you're staying here," I told my dog.
Ray hesitated then stopped. I walked up next to him and put my hand on his back. We watched Bryan leave then turned and walked back to the house together. Ray climbed onto his spot on the couch, curled up and fell fast asleep again. His vacation had worn him out.
The exhausted dog slept, preparing himself for the rigorous campaign ahead.