I do a little dog-sitting on the side. Mostly in the neighborhood. It’s not arduous. It gets me off my duff and away from the computer. What’s not to like?

I’m in the middle of a three-week gig looking after one dog, two cats, and five hens. Oh yeah, and one pot of sourdough starter. No prob. But this is school vacation week on Martha’s Vineyard, and during February school vacation week, Vineyard people like to go away.

Hens having breakfast

Hens having breakfast

The short version is that this past weekend I was scheduled to look after two additional dogs as well as the dog, the two cats, and the five hens. And, of course, Travvy. And the two books I’m editing. And the essay I’m writing.

As the weekend drew closer, I wondered how I was going to pull this off. Necessity, however, is the mother of improvisation, and it helps if the dogs cooperate.

Which they did.

Zena, the little schnoodle next door, is fine off leash. So she’d come along to T-beau’s house, hang out with T-beau while I let the hens out and checked for eggs, and then come along with us to Star’s house.

Star the Bernese mountain dog

Star the Bernese mountain dog

T-beau the labradoodle

T-beau the labradoodle

T-beau’s an old guy. He strolls at a leisurely pace and isn’t fazed by anything. Star’s full of energy. If you let her off lead, she loves to play “catch me if you can.” I’d play too if I didn’t have a bunch of other things to do.

From Sunday night Zena had someone staying with her, so after that I’d pick Star up, go to T-beau’s house, tie Star to a tree while I let first T-beau and then the hens out, then go for a walk with Star and T-beau.

Trav watches

Trav watches

Trav watched all these comings and goings from the deck and sniffed me with interest when I got home. Then he and I would go for our usual hour-long walk, just us.

Now Star’s people are back. T-beau’s people don’t get back till the end of next week, but life is so much simpler when you’ve only got two dogs, two cats, and five hens to take care of. The cats want nothing to do with either Trav or Star, but when it’s just T-beau and me one or both will come walking with us.

20140224 cricket walks

Cricket comes for a walk

We make quite a procession, not least because T-beau and the cats, Cricket and Lovebug, are so well color-coordinated.

Despite the extra chores, I’ve managed to keep writing. Morning is my best writing time, but the sun’s rising earlier these days, so I’ve been managing to get up a little after six and write until 7:30 or so. Whatever I’m working on then ferments in my head while I’m out walking with dogs.

The sun’s also setting later, which means the hens aren’t always in their house when I come by to take T-beau out. Once I tried to persuade the hens to go in before they were ready. Bad idea. Better to accommodate the hens’ schedule. They aren’t interested in mine.

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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2 Responses to Overbooked

  1. Victoria Cotton says:

    Loved reading about all the critters in your care. Read the post early in the morning….a lovely way to start my day.


  2. Shirley says:



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