When you agree to pet-sit for a friend, there are three basic assumptions to be made:
1) You will feed the pet.
2) You will keep the pet safe.
3) You will do your best to keep the pet alive until your friend returns.
No problem, right? Piece of cake, right?
So why was it that I managed to break 2 ½ of these rules within the first minute of pet-sitting a dog named Biscuit?
When my friend and neighbor Barbara Stafford, the designer of this website, asked me look after Biscuit, I agreed immediately. It didn’t hurt that Biscuit was one of the cutest dogs I’d ever seen.
I swear to God, she looked just like a baby seal.
You know those flyers you get in the mail? The ones from wildlife organizations asking you to give them large amounts of money? And they put a photo of a baby seal on the flyer so you’ll fork over all your cash?
That’s what Biscuit looked like. A cute-as-a-button, wildlife-flyer-starring baby seal.
This baby seal had issues, though. She was on meds. Serious meds. If she didn’t take them regularly, she would die.
This didn’t intimidate me, though. I didn’t actually have to administer the meds to Biscuit. I just had to drop by and feed her. And tell her how cute she was.
I can still remember how excited I was the day I walked over to Barbara’s house for my first visit with Biscuit.
I was about to spend time with the cutest dog on the planet! How lucky was I?!
As it turned out, not so lucky.
Here’s how it went down:
I opened the door to Barbara’s house. There was Biscuit, right at the door!
It’s hard to describe what happened next, because it all happened so fast. But I’ll try.
The minute Biscuit saw me, she busted through the door and attempted to flee. Luckily, she had her collar on and I grabbed it. But the instant I grabbed her collar, she twisted her head in a freakish maneuver worthy of a professional escape artist.
(I found out later that her nickname was Houdini.)
Next thing I knew, I was holding Biscuit’s collar. Without Biscuit.
That’s right. The baby seal had escaped.
She was charging away from me faster than the wind. Actually, given Biscuit’s medical situation, it was more like the wind on meds. A foggy, disoriented, physically-fragile wind.
I tried to chase her down, but every time she saw me, she’d zoom in the other direction. Eventually, she ran through a wooded area behind our housing complex and disappeared altogether.
I freaked out. I’d lost the baby seal! I was officially the worst pet sitter in the world!
I tried calling Barbara, but she didn’t answer. I called animal rescue, but it turned out they didn’t make house calls anymore. I was on my own.
Oh, and did I mention that Biscuit wasn’t actually Barbara’s dog?!
Barbara was pet-sitting Biscuit for some friends. In other words, Biscuit had run away from a house that wasn’t hers. She was already disoriented from her meds, and now she was wandering around an unfamiliar neighborhood.
This was bad.
I had managed to lose the beloved, medically-fragile pet of strangers! I didn’t even know them and I had ruined their lives!
After searching for Biscuit on foot for an hour, I decided to jump in my Prius and make a wider sweep. I drove around and around the neighborhood for severa more hours, asking everyone if they’d seen a white dog with the face of a baby seal.
No one had seen her.
Just when I was about to give up, my intuition told me to drive up a road about a half mile from Barbara’s house. Up, up, up the hill I drove.
No sign of Biscuit.
Once I got to the top of the hill, I got the hit that I should turn right, past a small school.
And there she was! Biscuit!
I couldn’t believe my eyes. What were the odds?! I’d found the baby seal!!
There was just one problem:
The baby seal wanted nothing to do with me.
Yes, I had found her, but I was the one she was fleeing from.
When I got out of the car to lure her to me, she bolted in the other direction. I’d even brought doggie treats in an effort to gain her affection, but Biscuit wasn’t having it.
As far as she was concerned, I was the cause of this whole mess. She had no interest in anything I was selling.
Eventually, we came to a standoff. Biscuit ran up a hill and I sat in my car, at the foot of the hill.
Now that I’d found her, I couldn’t leave.
I didn’t have a cell phone at the time, so there was no way to tell anyone where I was. All I could do was sit there.
So I did. It was me and the baby seal, sitting and staring at each other for over an hour.
Until, at last, Biscuit stood up.
What was she doing? Was she going to come over and sample some of my doggie treats? Was she going to apologize for her rash and foolish behavior? Was she going to burst into song about the plight of baby seals?
No. It was none of those things.
Instead, Biscuit wanted to walk. She wanted to walk down the road while I followed her in the car.
What a pretty pair we were. The baby seal and the Toyota Prius, trucking on down the road!
Biscuit walked down the street and turned left. I turned left with her. At the end of the road, she made another left. I did the same. When she turned right at the next street, I realized what she was doing.
She was walking back to Barbara’s house.
Yes, she was disoriented. Yes, she was on serious meds. Yes, she was being chased by a dog-treat-carrying, Prius-driving crazy person, but that didn’t mean Biscuit didn’t know her way home.
The rest of the story is a blur. I remember that Barbara showed up soon after. I remember that she – and Biscuit’s owners – were grateful I’d hunted her down.
I remember that Biscuit still wanted nothing to do with me.
But the main thing I remember about my Biscuit adventure was how good it felt not to give up. To follow my intuition. And to play a part in leading Biscuit home.
It’s how I feel about my spiritual path.
The consistency I bring to my meditation practice. The determination to look for positive aspects in my life. The power of following my intuition.
But it’s more than that.
So many times in my life, I’m Biscuit. I run from those things that would benefit me. I’m foggy and disoriented, wandering around in strange places.
But the Divine always finds me.
The Divine always comes to my side and coaxes me home.
It’s been years since my little Biscuit adventure. Since then, Biscuit has passed to the Great Dog Park in the Sky. She lived a long and happy life, and I am grateful for the short amount of time I got to spend with her.
Even if she was running from me the whole time.
Whenever I think of Biscuit, or see a picture of a baby seal on a wildlife flyer, I remember our little adventure.
I remember that I can run, but I cannot hide.
I remember that no one and nothing are as tenacious as the Divine in holding my good for me.
And, most important, I remember that when chasing down a heavily-medicated baby seal, it pays to have patience.
The patience of the Divine.
When have you acted like Biscuit? How has the Divine been patient with you?