Aspen Princess: Living the dog’s life |

Aspen Princess: Living the dog’s life

Alison Berkley Margo
The Aspen Princess

So I’m taking care of my friend’s Yorkie and he is sitting on my lap as I type this. His head is perched on my forearm, which, truth be told, is exacerbating my carpal tunnel.

Agreeing to dog-sit is kind of like when a single girlfriend asks your husband to help her move. The movement of your friend’s lips might look harmless, something like, “Hey, are you guys around next week?” when really what she’s saying is, “You owe me big time, and you know it.”

The thing is, you really can’t say no.

It’s true. I did owe Ambere. She watches the pug for us all the time, and the pug sheds so much it’s amazing she has any fur left on her body. Plus, she snores so loud you have to wear ear plugs if you’re not used to it. She’s also bossy and she barks at everyone and everything, even if her bark does sound more like a smoker’s cough. The first time we took her to the vet and she barked, he was like, “Is that a sneeze?” And he should know.

Ambere also had the unfortunate experience of dog-sitting our German Shepherd when he first got sick. He’d had more than one accident in her house, and when I said, “He’s never done anything like that before,” I wasn’t lying. It turned he had a legitimate excuse. He was soon diagnosed with cancer and died a few weeks later.

So when she asked me to watch Archie, it’s not like I could say no.

We’re talking about a moody, finicky dog who doesn’t like anyone and goes on hunger strikes when his owner is out of town. He lays in bed all day long, moping and defeated like a girl who just had her heart broken.

The last time I took him for a walk when Ambere was out of town he cowered on the pillow, flinching every time I went near him like I was about to electrocute him or give him a shot.

“It’s OK, buddy,” I said, pulling his helpless little scrawny 8-pound body into my lap while I tried to figure out the bondage harness she makes him wear. Naturally I put it on upside down so the leash attachment thing was on his belly instead of his back and I practically dragged him down the street on the clumsy leash that’s made out of climbing rope and way too big for him while he silently screamed, “You idiot! You buffoon! Take me home this very instant! I don’t really need to go out for a walk, I swear! Just leave me be! I can hold it for days!”

Needless to say, I wasn’t that excited to be living with a dog that essentially hates me for a whole week.

But then something funny happened. As soon as Ambere dropped him off at our house, he pranced around, his tail a-wagging, eyes bright, ears perky. He jumped into my lap as if we’d been best friends our entire lives. And there he stayed.

And stayed there, and stayed there some more.

God forbid I put the dog down. He jumps right back up in there. And that dog can jump. High.

At night he has to worm himself against me, skin-to-skin. It’s kind of like sleeping with a steaming pot of water. He’s so hot I start to sweat, like back-of-the-knees sweat, and want to throw a leg out from under the covers, but I can’t because the pug is on the other side of me, snoring loudly and on top of the blankets so no one can move.

I’m literally sandwiched between two tiny dogs who might as well be elephants. These little creatures have me bound to the bed like their hostage. Yes, I tried putting him on the floor but he just jumped back up. I tried shutting the bedroom door but he just whined and cried until I let him back in. I have officially become a prisoner of two toy-sized pedigrees, and don’t let their cuteness fool you — they are cunning, manipulative little creatures.

The best is when I drive and they both want to sit in my lap, only they can’t stand each other and bristle as soon as they’re within spitting distance. Their desire to smoosh their hot little bodies on me and pant in my nose so I can’t escape the smell of their tackle-box breath no matter which way I turn my head. Because Archie refuses to let his fur touch Gertie’s fur, he stands on my lap and puts his front paws and head on my shoulder in a pathetic but desperate attempt to maintain full body contact with me while his nemesis lurks a few inches away.

Meanwhile, Gertie has her butt wedged against the driver’s side door so she can half sit on my lap, her front paws draped over my thigh like she owns me. I’m sure driving with two dogs in your lap is against some law or another, but clearly I’m not the one in charge here. Yes, I’ll leave them at home next time.

The other surprise is that Archie has been eating like a drunk after last call, scarfing down his food in one sitting. Sure, it might have something to do with the ground elk I snuck in there to get him to like me, but whatever. I’m not above a little manipulation myself.

What I really appreciate is when big Mr. Little literally barks orders at me. I should hand it to him for being a pretty good communicator, because boy, does he let me know when he needs something.

Don’t get me wrong; at the end of the day I’m happy I could help my friend who is enjoying a lovely yoga retreat in Mexico. Hell, with the under-cover temps in our bedroom hitting the mid-90s, I’m practically there with her.

The Princess wishes everyone a happy offseason. Email your love to