A few weeks ago, my girls’ father took them on a jaunt to New York City. It was the first time they went on vacation without me, and I knew if I stayed home I would wander aimlessly through the house feeling left out, so I decided I would take a trip myself. I settled on a long-wished-for destination, asked some friends if I could come and stay, and started planning.
However, this was also the first time all of us would be out of town at the same time, and none of us could take the dog. A few months ago I thought I found the perfect dog-sitter. She was willing to do it for love, not money, and she took the dog on exhaustingly long walks. When I texted her, however, she told me she was moving that weekend to a no-pet apartment. I wished her luck, and thought, “Now what?”
Now what indeed. Turns out pet-sitting is as expensive than human daycare. I checked Kijiji, did a Google search; every reasonably-priced sitter was booked, and Google listed prices at $40.00/day.
In desperation, I called my vet. She referred me to someone who charged $35.00/day– $105.00 for the whole trip. I didn’t know what to do. On one hand, to say that money is tight right now would be like saying the Depression was a small recession. On the other hand, I knew I had to get out of Dodge.
While dithering in indecision, I had to make a trip to the local mall, where I ran into My Former Neighbour From The Next Block. She is one of the few people in my community who actually likes dogs, so I asked her if she could take Our Best Friend for a few days while I skipped town.
“Can’t,” she said, with true regret. “I’m taking my son to camp that same Sunday.”
“Well,” I said, “unless I come up with an affordable solution, I’m not going anywhere.”
“How much will it be?” she asked.
“It’s anywhere from $30.00-$40.00 a day.”
MFN opened her purse. “You have to go,” she said. “You have to.” She took out $40.00. “Go. One night is on me.” She put the money in my hand.
“No way!” I protested. It’s not like MFN is exactly a millionaire either, although at least she has a job, whereas unemployment has been my status for fourteen years. I shoved the money back in her hand. “You’re crazy! I’m not taking money from you!”
MFN took the $40.00. She did not put it back in her purse. She stuffed it down my shirt. In the middle of a shopping mall frequented by EVERYONE we know. And then she backed away quickly so I couldn’t give the money back.
“You’re going,” she said. “You need to go. Have a good time.”
Well, there was only one thing I could do. I cried all the way home. Ridiculous generosity does that to me.
Our Best Friend went to the sitter, and I went to Ithaca, New York, where I had coffee one morning with the amazing Pamela Douglas Webster from Something Wagging. The dog sitter, GB, had a dog run in the back of his house, and apparently Our Best Friend was on his best behaviour the entire time. In fact, when I took the kids on an overnight trip the following week, OBF had another night there.
I’m still looking for a cheaper sitter, but at least my dog was in good hands. And I got to see, once more, how amazingly blessed I am with the best friends in the world.
This Sunday, many Jews will be fasting for Tisha b’Av, the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av. This fast commemorates the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, in 586 BCE by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia, and 70 CE by the Romans.
The Talmud tells us that the first temple was destroyed for various cardinal sins, such as immorality, but the second temple was destroyed because of “sinat chinam,” or baseless hatred of Jews for their fellow Jews. This post is dedicated to “ahavat chinam,” love for one’s fellow Jews, as exemplified by My Former Neighbour. Indeed, it is dedicated to the kindness we should all show one another to make this world a better place to be.