Millennial Adventures: Dogsitting covers all the bases

I’m not going to lie. I assumed that no one really reads my columns. Sure, I like my topics, but they’re pretty niche as opposed to things like food that everyone can relate to.

Much to my surprise, my last column on why millennials are broke and sad hit such a nerve that I got not one but several responses, and when we ran some of those, we got even more responses. The last time I got anything was my two-part atheism column, which earned me a few emails about how I was a terrible person, a few thanking me for my different perspective, and one rambling anti-religion manifesto (which was absolutely not my point!).

For those of you who missed the letters we ran, whether because you were on vacation that week or because we didn’t have space to run them in your local paper, the basic points I gleaned from them were 1, sit down, shut up and work, and 2, get a dog. Fortunately for these two wildly different takes on my column, I can combine their advice into one delightful gig: dogsitting.

I’ve always appreciated a good pupper, doggo or woofer. Whereas many kids go through a dinosaur or horse phase when they get obsessive about memorizing different kinds, I had a dog phase so severe that I can still identify many purebreds by sight 15 years later.

I even had a dream last week in which a poster warned of a killer giant Havanese, and within the dream (and therefore my subconscious) I knew they misidentified the dog because Havaneses are the size of an infant. Yeah, it was that bad.

Fast forward to 2016. I’ve gotten over squealing anytime I see a dog, my own Lab mix Sage had recently crossed the rainbow bridge after nearly 15 years of confusion over the purpose of a tennis ball, and one of my coworkers put out an APB asking if anyone was available to watch his two dogs while his family goes on vacation. I volunteer, having no experience beyond my own dog and hanging out with my aunt’s late boxer Abby, and the rest is history.

It turns out that blindly agreeing to watch two senior Labs for a weekend was one of the best decisions to come out of my malformed millennial brain.

Like any good twenty-something, I still live at home, and with my schedule and current student loan burden, it would be fiscally and socially irresponsible to adopt a dog. By watching someone else’s dog, I still have the dog experience without having to shell out, and aside from the occasional dog with a strict pee schedule, it’s flexible around my job and other obligations.

Most of the gigs are also overnighters at their house to keep the pets in a place they’re used to, so it’s like I get to go on a tiny vacation. Sometimes it’s even closer to work than my house, which saves money on gas.

That first weekend in April 2016 has since led to at least a dozen other dogsitting gigs, not only with that coworker but also with other coworkers, relatives, teammates, relatives of teammates, and friends of relatives. I’ve also branched off into the arts of catsitting and chickensitting, the latter of which comes with the added bonus of fresh eggs (read: free breakfast). I went to New Zealand for a week and a half in November, and that trip was more or less funded by two and a half years of petsitting.

I’ve worked a smattering of part-time jobs over the years, but you can’t beat a vacation where they pay you and there’s a dog.

(And P.S.: If you want to send us a letter to the editor, shoot us an email at times@theday.com or write us at 47 Eugene O’Neill Drive, New London, CT 06320. Be sure you label it as a letter to the editor and keep it to under 200 words.)

Amanda Hutchinson is the assistant community editor of The Times.

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