Life columnist

Linda Braden Albert worked as a feature writer and editor at The Daily Times. She is now the editor of Horizon Magazine and a columnist.

At this point in time, I officially have four grandchildren and unofficially have two bonus grandkids who, Lord willing, will become official by the end of this year. In addition to these two-legged gifts from my children, there are four of the four-legged variety, two dogs and two cats.

Now, I don’t normally babysit since the other grandparents are so much more suited to that than I am, but in a pinch, several of the two-legged grandchildren have hung out at Mamaw’s house for a few hours. Feed them, regale them with stories about ghost cats or other weird stuff, play some games, watch a few TV shows and all is well.

Where my main value lies in the babysitting department is with my two grand-dog-ters. Yes, that’s right. Grand-DOG-ters, a phrase coined by my son to describe his boxer, Mikayla, and my daughter’s hound dog, Layla. Mamaw’s house is the preferred temporary home of the girls when their pet parents go on vacation or, in Layla’s case last year, when they moved from one home to another and needed a place for a pup during the transition.

Mikayla’s next turn to stay with Mamaw came recently when her human family went to the beach on vacation. We had to get some things straight before I agreed to keep her this time; last time she was here, she may have gotten a little spoiled. My son told me her “bony boxer butt” had to be spanked when she ended up stealing some of her human sister’s food after she went home … I told my son she could stay on the condition that there would be no spanking, because we both know I am going to spoil her. He agreed.

Mikayla, 9 years old now and with a graying muzzle, is a well-behaved grand-dog-ter. She’s also such fun to watch with all her little personality quirks, and of course, I kept up a running commentary with my son by text, complete with photos, on my observations. Here are some of the texts:

Day 1: She has explored the house, I think looking for you, has had several drinks of water, licked Mamaw down, sniffed around to see what she might find, tried to climb on the back of the couch, tried out the carpet to see if it’s comfy and is now reclining on the couch.

Day 2: So far, my grand-dog-ter went out to potty before 8 a.m., had a bite to eat of her wet food, was totally confused when Mamaw went back to bed, got up and down on the bed until she decided Mamaw was not getting up yet, finally convinced Mamaw to get up, went back outside to potty, got a belly rub, watched carefully while Mamaw scrambled eggs, had some eggs with her dry food, and is now settled on the couch.

Day 3: I know when she sits and stares at me that she is telepathically telling me she needs to go out. At night when she is ready to go to bed, she will sit and stare at me until I ask her if it’s bedtime, then she goes to the bedroom and jumps on the bed.

Day 3 addendum: All of a sudden, Mikayla jumped off the couch out of what I thought was a sound sleep and started stalking something across the floor. It was a cricket.

Day 4: She is even protecting Mamaw from the dreaded mosquito. One was flying around me last night and I smacked at it, hoping to knock it onto my arm and kill it. She was sound asleep but as soon as she heard that smack on my arm, she growled, jumped off the couch, barked, and walked around the coffee table in front of me and sat there, her head bobbing and weaving as she followed the mosquito’s flight path. All of a sudden, SNAP. No more mosquito.

Day 5: My grand-dog-ter is watching without blinking as I eat a salmon patty. (My son replied, after seeing the accompanying photo, “I see the drool.”)

Naturally, anything Mamaw ate was shared!

As much as Mikayla enjoyed staying with Mamaw, she was elated when her dad came to pick her up when vacation ended. She heard his truck in the driveway and immediately went to look out the front door, woofing and crying and hopping around, her little stub of a tail going 90 miles an hour and making her entire body wriggle with glee. I’m sure if my son had been a boxer, his reaction would have been exactly the same when he saw her.

The house is pretty quiet now. I miss my grand-dog-ter, but she’ll be back again when the time is right.

Until then, I’ll just have to swat those mosquitoes by myself.

Contact Linda Braden Albert with story ideas at LindasInkyfingers@comcast.net.

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