'Wee' Weeping Willy Westie
Having had a Westie ourselves, we were quick to say, 'Yes' when asked by an extremely nice couple to go house sitting and dog sitting in a small village just outside Royal Tunbridge Wells to look after their aging Westie called Bruce. 'Only thing is', said the lady owner, 'He's 16 years old, doesn't quite have full bladder control and his willy weeps a bit'. 'He needs to go out a lot, does leak a bit in his sleep, as well as, occasionally, whilst making his way around the house'. Somewhat more ominously, she added, 'He does let you know when he wants to go out but you don't have long to get the door open!'
The house sitting was in a comfortable, spotlessly clean, two bedroom home and, luckily for us, it had wood laminate floors throughout. Lynn thought this a big plus over carpeting if we were going to be dog sitting a poor old chap who was going to be leaking a bit. She was even more delighted to find an X5 steam mop, probably her favourite cleaning implement, in the under-stairs cupboard. As an aside... last year I happened to let slip to our friends at Odyssey Tennis Club that I'd bought Lynn an X5 Steam Mop for her birthday and was roundly castigated by all and sundry as a neanderthal, sexist, mysoginist but I can honestly report that she was thrilled with it. Following her Birthday 'Breakfast in Bed', I was required to sit on the side of the bed feigning interest while she explained the various attachments to me. One of Lynn's great house sitting joys is being able to clean someone else's house.
Once the owners departed early afternoon, we unpacked and headed off to the park with Bruce. If anyone has never had a Westie, they may not fully realise their character and before we owned our Westie, I heard the breed described as ardent and self-assured. Let me tell you what the breeders really mean when they say, 'ardent and self-assured'. They mean stubborn, bloody-minded, only do what they want, when they want and only ever at the speed they want! Westies have no idea they are small. In their mind, they are a match for any Rottweiller or Alsation. Westies are the living embodiment of why small, wiry, combative Scotsmen make the very best SAS soldiers. However, unlike small, wiry, combative Scotsmen, Westies are irresistibly lovable and Bruce was no exception. Walking a Westie, especially an elderly one, involves lots of standing around and very little actual walking. Each smell has to carefully examined, inhaled from a variety of angles and analysed before moving on. Any attempt to move on before the process is complete results in firmly dug in heels and the realisation they are indeed amazingly strong for a little dog. Finally, an hour and something later, we have circumnavigated the whole park, a total distance of perhaps 300m, something of a relaxing contrast to our last two dog sitting assignments: a lively Pointer and a Dalmation!
The owner is an organised lady, so pads were provided to put under towels where he lies, in case he leaked. Oh, the joys of dog sitting! Bearing in mind the warning about him letting you know he wants to go out but not having long, we spend the evening and each subsequent evening leaping up each time he so much as looks at the back door. Well, when I say 'We'... unfortunately, I've chosen the chair nearest the back door! I'm also getting over an adductor muscle groin strain caused playing tennis, have a dodgy back, am somewhat overweight and the armchair is very, very low for a tall fellow and made of a slippery faux leather material. Six or seven times each evening I find myself being frantically and unsympathetically urged to quickly open the back door for the dog, by an unpleasantly vocal wife who is sat on the sofa, a whole step further away, sipping her glass of wine! Clearly, out of the blocks, I am no Usain Bolt but I do my level best to find some purchase on the leather and groaningly lever myself upright whilst trying to protect my groin and back, all the while being unhelpfully abused for not being quick enough. By the time I am upright, Bruce has his nose firmly jammed against the back door which I throw open in triumph as there is no puddle appearing on the floor, look in vain towards Lynn for what I feel would be some well-deserved praise and Bruce, without even going out, casually turns around and heads back to his blanket to resume his lie-down.
With bed time approaching I consult the owner's notes on sleeping arrangements and discover Bruce sleeps in the bedroom alongside the bed on a towel placed on one of his pads. Somehow, I know he's going to be on my side. Sure enough, it transpires I'm going to spend my nights next to a leaking, snoring Westie who barks and farts in his sleep and will do his level best to take my foot off at the ankle if I forget he is there and accidentally tread on him when going to the loo during the night. This house sitting and dog sitting is not all plain-sailing!
Of course, in less than a day, we were totally won over by Bruce who would melt anyone's heart, so we (Lynn) happily trotted round mopping up after him and for 16 years old, he did do incredibly well. When we went out he had a spot on the bend of the stairs where he relaxed and we didn't feel too bad leaving him for up to 3 hours as he needed his sleep and seemed to enjoy the peace and quiet. Apart from enjoying the lovely house and surroundings, as well the wonderful Westie, Bruce, we also got to do some exploring and one evening we discovered a real gem - a Ghurka Restaurant in a not very salubrious area of Tonbridge but with wonderful write-ups on Trip Advisor. The write-ups were spot on with unusual interesting Indian and Chinese fusion food rooted in Nepal's location between its two huge neighbours. The food was fabulous, the service attentive and it did great homemade puddings, unusual for either Indian or Chinese Restaurants. Another bonus to another interesting and enjoyable house sitting and dog sitting experience.