Under Santa Fe Skies

by Susan Tungate

Abandoned, Tortured, and Starved!

It started like any other day. I was hanging out with My Person in the kitchen, watching her make coffee, when her cell phone rang. I hear: “Yes, thanks for returning my call. I need someone to pet sit over a long weekend.” Oh no. “I have a cat and two small dogs,” she says. “One of the dogs, Georgia, is a little shy.” Well, that was more kindly put than the groomer, who said with an edge, “Georgia has an attitude!”, but I digress.

At some point later that day, Sofie starts barking her lungs off. I awaken and naturally decide to join in because I know that is what dogs are suppose to do. In walks a woman who I would judge to be in her late seventies with preternaturally dark  hair.

“Well, hi! Aren’t you two the cutest puppies.” Sycophant Sofie jumps up to be petted. I give a small wag to be polite. Just as The Woman leans her face into mine and starts to reach for me, My Person says, “Don’t pet Georgia, remember, she will scream.” The Woman’s hand hovers over my head for a second, then, as if a child told not to touch the hot iron, she goes for my head and I let out the most ear piercing scream I can muster and run under the table. “Oh,” she says. “She really does scream.” Idiot.

My Person proceeds to explain the ins and out of the care and feeding of the three of us. She goes on and on and on but she also has typed it all down on paper, because that is her way. I hear snippets of what My Person says from my post under the table: “Harry is an indoor cat. Never let him out….No, please don’t sleep over…Last call outside should be about 7pm then off you go… Sure you can make breakfast here…Oh, no, no need to vacuum, it is a bit temperamental…Please don’t go into my office because I have things piled all over the room for a project…”

Then My Person says, “If Georgia hides under the bed, do not feed her under the bed or she will never come out. Lead her out with pieces of dried chicken.” YES! I love dried chicken. Note to self: Hide under the bed.

Then The Woman says, “Where is your TV?”

“I don’t have one. It broke this summer and I decided not to get a new one until the lead up to the political conventions is over.”

“Good idea! It is so stressful. I saw the Guan Yin statue on the patio so you must be a Democrat and I am a Republican, but don’t worry I hate Trump, he is a clown. I support Rubio.”

“Well, ok then, ” My Person says as she composes her face, “good to know.”

“I’ll need to use your computer over the weekend if that’s ok. I have bills to pay,” says The Woman, as if she were asking to use the toilet.

“I’m sorry, but no. And please, again, don’t go into the office.”

I am thinking she has to go so I sneak over to the carpet in front of the couch and do what I have never done in the eight years My Person and I have lived together: I make a very small, really fairly discreet deposit. Not two seconds later The Woman eyes my social statement and tells My Person who exclaims, “Georgia! Let’s go outside. What the heck was that about?”

GUESS, I want to say. Take one guess. You have a law degree for goodness sakes, but seeing this is a feckless effort (and yes, dogs know the word feckless), I run under the bed, shaking my head at the futility of it all.

The Woman then asks how to use the radio. “Not a radio,” My Person explains. “It is an iPod.” The Woman does not know how to use it, so My Person shows her.

“Is that a second iPod on the shelf? What’s in that?”

“Classical music. It works the same way as the other one.”

The Woman finally leaves. We go about our lives. I have dodged a bullet. Until one morning before sunrise, My Person feeds us, picks up a bag and walks out the door. I know this is not good.


A few hours later, in walks The Woman carrying several bags. I run under the bed. During the next few hours, I hear the sound of pots and pans, the smell of oatmeal, the sound of coffee beans being poured into the burr grinder and the grinder crunching the beans, I smell coffee, I hear stuff being moved around in the freezer, the sound of the contents of a kitchen drawer being dumped out on the counter. I hear Sofie and my names called to go outside, a call I ignore under my post. I hear our food, my food, being poured into my bowl. I do not move. I hear music. I fall asleep.

When it is dark outside, The Woman calls My Person. I hear: “Georgia has not come out all day. She is under the bed….no I did not try the chicken…ok I will roll up the rug…ok…ok…yes, Harry and Sofie have been great…Ok…Bye.”

So I am thinking we are going to do the dried chicken thing and I will fly out the door to pee and back to eat my dinner before heading under the bed, but no. The Woman says goodnight and leaves.


The second day is best explained by The Woman’s call to My Person late in the day: “I got Georgia outside! I am exhausted and shaking. I just made myself a cup of tea. Well, this morning she was in the office. I shut the bedroom and bathroom doors, took two chairs and trapped her. It took eight hours but slowly I pushed her inside the chairs to the patio door. I opened the door. It took 15 minutes of my pushing and her screaming twice, but she finally went outside and pooped. Where was Harry when the door was open for 15 minutes? Oh, he was on the couch encouraging her to go outside. Well, I knew it was a risk Harry might run outside but I thought I could catch him. Ok. I won’t do it again. Ok. No, I did not try the chicken. Ok. No more trapping her in the chairs. Where is she now? Oh, she ran like hell and is hiding in the furthest corner under the bed. Ok. Ok. Have a great time! Bye bye!”

Then she placed a bowl of water and a bowl of dry food near the end of the bed and  left the house.

What The Woman did not say is that she pulled up the bed skirt and planted a huge, industrial strength flashlight under the bed, aimed straight at me. Why? I do not know, but I am a deer in headlights. I don’t dare budge.


I have lost all sense of time. The Woman arrives. She sticks her evil face under the bed, hoping, I think, to find me dead. My hope is the battery will die before I do so I can die in peace.

Speaking of dying, I hear her turn on the vacuum cleaner in the office. Two strikes. Then I hear silence. The vacuum, il est mort. Dead. Broken. From under the bed, even with the light in my eyes, I watch her spread the body parts in the hall.


I no longer know if it is summer or fall. Hope is vanishing. I am hungry and boy do I have to pee. The Woman’s cell phone rings and I hear: “You landed! Great. Ok. An hour? Ok. Well, I usually like to be here when people return, but ok. Ok.  It’s been great! Thanks again!” And The Friggin Woman leaves.

I run out as fast as I can and pee a rivulet where the rug use to be.

Not too long after, I hear My Person’s car coming down the driveway and Sofie hears it too and Harry jumps on his perch and we are barking and twirling and wagging our tails as our precious Person walks in the door, saying, “Hi there! Let’s go outside Georgia and Sofie! How are you guys?” I run outside, knowing in about five seconds she is going to find my river of shame, but I do not care because she is home!

Footnote: For the next day or so I watch My Person as she finds the detritus of the weekend: the broken vacuum lying in state in the hall, the silent coffee grinder no longer able to move its burrs, the kitchen drawer rearranged, rubber bands placed around the can openers, the freezer containers placed in a bin, the jar of coffee beans now beanless. At one point she leans down and picks me up. Holding me close she says, “I am so sorry, Georgia. The Woman is off the list.” And I wag my tail.


  1. Barbara Harrelson says:

    Susan, This post is such a poignant, mostly funny, and perceptive account of your dog’s feelings. I loved it and felt moved to say that I would be happy to help out some time, if you don’t find the right pet sitter for the future. I hasten to add that I would do it as a friend, not a paid pet sitter. At the moment, I am without a beloved companion, having lost my wonderful cat Sunshine on Oct. 13 after 12 years together.
    I am not yet ready to bring in another cat or dog, but expect I will be in the next few months.

    If you need to go away soon, pls. call me (989-4561) and let’s discuss. Don’t think we’ve met, but we have friends in common who would vouch for me.

    Barbara Harrelson

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