I've been house-sitting and pet-sitting across Canada and Europe for about ten years now, ever since a neighbour asked me to look after her cats and plants for her holiday. Since all of my pets have long passed, I look forward to those weeks when I get to have endless kitty schmoopie-boopies and doggie snuggley-cuddles, and yes, I talk in those mushy baby voices to the pets because it makes me feel ALL THE THINGS.
And even though some homeowners have passed me a cool couple hundred-something for a job well done, I never ask nor expect to be paid. I do it because I always want to have a Lil Bub and a Doge all up in my grill.
So when you found me on a housesitting website and asked me to look after your two fat-bellied-felines who love tummy rubs and snuggle time, I said, "No problem."
The first time out, you failed to mention one cat had a serious history of constipation. When I rushed the snugglebum to the vet, you failed to pick up your phone or even answer your emails. The goddamn vet was faxing (FAXING!) and calling your hotel, and I actually tried to contact your tour guide, yet still you were AWOL. When I finally reached you days later at midnight on the phone, you said, "Oh yeah, I heard a ringing in my room, I didn't know what that buzzing sound was."
Telephones: They've been confusing since 1876.
Then why weren't you answering my emails, lady?
"Oh, I never set up my email account before I left."
I thought my lesson was learned: you're a useless space cadet. But then I thought, you're annoying, like Shia Labeouf in Transformers, but relatively harmless, like Shia Labeouf at a cabaret night. So when you asked me earlier this month to return for a couple weeks while you took your second holiday of 2015, I cheerfully agreed because the snugglecats have itchy tummies and THOSE TUMMIES AIN'T GONNA SCRATCH THEMSELVES.
But when I arrived to grab the keys, before I'd even closed your front door behind me, you totally blindsided me.
"Yeah, one cat's not doing so well. I have a plane to catch, so I've made an appointment for you to take the cat to the vet to be euthanized," you said.
JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, lady. You wanted me to help execute your cat?
Before I burst into tears (it was an ugly cry, there was snot), I told you flat out that it was extremely irresponsible of you to leave such an important decision until the day you were flying away. This should have been handled by you before I arrived. It should not fall on me to handle such a traumatizing job. This was not only a display of neglect for your pets, it was also a complete lack of social graces/a soul. You had known for weeks that I was returning, and not once did you contact me to give me any warning that you were considering this before my arrival.
And what kills me is you actually tried to make me feel guilty for having an emotional response!
I'M NOT A ROBOT. MY EMOTIONS DON'T JUST SWITCH OFF.
I'll intellectualize the situation when I've had time to process my emotions, not mere seconds after you've told me the cat I've cared for and loved is less important to you than catching your flight. I appreciate that you have a busy life and things need to get done, but in my defence, I don't care.
How dare you attempt to dump this responsibility on me and wash your hands of it. Who do you think you are? Better yet, who do you think I am? I am not your scullery maid/guillotine, here to do your dirty work for you. FOR FREE.
And in case you were wondering, I did hear you on the phone to your neighbour, asking him to come do the deed. "Yeah, she's freaking out and crying, can you just come here and do it?"
I have taken care of cats with diabetes, cats with renal failure, cats with severe food allergies, three-legged cats, dogs with behavioural problems…. and not once did their owners ask me to kill their pets.
Once I had a moment to "intellectualize the situation," I talked with many other pet owners about this incident. They—people with hearts that beat in their chest—were all shocked and appalled by the mere suggestion that a stranger might handle the euthanization of their pets. It is completely outrageous, traumatizing, obscene, uncivilized, and inhumane.
That's why I filed a complaint with the housesitting website. Minutes after emailing them that first complaint, they called me back from their head offices in the UK and talked me off a ledge. They emphatically agreed with me that it's not the housesitter's responsibility to euthanize a pet, and they would never expect a housesitter to actually agree to this job. They told me they had never encountered an incident like this during their time in business. They told me they would investigate the matter and even suggested they could remove you from the website.
But did they? Nope. You're still on the lookout for your next housesitter to exploit and demean.
But, lucky me, you did delete the positive reference you left for me on my profile, one final act of spite that suggests you were more technically proficient that you let on. You acted beyond the realm of civilized society, and I got punished.
You do not deserve any love from your pets, and I fear every day for the well-being and safety of your remaining cat. She will likely die alone in a cold, antiseptic vet office, surrounded by strangers, while you throw money at your problems and dye your hair another shade of Fake 'n' Bake.
I hope you die alone and that your cat feeds on you, nibbling your fleshy fingers down to the bone.