The electrician is coming over to look at something in the basement. What does this mean if you have pets, especially poorly behaved dogs?

It means that one of you (Dr. Dasaro) keeps a vigilant watch out the side door to the driveway. The other one of you (me) stands ready in the kitchen. The electrician is a lovely man, but he said only that he'd be here "this morning." What does that mean? At 9 a.m.? At noon? He didn't say. So here we are, on our day off, frozen in place, awaiting the guy who is going to fix something.

When he shows up (my husband has dozed off in place, and the dogs have alerted me to the imminent arrival), we spring into frantic action. "Let them out!! I'll let him in!!" I shout at the dogs to come on, let's ALL go out, EVERYBODY OUT!! They clearly are confused about the need for shouting, but obediently head for the back door. Out they go into the frozen tundra of a backyard. Happy for about one second (the time it takes to sniff around, pee, and come back to the door) they now begin to pace, to whine, to rip up the shrubs while waiting to see how long it takes to get let back in. Their other plan is to bust out of the back yard, storm the electrician's car, eat his egg sandwich in the lunch bag, and fall asleep in the back seat of his car. Either one will work; both are excellent plans.

Meanwhile, my husband races into the basement to show the kind gentleman the location of the breakers and offer polite conversation while the gentleman wonders about the ruckus he can hear from the backyard all the way down into the basement. My husband reassures him that the dogs are "actually very good" and "nicely behaved once they settle down." The service guy looks for alternate routes of escape and regrets not bringing his can of Mace with him today.

Finally, the work is done, and our friend drives off, happy to escape alive.

The dogs are returned to the kitchen, happy to be muddy and filthy. They troll the house for signs of visitors, find nothing to report, and settle back down for a deserved nap.

The humans are exhausted and defeated. Days off are brutal. When do we go back to work? Because we sure prefer other people's dogs.

Dr. Ellen Friedman is in general practice, with an interest in geriatric feline medicine, at Newburgh Veterinary Hospital and All Creatures Veterinary Hospital in New Paltz. Email her at