humor, Uncle Jesse

Caring for My Dog: A Simple 137-Step Guidebook

Dear Reader,

Congratulations! After careful review, you have been selected to oversee my 8-year-old Australian Labradoodle, Uncle Jesse, while I’m away. Given the exceptional taste you’ve demonstrated by reading this blog, I feel marginally concerned certain you’ll be able to accommodate my dog’s daily demands.

Because I’m so confident in your abilities, I’ve attached only the abbreviated version of my 137-step guidebook. If at any time you find yourself doubting your caretaking capacity, please call one of the nineteen numbers I’ve listed in the back of this manual.



It’s imperative that both you and Uncle Jesse remain hydrated at all times during his stay. This includes, but is not limited to: chilled, Brita-filtered water, refreshed 6-30 times per day, washing and drying the bowl after each rotation. In a pinch, you may provide tap water; we strongly discourage the use of bottled water.

You will know you’ve misstepped if you’re greeted by this pose.


Uncle Jesse insists upon an on-demand supply of V-Dog kibble. If any kibble goes uneaten for more than 12 hours, please sample before deciding whether to discard.

Regarding the placement of his bowls, please select a warm, well-ventilated, cushioned area of the home where he will feel comfortable dining in his preferred reclined position.

Each time Uncle Jesse reenters your home after his mandatory nature bathings (see Step 3), he will expect a “treat” for his willingness to return to your humble dwelling. Acceptable treats include homecooked, plant-based items, arranged on a ceramic plate as follows:


Should you question your ability to select a permissable food item, I’ve drafted this reference card:



Uncle Jesse has grown accustomed to 5 miles of brisk walking out-of-doors each day; however, this can be broken into 2+ segments as we understand your employer refused to provide a leave of absence for this visit.

Uncle Jesse prefers the unsullied Maine wilderness, so I’ve emailed you a weekend itinerary that would allow for the 16-hour roundtrip.

As with hydration, stretching is paramount before each session. If you find he is panting for more than three and a half minutes upon returning, please encourage him to lie down and point your fan directly on him:



Assuming you’ve strictly followed steps 1-3, you can expect an impressive number of bowel movements per day. These occur in varying volume and composition during the aforementioned 5-mile walk, so carrying an array of multi-sized “poop bags” is prudent.

Please refer to attachment B for a list of defecation coordinates that meet Uncle Jesse’s poop-to-house-distance ratio requirements.


Uncle Jesse is deeply committed to “total wellness” and therefore insists upon 12+ hours of uninterrupted rest time per day. Please leave your bedroom door ajar at all times. I noticed you had extra pillows on the couch. I suggest moving these to the bed while he adjusts to sleeping in a new location.

Placing towels on the bed to protect your linens will only arouse his rancor.



You’ve probably heard that most dogs enjoy fetch. Being of a highly sensitive nature, Uncle Jesse would rather remain indoors for playtime, with you sitting on the ground and tossing his toys directly into his mouth while he perches on the couch.

If you fail to amuse him, he will notify you by placing the toy between his chin and the pillows that I’m sure you have remembered to return to the couch before beginning this exercise.



Uncle Jesse and I are still reviewing the finer points related to the presence of any…well. You know.


At this stage in our discussions, we would both prefer if you locked any “Others” in the basement for the week as we believe it will reinforce the natural balance of things and keep all parties safe from psychological harm. We’re just looking out for your well-being here.


Uncle Jesse has an ever-expanding repertoire, with evidence of his aptitude appearing at 10 weeks old.

To maintain this intellectual agility, we enjoy practicing shake, stretch, sit, lie down, paw, other paw, little speak, big speak and “Watch the hair, huh!” on a daily basis.

Please also feel free to pass by our local Catholic church at 7:00am, 8:00am, 9:00am, 12:00pm and 6:00pm so that he might work on his pitch.


Do not, under any circumstances, tamper with his hair, nails, ears, or teeth. If he appears standoffish, remember to say “please” before asking to pet him.

Soooomebody forgot her manners.


Should you need to chauffeur Uncle Jesse, please leave the back passenger side seat free (he will not tolerate the other side), and leave the window rolled down fully, provided the speed does not exceed 45 MPH and/or the temperature remains above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you do not excessively stare, he will permit one rearview window photograph per car ride.

And not to worry, dear reader – those new lights in each room are simply CIA-approved surveillance cameras.


15 thoughts on “Caring for My Dog: A Simple 137-Step Guidebook”

  1. Dear Jules,

    Thanks a thousand times for entrusting me with the sober responsibility of attending Uncle Jesse’s well-being. I expect to experience great satisfaction and personal growth. Of course, those are insignificant considerations. Uncle Jesse’s welfare dwarfs all other imperatives.

    I don’t want to exceed your instructions, but may I offer a couple of optional steps to further enhance Uncle Jesse’s health and enjoyment of life? (If you have already covered them in the full manual, I apologize for the presumption, but these days I never read anything longer than the warning sheet for a new medication.)

    Art Appreciation

    So that Uncle Jesse won’t be deprived of the emotional balm one receives from great art, I intend to play piano for him, Mozart or Rachminoff only. Of course, I don’t expect him to merely sit and listen, so I’ll keep close watch and play only while he is eating. For variety, I may occasionally toss a bird into the basement so he can listen to the cats howl.

    Spiritual Growth

    This is a challenge, since Uncle Jesse has already achieved such a high state of enlightenment. I propose to provide soft Buddhist chanting during his 12+ hours of sleep. Fifteen minutes every two hours should be enough. I wouldn’t presume to use a recording, so I myself will chant.

    I eagerly await your guidance.

    P.S. May I link your post on my blog? I want to be certain that someone else is prepared to seamlessly back me up, in case I’m killed by careless use of a new medication, or by de-orbiting space junk.

    (I’m sorry if this comment is duplicated. WordPress is being a pain today.)

    1. Dear Bill,

      Uncle Jesse and I stayed up all night reviewing your proposed additions to the guidebook. We’re seeking clarification regarding several points:

      1. Art appreciation – at what volume do you intend to play the music before, during, and after his meals? He would prefer a slow build, and at no point should the decibel level reach higher than 50-60dB.

      2. Are you willing to give triangle lessons to the opposable thumb-challenged?

      3. Spiritual growth – see previous comment regarding decibel level.

      Assuming these items are resolved to his satisfaction, yes, it would be permissible to seek reinforcement by posting this on your blog.

      Thank you for your commitment to [my] greatness,
      Uncle Jesse (humbly typed by his willing servant)

      1. Dear Uncle Jesse and his humble servant,

        I’m so pleased that you’re considering my suggestions. To clarify as requested:

        My plan for music is to begin with a moderate volume for the first bites, then drop to pianissimo as the serious chewing commences. The slow build will come as the meal progresses, finishing with a crescendo (but not too loud) as Uncle Jesse retires triumphantly. Think Rhapsody in Blue.

        Triangle lessons for the opposable thumb-challenged are entirely doable. If I can type with hands that shake like the housing of an outboard motor, anything is possible.

        Regarding Buddhist chants, anything above thirty decibels is improper, as it may encourage thoughts of self, or thoughts of inappropriate laughter, or thoughts of self laughing inappropriately.

        Eagerly anticipating the opportunity to help,


  2. I am glad you agreed to place Unc J in a 3′ x 3′ x 3′ cardboard box and ship him to my place. It’s more convenient to me. He is going to enjoy his stay on my balcony. The squirrels and rabbits may or may not mock him, so prepare him for that. “Walks” are not an option in my world — it’s “Trots” (of the paw kind, not the poop kind) while he accompanies my daily bike rides. If he behaves, I may give him a sip of my beer when the trot ride is completed. I hope he likes pork rinds, as well.

    1. I forgot to include the “bedtime story” portion of the guidebook – this should include only books reinforcing open-mindedness and/or universal healthcare, but with your book collection, I trust this will not be an issue.

  3. OMG.
    He’s a 4 legged, curly coated, canine…… you!
    And since he likes to hike in Maine, I guess I’m the chosen one.
    Please drop him off at your, I mean his… earliest convenience.
    I shall commence kibble sampling and pillow rearrangement forthwith.

      1. I have a bigger than average body, but I may have already watched over other people’s pets, so I’m not sure I have enough space left for 137 more rules.

  4. That photo of Uncle Jesse in the side mirror is the cutest thing I do believe I’ve seen in awhile. His fur (or hair?) is made for blowing in the breeze….

    So, I think he’d get along very well with Maggie…she’s also committed to “total wellness” and takes about a 20-hour nap every day in my sock drawer. She is high maintenance too, insisting on only using the finest scratching post around (our 1,000 dollar couch). She’s also really a dog (she eats string, yarn, threads, ropes…she once ate my necklace and yes…it came back out again fully intact…ahem…sorry for that visual)

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