Technically Child 2 has a house-sitting job over the winter break.
Practically it's a two dog sitting job with the house as an optional extra. Child 2 is, one could say, slightly dog-centric on these things. Unfortunately there was a slight disconnect between the day the house-sitting job started (today) and the last day of school/final exams (tomorrow) so for this evening we're actually all dog sitting and the house is left to get up to god knows what all. It's probably throwing wild house parties all alone up there. (Don't waste pity on the Children - they've lived with me for years and are used to the dreadful jokes)
So this evening our house of four is stretched to fit in one mutt (street variety - the sort of dog coloured mid-ranged mutt that you see as local color in all the artsy photographs from around the world) and one terrier type (the sort that seems to have run into a wall at full speed, forcing its nose up and making up for it in the ear department).
I had planned a nice simple dinner for myself - olives, bread, nice bit of cheese... mmmmm... and while I'm totally capable of avoiding the reproachful stares of my Children (don't judge. I hand out just enough tiny morsels of Manchego to appear terribly beneficent while still hogging the lion's share) it was disconcerting to turn from my perusal of the latest copy of Advanced Photoshop (I said DON'T JUDGE. And Child 2 you can swallow that 'Geek' comment that was trickling out of your lips, thanks) and see two pairs of melting brown eyes earnestly fixed on my face... well except for the telltale flicker towards the hunk of cheese still on my plate.
The mutt is a pragmatist. She worked the eyes for about two minutes before deciding there were richer pastures to be found snuffling under the cupboards (I SWEPT thanks, dog) and looking appealingly at Child 2 for consolatory ear scratching. The terrier however was made of sterner stuff. He started with the melting eyes, head cocked to one side. Then he started to hold one pathetic paw up off the cold, hard kitchen floor, touching it down now and then just to see if the pain was too great to bear. When that didn't produce results he coughed gently and began a keen, far back in his throat and barely audible - just a mournful little dirge to the death of his last little hopes.
I'm not totally heartless, it did get to me of course. That's why I hollered for Child 2 to come and take the little fur ball on a walk.
In the cold, dark, windy night.
On the positive side, I think I've discovered which Dickensian characters I most admire.