Instructions for Dog Sitting Zeus

This is not a post about running. It should be pretty obvious that I fell off the running wagon months ago. But more on that some other time.

This weekend Daniel and I are headed for California to see one of his old friends get married at the Oakland zoo, but our dog Zeus can’t come with us (weeping eyes, weeping eyes). So, our dear (dearest) friend Julie will be staying at our place during that time taking care of the big boy. Since Julie doesn’t have experience with big dogs (her last dog was a weiner dog) and she doesn’t have health insurance (like me), I decided to put together some reading material to get her ready for her nine days with Zeus.

The Zeus (a.k.a. “the wonderdog”)

The first thing you need to know about Zeus is that he is a great dog! He is sweet and good natured. He doesn’t require a lot of strenuous attention, but he is very needy and will follow you around the house…even if just to pass out next to you. He gives kisses (sometimes lots of them and he aims for the lips). He doesn’t have any sense of “personal space” because we don’t respect his.

In the mornings he will come on to bed (well, sometimes he will come up and down the bed multiple times during the night) and wait for you to wake up. But he won’t wait forever. He will start with low whines, graduate to loud ones, then quickly turn to quiet growls until he’s just barking at the top of his lungs…but only if you haven’t woken up from the first whines. If he does bark, try to ignore it as much as you can. Move at your own space, don’t let a dog, as cute as he might be (and he is very cute), tell you when or how to move. But we do live in a building so try to avoid barking situations (see below).

If at any moment you feel handling this tiny doggie is just too much, just put on “Marley and Me” on HBO’s “On Demand.” It will remind you of two things: 1) Dogs can be very therapeutic, 2) There are worse dogs than Zeus. But watch out for the dog whining scenes…they get Zeus a bit nervous and he has been known to bark.

Kim’s phone: 347-xxx-xxxx

  • She doesn’t have school that week, so feel free to call her if you are running late, have an emergency with the dog or just want to set up a play date with Zeus’ best friend Hershey. (But she did get another dog, so she won’t be able to walk Zeus everyday).

Other emergency numbers:

  • Riverside Animal Clinic: (212) 923-1991?, 801 West 187th Street (take elevator walk to corner of 187th and Fort Washington Ave.)
  • Ambuvet, the Pet Ambulance: 1800-262-8838, I’ve never used this, but just in case Zeus can’t move (I would try Kim first…George has a car)


  • Come
  • Sit
  • Take (when he’s allowed to “take” his food, see “Food/Water” below)
  • Down
  • Wait
  • Stay
  • Up
  • Out
  • Shake (Left and Right)
  • No
  • No more (I use after I’m done giving him treats, playing with him or petting him — he acts as if he doesn’t get it, but I know he does)
  • Stop it
  • Greenie
  • Treat
  • Water
  • Leave it (as with many of these, not because he understands the words means he will actually do it — he is his own dog)
  • Hershey (Pitbull friend)
  • Where’s Daniel?
  • Kiss or Kissie (self explanatory)
  • Where’s the ball? or Get the ball

Around the House

  • Zeus is not allowed on either couch
  • He is allowed on the bed (sorry)
  • When you leave make sure the A/C is set to around 71 degrees. Unless it is cool outside and then you can just leave the living room windows open and the fan on. Don’t worry about electricity though. Safety first.
  • If you spend any extended amount of time on the sofa watching TV, he will bring a ball for you to throw. We usually throw it towards the kitchen and the front door. He brings it back, but insists you take it from his drooling jowels. Both Dan and I have been inadvertently injured during these play times. The dog doesn’t mean it, but the bites can sting.
  • If one day you are late, the first place you should check for accidents is the rug. It’s his go-to place.
  • Keep the toilet seat down ‘cause Zeus likes cold water.
  • Keep any fabrics or articles of clothing out of his reach. Though he doesn’t chew on socks and undies nearly as often as he used to, why risk it.
  • Try to brush him at least once during the stay (he expects a treat afterwards). If you want to brush him more, by all means. He looooves it.

Common (In House) Barking Situations

  • Waiting too long to take him out
  • One of his balls falls under a piece of furniture out of his reach…he barks so you can grab it for him
  • Responding to other dogs or loud children (not much you can do about this except saying “No!” and “Down!”)
  • If he is looking out one of the windows and people walk by, he will bark. So just get him down, say “No, No barking!” and wait for the excitement to pass.

Food and Water

  • Morning (8-930a) and Evenings (6-8p): 1cup of dry food each
  • Bring him (“come”) in front of his plates and sit him (“sit” “wait”). Serve him the cup of food and say “Take”. If he moves to take his food before you tell him, then ask him to sit again (if you want to, I guess).
  • Greenies: Daniel always gives him one before he goes to work around 1pm. If you’re not in the house you can give it to him early or even when you get home.
  • There are other treats in the closet that you can give him whenever you feel like it (or not). You might even walk with a couple for emergency situations. He (almost) always responds to “treat!”
  • He likes fridge-cold water. Sometimes he won’t drink water that’s been standing for a while. So never fill it up, ‘cause you’ll just have to through away the water and pour fresh one. But always make sure there is water in the bowl.
  • DO NOT: give him food or drink from your plate. If he’s begging say “No!” “Out!” and “Enough!” You might have to use all of them. After you say them, proceed to ignore. He will learn to ignore you when you sit down to eat.

Taking Zeus for a Walk

  • He pees in one of the two trees to the right or left of the building’s Bennett exit. (He will keep peeing in multiple places during his walk, but either one of those trees gets “The Big Piss.”)
  • He poops at any other tree around the block or near the entrance of the park (or inside the Dog Run).
  • Bring a bottle of water for him if you are taking him to the dog run.
  • If you are going in the morning, also bring his red ball. He won’t play with it, but if he steals another dog’s toy (and he only steals Mack’s blue toy) then you can trade.
    • Mack looks like (but older and grayer and he has one blue eye and one brown eye):
    • His toy looks like (in blue…with slobber and dirt, oh and it may be missing a leg):
  • He doesn’t play with this ball at the Dog Run (or any other ball for that matter, only Mack’s), but he will play with sticks. So just ask him to “jump” to get them from you, or throw it. He also likes to wrestle with Hershey. But a lot of times he just walks around the run, smells a few butts and comes to stand/sit by you.

Zeus Chases:

  • Pigeons (frequently)
  • Skunks (frequently)
  • Groundhogs (frequently)
  • Squirrels (often)
  • Running children (often)
  • Running adults (sometimes)
  • Unneuttered dogs (specially if they are big, so just watch out for big dogs)

Zeus Jumps On:

  • Flying Pigeons (frequently)
  • Random passers-by (on eye contact)
  • Random standers-by (sometimes, unless he recognizes them and then it’s almost a sure bet he will jump). Strangely, he has not really jumped on any kids. So you can let them pet him, but keep a close eye.

Zeus Lunges At:

  • Pigeons (frequently)
  • Skunks (frequently)
  • Groundhogs (frequently)
  • Other dogs (frequently)
  • Food on the ground (frequently)
  • Squirrels (often)

Two Dogs to Avoid (both unneutered):

  • The Great Dane  –  this one lives in one section of our building. This dog is very chill; the problem is Zeus. Just be careful, ‘cause if Zeus so much as smells him, he will lunge for him. Guaranteed. One way to avoid him in the mornings is to take Zeus out through Broadway. He usually gets a short walk in the evenings around 630p, so watch out for him as you leave the building and after Zeus pees and poops. Just take the Subway elevator up to Fort Tryon. He is never up there. If you do see him, loosen your grip on the leash so that if Zeus lunges, you can just let go of it. He won’t fight (he’s really a goose), and neither will the Great Dane. It’s more precaution for your hands.
    • Frequents: lower regions of Fort Tryon, the front of our building
    • Looks like:
  • Sam, the Russian Terrier – we haven’t seen this one in ages, but keep an eye for it. As opposed to the Great Dane, this one will step up if Zeus starts trouble (he might even start it himself).
    • Last seen: lower and mid regions of Fort Tryon and Dog Run, Inwood Hill Park
    • Looks like (but taller than Zeus):
    • Not to be confused with Portuguese water dogs which are somewhat common on the higher regions of the park. Portuguese water dogs are not as big as Zeus or the Russian Terrier and do not have fur covering their eyes. They are also friendly:
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One thought on “Instructions for Dog Sitting Zeus”

  1. Wow. What to say. Well, as someone who has dogsat Zeus on multiple occasions for multiple days, let me just say the instructions are dead on, and this passage particularly makes my skin crawl with memories:

    He will start with low whines, graduate to loud ones, then quickly turn to quiet growls until he’s just barking at the top of his lungs

    Good luck Julie!!!!!

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