Jazz, a species of lizard I can’t recall, and crickets

Dog and lizard sitting for a friend didn't end up so well

A conversation the other night with a friend’s wife prompted me to share a story about the travails of watching other people’s pets.

She suggested it may work for a column and because I was feeling the dreaded deadline squeeze, here you go, with a shake of a stick, a wag of the tail and a chirp-out to Janice.

While I was in journalism school, former housemates Brian and Donna asked if I could watch their dog for a week.

She was a two-year-old, well-behaved, sweet as syrup Sheltie named Jazz, so I didn’t hesitate until they showed up with some kind of lizard in a cage they assured me would be no trouble at all; just drop some kale and a couple of crickets into the cage and change the water every day.

I was as lonely as a single journalism student can be so Jazz, along with the lizard, was a friendly addition to the bachelor suite I called home between classes.

I got up an hour earlier each day and took Jazz to the park, where she repeatedly retrieved a ball with bottomless energy and enthusiasm until it was time to drag my ragged ass to class.

Another session of ball followed at the end of each day, leaving my arm throbbing from thumb to shoulder until the next session.

Brian picked up the pets late one evening, and I fell into a deep, relaxed slumber, secure in the knowledge I could sleep in an hour longer the next morning.

Unfortunately, Brian phoned an hour after I went to bed to say that the foot-long lizard, of which approximately nine inches was tail, was neither in the cage nor the van when he got home, and Donna was as concerned as any doting reptile-loving wife could be.

The next few days involved fruitless searches followed by occasional sightings, but no luck capturing the little rascal until I was getting dressed one morning and found the critter asleep on my jeans.

After heart-stopping moments that left me feeling like a carny wrestling an alligator, I finally got him by the tail and into a box I had set aside for that purpose.

I insisted that Brian pick him up that evening and went to bed exhausted, but peacefully relieved to be alone again. Or so I thought, right up until a couple of crickets started chirping in the closet.

I spent at least an hour every night for a week hunting them by flashlight, a task made even more taxing because of the cricket-coloured shag carpeting.

Eventually, after too many nights of angry camping, I starved them out or they made a run for the great outdoors.

Either way, I can guarantee you that I will never sign up for lizardsitting again, no matter how desperate my best friends may be.

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Rick Stiebel is a Sooke resident.