Digger spent the second half of his life in Zurich, living in an apartment. Renting a house in one of the most expensive cities in the world was out of the question. At a time when it was difficult even to find apartments, and before I knew my way around Zurich, I was helped by friend and co-worker Daniel, who scoured the newspaper for me and found what turned out to be the ideal apartment on the first try. It was only 4 km from work, in a quiet, green area next to the Glatt river along which the dogs could roam freely, located at the end of a cul-de-sac away from through-traffic, and on the top floor of the building, with a large terrace.
For the first half year after the move, I came home from work every day at lunch time to take the dogs out. Barking and howling while I was away at work was a problem - until I ordered an anti-bark shocker collar for Shiva from the U.S. Digger mostly barked when Shiva barked.
It was a strain,
taking care of the dogs by myself, walking them in the morning before
leaving for work, coming back at lunchtime to walk them and snap down
something to eat, walking them when I came back from work, and then
again before going to bed. In the Fall, a lucky break occurred. I overheard
Daniel's girlfriend Melanie complaining about the family she worked
for as an au pair. Like countless other au pairs, she was required
to work long hours for very little money, and was expected to do various
chores on top of looking after the children. I couldn't afford to pay
even as much as she was earning, but then, all I needed was for somebody
to walk the dogs at lunchtime. So I made her an offer: become a dog
au pair for room and board plus 400 Swiss francs per month, walk the
dogs twice per day - at lunch time and either in the morning or evening
- and otherwise work in her free time as a babysitter to make up the
difference in the money. She accepted the offer and became the first
in a long line of au pairs.