Meister vs. Sweet Cheeks, with Lawyers

The Denver Post's William Porter tells a tale of a housesitting nightmare. In its current phase, the owners of the house are distraught that their bird, Sweet Cheeks, was hunted and devoured by their dog, Meister, while they were out of town.

The housesitter, for her part, says that a faulty bird cage, held fast with a mere twist tie, led to the liberation of Sweet Cheeks.

In any case, the landlords -- Kiki and Peggy Vandeweghe -- are not willing to pay for his brand of housesitting, and it's going to small claims court. The housesitter, Jenny, is upset. And now, a ziploc full of Sweet Cheeks' meager remains has become something of a bitter conversational showpiece.

Porter writes:

"It was horrible," Jenny told me. "The cage was broken beforehand and the door was fastened with a twist-tie, and the bird somehow undid the tie."

The conure enjoyed its brief freedom. Then the dog decided it was supper time.

"Meister bolted out of the room," Jenny said. "I went in and there were little feathers all over the place."

... Jenny said Peggy asked her to put the bird's remains in a plastic bag. She managed to find half a beak, a foot and some feathers.

Crime scenes are never pretty. Neither is the fallout.

The Vandeweghes have refused to pay the young women for their housesitting.

The sisters say they're owed about $700, which is the $50-a-day fee they had earned up until the fur flew. So it's off to small-claims court.

Awful as they feel for the bird, the twins just want their wages. Their dad died three years ago. Money is tight.

"Jenny didn't eat the bird," her mom said. "The dog did."

I didn't speak with the dog. I assumed he was lawyered up.

The Eskolas met once with the Vandeweghes. They recall a moment where Peggy tossed the bag holding the bird's remains across a table at Jenny.

"Kiki was trying to calm Peggy but just wasn't getting anywhere," Jenny said. "She's pretty high-strung."