Murphy started to show up at Cara’s back door one day and quickly wormed her way into Cara’s heart by being very cuddly and gobbling down mountains of canned food. After establishing that this kitty had no owner, Cara officially adopted her the day Murphy appeared with an enormous abscess on her back. Here she is recovering from the resulting surgery at my house while a porch enclosure is being built at Cara’s condo. Murphy is going to be an indoor-and-porch-only kitty once she returns to her new home.
Toby and Sally are two beautiful friends growing old together. Sally shows amazing spirit and grace living with arthritis in all four of her limbs while Toby is a happy-go-lucky fellow despite his kidney disorder. I enjoyed the wonderful companionship of these two gentle souls.
Looking like the angel he is (when he’s sleeping), this is Scotty with his favorite outdoor toy. He is a very smart Nova Scotia Duck Toller, and every minute that he’s awake he works diligently to train anyone around him into adhering to his personal schedule of eating, playing, and walking. He’s brilliant at scouting out smelly non-edibles and absolutely reliable when it comes to notifying the neighborhood of airplanes overhead. Scotty is the most personable and challenging guest I’ve ever had, thanks both to his strong personality and his numerous health issues, and after two and a half months of his engaging presence, the house felt a little empty when he went home. Scotty is incredibly fortunate to have the most devoted parents who appreciate his uniqueness and go to great lengths to keep up his fragile health.
The happy threesome of Samba, Foster and Mia is a pleasure to baby-sit. Foster, the Aussie, and Samba, the Boston Terrier, have a surplus of energy and delight in staging fierce mock fights. Mia is the adult of the pack, more cautious and contemplative, with a beautiful big-dog soul.
Vinnie is still a kitten at heart. He loves to chase flies and wait for you around some corner so he can bat your shin when you walk by. He has one issue: he can’t stand to be alone. He wants a person around at all times and if not a person, then at least a dog or two.
Here he is hanging out with my dog Jenny.
Tana is a 16-year old chow-terrier mix. She is a wise and kind lady who wears her Tinkle Trousers with dignity. Tana was rescued 15 years ago from a Montana shelter where the staff kept her from death row week after week because she was such a wonderful pup. Fortunately, Virginia found Tana before the grace periods ran out and Tana has been “the best dog” imaginable.
Blizzard is a big, huggable bear of a dog – a Komondor. He lived with Jenny and me for nearly two months while his Dad prepared their move across the country. I was so sad to see them leave, because Blizzard was one of the most personable and plain dear guests ever.
Snowy and his brother Ricky were my very first clients. I’ve always thought of them as the sweetest cats in the universe – friendly, tolerant and cuddly. It must be because they grew up with two young girls who loved and hugged them a lot. Snowy was the shyer of the two, but nowadays he treats my house as his and even sleeps with Jenny on my bed. Very sadly, his brother Ricky is no longer with him.
Rest In Peace
The saddest part of my work is the fact that eventually my elderly or sick clients will pass away – not unexpectedly, but always far too soon.
Koa was a bright light in his mom’s life. His big smile lit up the room – and he smiled a lot! He loved to dig, something he was not normally permitted to do, but my yard presented too much of a temptation. He agreed to help me dig up a new vegetable bed in a far corner where nobody would fall into the caverns he could excavate within a matter of minutes. This beautiful boy passed away far, far too young.
Otis, pictured here in his red sports car, is still very much present in his Mom’s life. They faced a few physical challenges as Otis aged, but his spirit remained steadfast and bright and he amazed and inspired me with the grace with which he coped. Otis loved to go out in his cart and greet the neighbors’ kids. When he became too weak to pull himself, Peggy placed him in a stroller and they continued to make the rounds with Otis relaxed and alert and clearly enjoying the smiles he put on people’s faces.
Emma, a beautiful English Springer Spaniel, was found wandering in the Arizona desert. When Barbara and Phil adopted her, they felt so blessed to have this gentle, sweet soul in their lives. My entire neighborhood, too, was delighted whenever Emma came to stay here. She was happy to meet everyone and expressed her delight by running around the house with her toy. I could not have asked for a more wonderful visitor and was grateful for every day she spent with us.
Aretha belonged to Mark who cared for her devotedly until she passed away last summer. She had lost the use of her back legs and her age had caught up with her in other ways, too. She was an unusually beautiful and gracious lady, welcoming anyone who approached her with a full-throated purr.
From the first moment I met Big Boy, I understood why his owner Chris loved him so dearly. He was the embodiment of the kind, forebearing, big-hearted dog. By the time I started pet-sitting him, his hind legs had been paralyzed for quite a while but he was in good spirits. Chris kept a mattress in front of the couch, covered with old towels, and when Big Boy was not taking exercise in his K9 cart, he oversaw the action in the main living area from his mattress and also kept an eye on Great Dane teenager Daisy. But he particularly loved to take his cart out to the second-story deck from where he could see into the neighbors’ yards.
Smudge was Virginia and Tana’s cat and enjoyed a long life with lots of love in it. She liked to fly around the kitchen in her Mom’s arms or ride on her shoulders, but also patrolled her territory outdoors. After successfully evading all the dangers that lurk for kitties in suburbia, she quietly passed away in her sleep at age 16.
Here is my own boy, Max:
Max suffered multiple disk ruptures at age 7. After surgery at the WSU Veterinary College, he recovered enough to walk again for a few years before he finally lost all feeling in his hind legs. So he, too, received a K9 Cart (with cross-country tires) and went everywhere in it as if nothing had changed. Max lived for hugs, food and especially swims which allowed him to shed the cart and be like all the other dogs in the water. He continued to swim up until the month he died at age 14. Caring for Max really opened my eyes to the plight of pet owners who need sitters for their handicapped charges. I am still grateful today to Susan Burdick of Peers With Fun Ears (in Factoria) who took such good care of my 75-pound baby when I was out of town, including expressing his bladder several times a day and transporting him to the park. Not an easy feat!