Having been in business since 2004, many of the animals that I started caring for as puppies, kittens and young animals are now grey, slow and no longer see or hear very well. A large number of them have also passed away.

I was introduced to Alfred and Abby, a Cocker Spaniel and Black Lab, respectively, back in 2006. During the late part of 2013, we said good-bye to Alfred; just a few months later, we were suddenly forced to say good-bye to Abby.

Their mom, Misty Goldman, shared her story of Alfred’s life with her in Pet Tails Magazine. Below she describes her life with Abby.

As pet sitters we often come to love your animals almost as much as you do. In addition to a cat and a dog that share my bed at night, I feel I have dozens of other cats and dogs that are also mine — they just don’t live with me. Over the years I started to take pictures of all “my animals” and use them as my computer’s screen saver. The picture that accompanies Misty’s article is one I took during the very last set of visits I made to Abby last May. I never imagined it would be my last picture of her.


Fabulous Abby the Labby
2002 – 2014

By Misty Goldman


You took the sun with you when you left us.  It rained for days after we said good-bye and even when the rain stopped, the sky stayed a cold slate gray that reflected back the emptiness in our hearts.  It’s such a struggle to write these words, to acknowledge that you’re gone, to accept the void but I have to let you go.

You were such a beauty in your shiny black fur.  Attitude and stubbornness just like a teenager.  You had an angel’s face and a devils mind.  Your mischievous streak was legendary.  From digested checks, shoes and couches, nothing was safe from your jaws as your stealthy 90 lb body would tip-toe behind me.  On our first meeting you sent me home with only one shoe, a clear message that I was treading on your territory.  But I came back the next day and the next and the day after that.  You lost interest in my shoes and you became my shadow, my buddy, my clean-up crew.  Crumbs falling to the floor never had a chance.  A lover of vegetables and the nemesis of toilet paper, you probably thought Abby was your last name since it was frequently preceded by words that can’t be printed here.

Friends and dog people always offered the same advice; “…don’t worry, Labs calm down after about five years”.  Ha!  You were not a dog to be categorized!  I think you were seven years old when you stole the sandwich from that poor guy walking down the street in front of our house.  Nine or maybe 10 when you ran away to the school and got beat up by the neighborhood dog bullies.  And the toilet paper caper went on every chance you got for 12 years!  I’m so glad you defied the stereotypes.  I’m so thankful that you were Abby.

I can still see you there, rolling in the grass with pure joy on your face.  You would always stay just out of sight.  Always seeing me but making me look to find you.  That vision of our happy, loveable pup is all we have left of you now.  I look at that patch of grass everyday and it lifts my spirits.  It made you blissfully happy even when you were in pain.  Now your pain is gone and with it our hearts but the grass is still green so we sit there in your favorite spot, missing you but smiling.  I smile because I bet that you can still see me, even though I can’t see you.

You died just like you lived, on your terms.  It was Abby’s world and the sun and the moon and the stars would bend to your will.  And so would I…every time.  I miss you shadow.



Waldo — Home Alone

For the first time since adopting our cat 18 months ago, we needed to go out of town. We placed our two dogs in a crate-free kennel and flew away, leaving Waldo in the care of a pet sitter. I realized not long before we left that Waldo had not been left alone–with neither dogs nor people–for any longer than four hours since coming to us from the Virginia Beach SPCA.

My anthropomorphic tendencies went into overdrive. I feared he would think we had deserted him like his previous family had done and that he’d never see us again. I worried he wouldn’t eat or that he’d sit in the dining room window continuously crying, as he does when my husband takes the dogs out for their dinner time walk. (If I’m in another room and call to him, Waldo comes running and stays until they return.)

Despite being a cat with his typical high-level of independence–except at dinner time–I have applied to him not only human characteristics, but also those of a dog. We had lived with only dogs for so long, it just happened.  Thus, I presume a level of neediness akin to a dog rather than to a cat. (Although, we’ve never had a problem with the dogs wanting to drink out of the toilet, we do with this cat.)

Therefore, because Waldo sleeps in our bed at night, I wanted to have someone stay at the house to sleep with him, to lessen the trauma I just knew he would suffer by our being gone. I gratefully received my daily text messages from Judy, with her notes and pictures of Waldo doing his normal things. I was still concerned about him, but did feel better.

Once home, though, I learned Judy had needed to go hunting for Waldo in the middle of the night. He had retreated to his own bed in our closet and was sound asleep–all by himself.

I should have known better…


[This first appeared as the “Editor’s Notes” in the February/March 2012 issue of Pet Tails.]


My Feathered Friend, Oscar



When I enter the room to visit Oscar he immediately appears pleased, raising his crest and looking alert. He often reaches the front of his cage just as I arrive there and stretches his foot out through the bars to grab onto my extended finger. Once he’s perched on it, he then reaches with his other foot to grab onto my arm or wrist. He sits staring at me and unintelligibly (for the most part) answers my questions as we catch up on the time that has past since my previous visit. He clearly reminds me, though, that he’s a “pretty bird.” This greeting has lengthened over the last five years that I have cared for Oscar—a large white cockatoo.

Oscar is one of the first parrots I came to know. For many years we had parakeets in our home, but it has been the interaction with these large birds that has caused me to become fascinated with parrots. I am always happy when someone calls to ask me to care for one. Although these visits do tend to put a kink in my pet visit schedule—I linger a bit longer than I should with these feathered creatures.

I find them to be very intelligent and interactive. When I look into to their eyes as I talk, I believe they are paying attention to what I’m saying. I wonder if it is because of their ability to fly or because their physicality is so different than ours that makes them so interesting to watch and spend time with?

If we didn’t already have two dogs and a cat, I would pester my husband to allow me to have a parrot. And if I were I about 25 years younger; these birds require a lifetime of commitment. A cockatoo, such as Oscar, can live from 40 to 60 years (and the larger the bird, the longer they can live).

I suppose my visits to other people’s parrots will just have to get longer.