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.



Two is Better than One

At a stop sign where I sit everyday there is a house with a large front yard. It is home to a pair of young Labrador retrievers, one black and one brown. The first time I sat and watched them, they were each tugging on a rope. Being of equal size and strength, neither dominated their game of tug-of-war. On another occasion they were playing with a child’s large ball, running and pouncing, stealing it from one another. Most often I spy them simply rough housing, jumping on one another and benignly biting the other’s neck. One warm afternoon I was delighted to catch sight of them laying back-to-back, heads together with eight paws stretched out as they slept in the sun.

During the long Thanksgiving weekend, I cared for a pair of small dogs with an overflowing toy basket. On successive visits I found more and more of the toys strewn about the house. During one of my visits I watched Kyra pick up a stuffed ball and Lola chase after her down the hall. I was unconcerned between visits that the pair was either lonely or bored.


Kyra is ready to play!

We have almost always had two dogs. It is not that much more work to have multiple dogs and the benefits outweigh the additional costs. Being pack animals, dogs need other dogs in their lives to be happy. When a dog must be left alone for extended periods of time, a companion lessens the loneliness. Many years ago, when our golden retriever passed away at the age of twelve, the presence of our young lab helped ease the pain. On Thanksgiving Day, this once young lab also turned twelve. To celebrate, I took him and his younger brother on an extra long walk.

There are so many dogs in area shelters needing loving homes. There are also many in need of short-term, foster care. By being a foster home, you could also provide companionship to your single dog. The organization Dogs on Deployment ( helps our military folks find temporary care for their pets while they are away serving our country. They could use your help.

In this new year, I hope everyone considers adding a second dog to their pack of one.

Note: This first appeared as the “Editor’s Notes” in the December/January’13 issue of Pet Tails Magazine.


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.