23 CommentsDogs, Dogsitting Adventures - Chapters, Memoir

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Dogs have always been part of my life; a love passed down from generation to generation. Protracted unemployment in the early 90s required some creativity. Thus, my pet care business was born.
This is a continuing series.

(Click HERE for more chapters)



Saba, a feisty Jack Russell Terrier, came into my life when she was only seven months old. The assignment: to walk her while “Mom” Isabel was away for the day. At the appointed hour, I pulled up to a modern stone mansion with a beautiful courtyard. This was a local version of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”! The housekeeper invited me in while she fetched the dog, so, I had time to enjoy the view. Fabulous marble flooring and paintings on the wall. Still, it all seemed a bit cold and austere. Saba was obviously a high strung little girl; panting and trembling on the end of her leash. Bending down to reassure her, I noticed her face was divided right down the middle, with brown on one side and white on the other. The eye patch gave her even more character!

We started out, but after a few minutes, Saba did a quick “about face” and tried to run home.

“Come on Saba. Don’t you want to go for a walk?”

She turned back to me and we managed a few more metres. This scene was repeated over and over, but finally, she did her business, much to my relief!

Time to head home and she tried to run all the way. No wonder her leg muscles were the size of Arnold Schwartzenegger’s!

The next few walks were more of the same, but eventually, Saba greeted me with enthusiasm and went willingly.

Isabel called one day to inquire if I’d be willing to take Saba home with me for a few days. She and her husband were going out of town and her kids were living elsewhere by then. Thus, Saba became a regular house guest for many years.

She marched right into my house as if she owned the place! When Tasha, our Dalmatian, went to sniff her, she growled menacingly. Tasha reacted in kind and it would have escalated had I not scooped Saba up and proceeded to the backyard. They were fine after that, until it was time to share space on the couch or the bed. Two alpha females jockeying for position! One major difference between them: Tasha was “all talk, no action”, while Saba would follow through and bite, if given the chance. Tasha did sustain a couple of nips over the years, (as did my husband and I, while trying to intervene), but, the two of them bonded, just like sisters.

tasha and saba

Over the years, Saba became even more nervous. Isabel and her family always wintered in Miami and apparently, the thunder storms there really affected the poor dog. It came to the point where she needed medication to calm her down on a regular basis. Every little noise caused panic and she became fearful of the camera as well. Didn’t like the flash. She was feisty as ever nonetheless and continued her “sisterly” arguments with Tasha. After Tasha passed away, we grew even closer to Saba, because of that connection.

She came to stay with us several times every year. Her last visit was in November 2012. Saba was 18 years old by then and had become hearing and vision impaired. She slept a lot and there was some occasional incontinence, but the main thing was her constant state of anxiety. Poor little thing! When Isabel came to get her, I had a hunch she wouldn’t be going to Miami this time.

It’s been seven months and no contact.

This is sad and disappointing. Isabel was a good client for almost 20 years. Perhaps it’s just too difficult for her to talk about; I don’t know. Whatever the case may be, we miss our little “step-daughter” .

Rest easy, Sabalina. We love you!


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© D.D.B. 2013

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Debbie D.

Canine Innkeeper in suburban Toronto, Canada, known as “The Doglady”. Writer/website owner, photographer, animal lover, music fanatic, inveterate traveller. History, literature and cinema buff. Eternal “hippie/rockchick”. Binational, German/Canadian and multilingual. Looking for the next adventure!

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  1. It’s always sad to lose a dog. You must have lost so many in your line of business and in your life……I find it hard to deal with and would rather do without a dog.

    1. It is heartbreaking, every single time. The last one, Tasha the Dalmatian was particularly so, which is why we currently have no dog of our own. It’s also sad with the clients, but a little easier to deal with, because they’re not with me full-time. I still cry, regardless.

  2. They never let you know she had passed Debbie? OMG, she was like part of the family.

    I would have been so upset and worried about Saba although like you said, she was 18 years old and lived a wonderful long and happy life. I know that’s all we can ask for but I would have thought that you of all people they would have wanted to know. Just sad! 🙁

    God I love dogs!!!


    1. No, I haven’t heard anything from them. 🙁 Very disappointing after an 18 years long relationship and especially since we were so attached to Saba. I pretty well knew her days were coming to an end when she was here last. I guess they assumed I would figure it out, but, IMO, it’s a matter of courtesy to call. Most clients do. Well, I can rest assured that Saba was always treated like family by us and she enjoyed her time here. Dogs are wonderful, aren’t they? ♥ Thanks for visiting Adrienne.

  3. Hello Debbie! Glad to connect with you…we seem to have similar interests in music and pets!! I owned a JRT too, named Rosco. He passed away from Lymphoma which hit quite suddenly. 🙁 He was a wonderful part of the family, and I keep his ashes safely.Thanks for sharing!! WIll be coming by!!

    1. Hi Michelle; JR’s are one of my favourite breeds. So intelligent! I’m sorry for your loss. That must have been devastating for you. 🙁 We have crossed paths before and do have similar interests. Thanks for visiting and have a great weekend. 🙂

    1. Hi Sandra; People do travel and can’t always take their dogs with them. Nothing wrong with that, IMO, as long as they find someone dedicated to take care of them during that time. I provide a warm and loving home environment, or as I call it, a “Happy Hound” vacation. 🙂 My clients’ dogs love it here and the owners can rest easy, knowing their dogs are in good hands. In Isabel’s case, she and her husband often travelled on business, plus their kids live in far flung places. Thanks for visiting, 🙂

  4. I’ve never had a Jack Russell, although I have had the privilege of hearing one sing. They are cute, though. Eighteen years is a very long time and I can understand how you became so attached; dogs are so wonderful, and so quick to accept our friendship. I miss my woofer, Spike. He’ll be 10 years old in October and he was my protector. Keep on with the stories–I can hardly wait until your book will come out.

    1. Hi Mary; Jack Russells are one of my favourite breeds. So smart and independent! (Not unlike Dalmatians.) Most of the dogs that come here are long termers and it would be impossible not to get attached. Must be hard to be separated from Spike. 🙁 Glad you’re enjoying the stories. I’ll let you know about the book 🙂 (Not this year – slow going!). Thanks for visiting.

  5. Great story Debbie.

    Isn’t funny how we bond with these animals? We had a stray dog in our neighborhood and he was always at the corner store. It made me sad because it looked like he was just waiting for whoever dropped him off.

    I took a liking to him and started feeding him. I would buy a couple pack of franks and a bottle of water. At least I knew he ate once.

    He finally found out where he lived and every night he’d come around. It’s been about three weeks now and we haven’t seen him. I’m hoping someone picked him up because he was such a cutie. We ended up calling him Rocky.

    I share in your sadness Debbie 🙂 Sounds like you really love Saba.

    1. That’s quite a story too, Corina. Hope you find out what happened to Rocky, because not knowing will always make you wonder and worry. Yes, Saba was very special to us, because of the bond she had with Tasha and also because she was part of our lives for so many years. It’s disappointing that Isabel didn’t get in touch after all this time. 🙁 Thanks for visiting. Glad you enjoyed the story. 🙂

    1. Hi Linda; I have a pretty good idea what happened, but I was really disappointed that Isabel didn’t get in touch. 🙁 We had such a long-standing association! Thanks for visiting.