20 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)

Author’s note:
This story has a sad ending and was difficult for me to write.
I struggled with it for many days but felt it should be included.


Max & Jake

These two were quite a pair! Max (on the left), came first. I met him when he was just over a year old; adorable, but still very much an adolescent. He was an “only child” at the time and enjoyed playing with, (more like body checking), the other dogs in residence.

Rough. rowdy, rambunctious; that was Max!

One day, there were too many dogs to walk all at once, so I split them into two shifts. Knowing Max would be upset if left behind, he was in the first group. This did not appease him one bit and when I returned with the second group, imagine my astonishment at finding tooth marks in the vertical blinds! Max had bitten right through them. Good thing we had some spare ones and Max eventually grew out of this destructive phase.

Geri, Max’s “mom” called one day with the unhappy news that Max had been diagnosed with hip dysplasia and would require surgery. He was only 18 months old at the time. She complained to the breeder about this and was told they would give her a new puppy if she brought Max back to them! (Imagine what horrible fate would have awaited him there!) No animal lover could possibly return a beloved pet, especially after more than a year. Geri went ahead with the surgery and Max started coming for sleepovers again, a few months later.

When Max was four, Geri told me she had rescued an older yellow Lab, to keep Max company. Jake was seven and had a calm demeanour. The hope was for this calmness to influence Max. Well, the exact opposite occurred. Max and Jake became the “Rowdy Boys”! When it came to other dogs, they would tag team them and we were constantly calling them off. There was no malicious intent, but they loved to play rough.

Max & Jake 350px

Jake was a real “food hound” as well and you couldn’t keep anything on the counters, because he would go for it. One day I left the house and forgot to remove the dog treat jar. Of course, I found it in pieces on the floor, along with a beautiful ceramic tray that was a gift. Jake must have tipped it over, in his quest for the goodies. I’m always honest with my clients and tell them if their dogs have misbehaved, but, never expect to be reimbursed for any losses. It’s just part of the job. To her credit, Geri bought me another tray; probably more expensive than the one that broke. This was a nice gesture and she was a great client, who also brought lovely Christmas presents.

Max and Jake were frequent guests for several years. Despite their rough and tumble activities I was extremely fond of them. Fortunately, nothing else got broken.

When Jake was 12, (Max was 9), they came for a visit about three weeks before Christmas. Jake had slowed down a bit, but, seemed fine, otherwise. Max was still his bouncy self. On their last night we had settled in, with the boys in their usual spots; Max on the bed and Jake in the living room.

When I got up the next morning, Jake was sleeping by the back door and Max was awake under the dining table, next to it. That seemed odd; also that Jake didn’t stir at all. I tried to rouse him and, much to my horror, discovered he was dead! You can imagine the array of intense emotions that churned through me. He was absolutely fine, the night before! My husband confirmed that Jake had indeed passed away overnight. I was thinking of poor Geri. The boys were supposed to go home shortly. With trembling voice and lump in throat, I made the call. Geri was beside herself and came over immediately, with her husband. We were all weeping, but Geri did say “good thing the kids didn’t have to see this”. (She had five and the poor things were waiting for their dogs to come home.) Yes, that would have been even more traumatic for young ones, but it haunted me too, for a long time. I can still picture him, lying there. They bundled Jake into a blanket and carried him to the car.

Geri called me a few days later to say that Jake had died of a heart attack. Dogs have all the same afflictions as humans. Thankfully, he went fast and didn’t suffer much,

Max became an “only child” once more and still came for frequent visits. There was a time when I didn’t hear from Geri for months. She suddenly called one day to relay the sad news that Max had a brain tumour and they needed to euthanize him. Apparently he had lost his vision, balance and cognitive ability and was whimpering and trembling.

Poor Max!

My heart broke once again.

R.I.P. Max and Jake

max and jake 3 350px

© D.D.B. 2013

Epilogue: There have been many heart breaking moments over the years,
but they are far surpassed by the heart warming ones. ♥

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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. I know. 🙁 It was hard for me to write about and relive this. I stopped writing the book shortly thereafter, but this A-Z is inspiring me to take it up again.

      1. I hope do continue. Even for a non-dog person like myself I find the stories interesting, humorous and heart-breaking. Please do consider taking it up again. Sure, you may be reliving some sad moments, but you’ll also be reliving (and sharing) many great inspiring, interesting and funny stories. These memoires certainly give me a taste of what it’s like to be a dog owner/carer.

        1. Thanks for the encouragement. I just get way too emotional when it comes to dogs and that wears heavily on me. I do plan on finishing the book. This A-Z has rekindled my enthusiasm. Tomorrow’s post for M really took a toll, as well. I need to toughen up a little. 🙂

  1. I was worried you would use the Lab for your “L” My Sades was Lab/Dalmatian and with all the dogs we have had, I miss her the most. I still tear up and it has been a year. There is something about the gentle, soft eyes and nature of the Lab that is like none other.

    This story was so sad. We have had a few pass in their sleep and it is somewhat of a relief that you don’t have to make the “decision” to help them in the end.

    1. I’ve had so many Lab clients, it was a natural topic for the letter “L”. My sympathies, Carol ♥ Writing about Max and Jake turned me into an emotional wreck and I stopped writing the book shortly thereafter (added one more chapter about Saba, the Jack Russell. That was a sad ending too.)

  2. Always sad endings Debbie, you know as soon as you give your heart that the day will come.. but later rather than sooner. Lovely story of two gorgeous dogs, my friend, many thanks for sharing, ‘cos I know it was hard to do..xx Pen xx

    1. So true, Pen. I was a blubbering mess at the end. 🙁 Difficult to relive, but, a story worth telling. Thanks for visiting and have a great week.

  3. Debbie, I love your dog stories, and I feel more and more inspired to follow in your footsteps with stories of my own. I know how you feel about finding Jake lying there dead. I had a similar story about a puppy I had raised from the age of 2 days old. She died in my arms at about months old after receiving a dosage of vaccine for gastroenteritis that was from a too virulent strain. I cried and cried for days–she was alive, and then…she wasn’t. Thank you for your story, Debbie. :3

    1. Glad you’re enjoying my dog memoirs, Mary. Sad story about the pup. That must have been equally traumatic for you. 🙁 Never easy when our beloved dogs pass away. Looking forward to your dog stories! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. 🙂

    1. Me too, Bren. I had a hard time writing it. 🙁 They sure were a couple of characters! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Have a good weekend.

  4. Wanted to let you know that I always read your dogsitting posts and do enjoy them. This one was very touching. Isn’t it sad taht our pets have lifespans so much shorter than humans do? But I’m glad Jake went quickly and didn’t suffer long. It doesn’t sound like Max was that lucky.

    1. Thanks for reading, Lorinda! I really do appreciate that. 🙂 Yes, Jake was fortunate that he passed away in his sleep. Poor Max though. 🙁 Have a good weekend.