30 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)


Sheeba, May 2001
Sheeba was one of my first-ever boarding clients and a unique dog in many ways. Part Bouvier and part Bearded Collie; with that famous “Bouvier Bite”, (extremely powerful). Watch out!

Her people, Sue and Sandy, travelled frequently, so Sheeba was a regular house guest, from the time she was 18 months old.

Quite a sight with that woolly coat; she was the quintessential “shaggy dog”. Grooming was an issue, because , as we soon found out ourselves, she didn’t take kindly to it. Had in fact, been banned by every parlour in the area!

This was a bit of a dilemma, so Sandy took it upon himself, but, sadly, he wasn’t very good at it. Poor Sheeba always looked a mess! Hubby and I both gave it a try and got bitten for our troubles. She had a sore spot, (we never figured out why or exactly where), on one of her back legs and if anyone touched that area, she didn’t hesitate to sink her teeth in. Ouch!

Sheeba was fine with the other house dogs, otherwise she would have been banned here, too. One notable exception was a Shepherd/Husky mix named Pearson, who came looking for trouble. She ended up on her back, with a nip to the leg! Thankfully, it was just superficial and Pearson recovered quickly, but, she never again attempted to disturb the “Grande Dame”!

Sheeba & Friends, Apr. 2006

Although Sheeba was mellow with her fellow guests, (Pearson excepted), it was a whole different story outside the home. If any strange dogs dared to come near her while she was walking on leash, they were subjected to ominous growling and gnashing of teeth. No fooling around!

One day, I was alone with her and headed for the back field of the school, near my house. A man was there, playing “fetch” with his dog, so we turned around and went the other way. Damned if he didn’t follow me, with his dog still loose! Steeling myself for the inevitable, I gripped the leash hard and called out to him.”Please hold your dog! This one doesn’t like to be approached.” With a puzzled look on his face, he did what I asked and came forward slowly. “She’s friendly and just wants to say hello. That’s why I followed you”, he said. “Idiot!” was my silent thought, but aloud I reiterated my previous comment and added, “this is why we changed direction.” It continually perplexes me how some people can be so reckless!

We had another frequent house guest named Sasha, who was a miniature replica of Sheeba. The two of them got along famously and people everywhere commented on the resemblance. Sheeba and her “Mini-me” made everyone smile.

Sheeba & Mini-me, Sasha, Sept. 2001

As Sheeba aged, her back end became quite rickety, and she needed a little boost to get up from the floor. Once upright, her motor skills were good enough to walk outside, do her business and come back in without falling. Appetite and sense of smell both remained strong and even though she was hard of hearing, somehow, the sounds of doggie dinner prep woke her up, every time.

She was a mid-sized dog and weighed about 50 lbs., so we were all amazed by how well she was doing at age 18. That’s over 100 in human years!

The inevitable did come, about 6 months after her last visit. Sandy phoned to tell me and, although it was a sad moment, we also marvelled at the fact that she had enjoyed such a long and healthy life. It seems to be true that mixed breeds fare better than purebreds in this respect.

She was such a large part of our lives for over 16 years!
Things just aren’t the same around here without her.

Sheeba. Jul. 2003

Miss you, Sheeba!

© 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. My current dog Debbie is like Sheeba in a lot of ways as far as not liking other dogs. She’s a Chihuahua and I adopted her when she was four. I’ve heard that Chihuahua’s are aggressive and protective of their owners but I think it was more then that. She was attacked by two dogs in her first foster home is what I was told.

    The funny thing is if you let her off her leash then she’ll do the prancing around and getting to know them thing without the attack. It’s usually the other way around but not with her.

    Now I did have a Cocker Spaniel named Blake and he was a pure bred and lived to be 19 years old. I took very good care of my boy and he was never sick up until the last several months but that was just old age and time for him to go.

    Thanks for sharing this story with us.


    1. Hi Adrienne; Many dogs feel threatened when they’re on leash, and that seems to be the case with your little one as well as with Sheeba, who was also fine when let loose. It was funny to watch her, because she tried to “herd” the others into a circle. 🙂 Blake sure did live a long life, no doubt due to your loving care. Thanks so much for reading my story. Have a nice evening. 🙂

  2. Great story, Debbie – I can relate to the grooming issue – had a beautiful long-haired cat who was complete nightmare to groom unless you got him in a very good mood. We’ve vowed never to have any more long-haired animals of any description!

    I’ve also had that “he just wants to say hello” experience when I’ve had dogs on lead and been trying to avoid other dogs running free ‘supervised’ (or not!) by thoughtless, oblivious owners – infuriating!

    Thanks for sharing Sheeba’s story – sounds like she was quite something!


    1. Thanks for reading Sheeba’s story, Sue. 🙂 Those thoughtless people just don’t get it and yes, it’s absolutely infuriating! Sheeba was probably the most unique dog I’ve met so far and I knew her most of her life. R.I.P. old girl ♥

  3. Nice story, it is amazing how with just some time with the dogs makes us to know them so well. Loved the picture with all of them! It looks like they knew they would be famous! 🙂

  4. I am guessing you are in America. Your image with all the dogs on leads in one that often springs to mind when I think of America – like UK red phone boxes and French onion seller on their bikes!

  5. What a lovely story, I couldn’t stop reading. Thanks so much for sharing your adventures…best wishes for your upcoming book.

  6. Even though my pets were always cats, I love dogs also and enjoy your stories about them, Debbie. I wish you luck with your upcoming book about it.

  7. Great story Debbie. I’m sure you’re glad you got to spend some time with her. She’s got that adorable face!

    I don’t know how you do it to keep from being so attached to the dogs. I bet it’s hard to say goodbye. One thing, do they recognize you when they go back? Just curious 🙂

    1. Hi Corina; I do get attached to them, especially when they come here for so many years. Losing them is almost as bad as losing my own. 🙁 Sheeba sure beat the odds and had a good, long life, though! The returning dogs are always very excited to stay with me. (New ones can sometimes be a little nervous at first, but they get over that very quickly.) My business card says “Leave your dogs with me for a “Happy Hound” vacation” and that’s what it is for them. Many people have told me that as soon as their cars hit the neighbourhood, their dogs start bouncing around in anticipation. Always nice to hear such comments! 😀

  8. What lovely memories you have! It is so sad when a dog passes away. They are just like people and a person grows so attached to them.


    1. You’re right Kathy; it is sad and just like losing a human friend, but, we sure had a lot of great years together and there are some wonderful memories. Thanks for visiting. 🙂

  9. HI Debbie, loved the read about Sheeba, wonderful memories to recall again and again… and once they’re gone we miss them like crazy… have a good day my friend.. xPenx

  10. Great to read about Sheeba!! 18 is a wonderfully long life–and it is great that you were able to watch her when her owners were away!! Thanks for sharing her with us!! Cheers, Jenn

  11. Ah yes. Anyone that says that dogs are all the same and act by instinct have never met a dog. They are some of the most interesting “people” that I have ever had the privilege of meeting. Thanks, Debbie