Pet Tips 'n' Tales

The Dog Walker's Dog

Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
Berta's Sheltie, Pete, loves her Pet Sitting business venture as evidenced above where he is seen helping Berta walk two friends of his, Rembrandt, an English Pointer, and Morgan, the- not-so-Standard Poodle.

Berta and her husband, Buzz, moved to Cottage Grove 18 years ago from California.  At the time, their daughter was living in Washington state and their son in California. While making the long drive up the I-5 corridor, Buzz spotted Middlefield's lush, green golf course alongside the freeway. Considering that they were retired, loved golf, and the golf course "just happened" to be located between their two children's homes, Berta and Buzz moved to Cottage Grove. After arriving, they happily discovered a second golf course near by.

"When our last dog died, Buzz announced 'No more dogs!'" said Berta.  "Three years later, Buzz learned that our neighbors had "FREE" puppies.  He went to look and arrived home with two things: his broken rule of 'No more dogs!' and a "free" Sheltie puppy. We named the puppy Pete."
Their "FREE" dog didn't remain so for long as Pete had an undescended testicle which required a "special" surgical neutering to prevent cancer.

When Pete was two years old Berta found a lump on his face, which was subsequently surgically removed. However, eight months later, a scan revealed an active tumor evident near one of his eyes, radiating down to his nose. She and Buzz soon learned that "If you can't afford a vet, you can't afford a pet."  Pete is doing well now.  The facial surgery left him with a scar running down his face that "pulls" his upper lip into a cute "Elvis impression".

"Our neighbor's dog, TJ, has watched us walk by with Pete for a few years now, but soon after Pete's surgery, he charged Pete. TJ's owner was appalled because this was so out of character for him. The only thing we could think of was that TJ thought Pete's "Elvis impression" was a snarl. Over the last year, Pete's lip has returned to a more normal position."

After arriving in Cottage Grove, Berta took a job with a pet sitting service and after the owner moved out of town, Berta and her sister, Pat, took over the business. Pete loves the business and welcomes new dog buddies who come to stay with him. However, Pete does have "food bowl" envy.  As in the fairy tale "The Three Bears" where each bear has his/her individually sized, bowl, Pete and his two "charges" have individually-sized bowls. Pete, a "quick" eater, has a small bowl; Morgan, a "grazer", uses a large bowl; and Rembrandt uses the largest bowl of all.  Pete gulps down his food, then waits for the bigger dogs to finish.  After all three of the dogs finish eating, they take turns licking out each others' empty bowls. Berta also takes the "herd" of clients out for an hour's walk every day.  "It's good for me and for the dogs," admits Berta.  "Pete really misses his buddies when it's time for them to go home."

Buzz passed away last year.  While he was in the hospital, a therapy dog visited and "prayed" for the patients.  "It was adorable! And since Pete picks up tricks fast," said Berta, "I taught him how to pray by getting down on my knees with Pete beside me and had him put his front paws on my forearm.  I held a treat for him and he put his head between his paws to get the treat.  Pete is so smart; he can count to five, play dead, and whisper, among other tricks.  When I say 'whisper', rather than barking, he just moves his jaws.  When asked to 'speak', he barks.  Told you.  Brilliant!"  laughs Berta.

"Buzz loved Pete," remembers Berta, "and when Buzz watched TV, Pete was often on his lap. So when Buzz went into the care center, I took Pete to visit him to give that 'at home' feeling."  With Buzz's passing, Pete has become my support, constant companion and walking partner."

"Ever since the day that Buzz passed," said Berta, "Pete has to be touching me when I'm in bed.  I am not sure if it is to reassure me that I am not alone or to reassure Pete that I am not going anywhere.  Pete never did this while Buzz was alive."

"After losing a loved one, it is difficult to adjust living on your own. The day Buzz brought home puppy Pete, neither of us knew what a great role Pete would play in my life.  Talk about the gift that keeps on giving!"  said Berta.


Every day, Berta brushes Pete's teeth to prevent tooth decay.  "You can buy pet toothbrushes or a finger brush," said Berta. "A finger brush is a plastic sleeve that fits over your finger. The brush is a -inch square area and is ridged. Pete loves the chicken and liver-flavored tooth paste so it is easy to care for his teeth.

Trish, a Pet Tips 'n' Tales reader in Sisters, Oregon uses Plaque Attack on her dog's teeth.

Pet Tips 'n' Tales reader Suk Ha in Hong Kong writes about her sister: "My sister, Tammy, used to be impatient. When she divorced, her dog saved her from the resulting grief because she found comfort in his company. As the dog aged it suffered from many illnesses. Tammy treated the dog with kindness and patience; it was beautiful to watch. The dog taught my sister compassion towards the elderly and now she helps them whenever she can.  Her dog "trained" her to be a kinder, gentler person. Pets are our friends, our family members and our mentors who offer assistance and teach us many things."
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