I woke up at 5:30 this morning, and as is my (bad) habit, browsed social media and gave Gidget some pets before getting us both out of bed.
One of the first posts I saw – I think it was THE first, actually – was from my pet sitting company. A husband and wife team have had a pet sitting company here for well over 20 years, and I’ve used them for over a decade. It was just them, no random staff, and they have a fierce and loyal following. Granted, I don’t travel all that much these days, but when I did, all I had to do was text the husband, “I’m going out of town for [insert dates], can you take care of my critters?” and his cheery text would arrive, “Sure can. Key under the mat?”
And that’s all it took to arrange for a trusted sitter that Murphy and Sophie loved the minute they met him. I remember that first meeting over a decade ago, when he sat on the kitchen floor and had both dogs in his lap while we chatted, they came to sit on his lap and they looked at him with adoration, and they did NOT take to strangers that fast EVER. That company was our go-to pet sitters ever since, they had the Bossy Dog Seal of Approval.
I rarely saw him, he’d text when he picked up the key, and send me updates about how my (senior and special needs) crew was faring, and leave the key when they were done, and email an invoice. That was pretty much the extent of our relationship for the last decade or so.
He would take beautiful pictures of his clients and share them on Facebook. A few years ago he shared gorgeous portraits of Ellie, who actually came out of hiding when he was there. (I found one and added it below.)
He also did a dramatic b/w portrait of Sophie looking somber for a Memorial Day post, but I can’t find it. His wife took care of my pets and my daughter’s when we went on the cruise last month. My daughter was about to book them for another trip in a couple of weeks.
His wife posted to their company page this morning. He “lost his battle with depression” yesterday. I am still trying to take it in, and I can’t imagine the pain his wife is in right now. They’d been married over 30 years.
I’m feeling the same sort of gut punch I felt after we lost Robin Williams and Anthony Bourdain. I was a client, not a personal friend, and I had no clue that this man was anything but how he presented himself, a cheerful, hardworking guy who loved what he did and the animals he cared for, always positive and there for everybody. And that’s the awful part – you never know what kind of pain people are hiding behind their professional face.
A reminder to just be kind, always, because you honestly never know what others are dealing with.
Sorry to break my blog silence with such a downer, but it was a shit day.