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My Dog Riggins Is a Full Partner in My Dog-Sitting Business

I should call my business Wendy & Son Dog Sitting, because Riggins takes care of our pups as much as I do.

Wendy Newell  |  Sep 3rd 2015


The other day, I was driving home and passed a plumbing truck. The name on the side made me do a double take. We’ve all seen the typical “Bob & Sons” business signs, but this one added “(& Son’s Son)” after that. It took me longer than I want to admit to figure out that the sign meant that there were three generations of plumbers in the company. I was pretty darn impressed. In this day and age, it’s refreshing to have a business truly run and operated by many generations of a family. I found myself wondering if there was pushback from any of the “sons.” At some point, did someone have to be sat down by an elder and told that his dream to become an astronaut couldn’t be followed because the family business depended on him?

That’s when it hit me: I HAVE A FAMILY BUSINESS! Wendy & Son Dog Sitting. It just so happens that my son has four legs, a tail, and a luscious coat of black fur!

The best business partner a gal could ever ask for, Riggins. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

The best business partner a gal could ever ask for, Riggins. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Much like the plumber’s son (and grandson), my dog, Riggins, did not choose his occupation. His parent choose it for him. As soon as I became a dog sitter, Riggins’ professional future was chiseled in stone. He was to become a dog sitter’s assistant, and I never even asked if that was okay with him.

To be honest, I didn’t ask because I’m pretty sure the answer would have been, “No way, Mom!” I started a home dog-sitting business after leaving a high-stress sales job. I needed a time-out from corporate life but still had to pay rent. Taking care of and hanging out with man’s best friend seemed like the perfect solution!

Riggins (far right) is put in charge of the pack while I take the dogs away one by one for photos. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins (far right) is put in charge of the pack while I take the dogs away one by one for photos. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

I also believed that the future family business would be good for Riggins. He was always good around other dogs and played well at the dog park, but there was no denying the fact that he had “only-child syndrome,” and he had it bad. He wasn’t great at sharing his humans, specifically me. I walked around at the dog park instead of sitting down to keep his protectiveness from causing problems. If I sat down, Riggins would be right next to me, fending off any other dog who dared to come say hello. He was also spoiled rotten. I’ll take all the credit for that. My bad. I figured some forced sharing skills would do the kid some good.

"You sure about this dog sitting thing Mom?” (Photo by Wendy Newell)

“You sure about this dog sitting thing, Mom?” (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins was not on board in the beginning. Our first house guest arrived at the same time as the guests for a tea party I was hosting for my girlfriends and a few of their pups. Riggins happily moved from person to person to get love and even played with his four-legged friends. When it came time to say goodbye to everyone, he couldn’t quite wrap his doggie mind around the fact that a giant Boxer wasn’t going away but instead seemed to have settled in to stay a while.

Riggins leads our guests on the trails. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins leads our guests on the trails. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins leads our guests on the trails. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins leads more guests on the trails. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

It’s been two-and-a-half years since that first guest, and Riggins has long since given up his own career dreams and gotten on board with the family business. I assume he figures that if he has to be here, he might as well be helpful. And thank goodness he is here. He is such a valuable member of our two-creature company that I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Riggins hard at work on one of our daily adventures. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins hard at work on one of our daily adventures. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

What does Riggins do? What doesn’t he do is more like it. Here are his many job titles:

Hike monitor – On our daily hiking adventures, Riggins can be found leading the way or at the back of the pack, hustling the stragglers along. I’ve often said he could lead our hikes without me at this point.

Greeter – When someone comes in the back door (our front door has stacked doggie gates installed and is therefore no longer usable as an entrance, at least not easily usable), Riggins is right there to greet the human and, if need be, help get the dog guest in. Recently one of our regulars was starting to wander off as her dad and I chatted. Riggins was right there to circle around her and get her safely in the door.

Car buddy – Riggins is great in the car. He jumps in, goes to his spot behind the passenger seat, and patiently waits to be buckled in. He leads by example and, if need be, will cuddle up next to a guest pup to help calm her during the car ride.

Referee – When play gets too rough or out of control, Riggins is right there to shut it down. If his warning barks don’t work, then he will hump the offending dog until calm is restored to the pack.

Non-human supervisor – I try to take time in the evening to go to human-only exercise. When I do this, Riggins is in charge during my absence. Recently I came home and found that one of my regular guests had a deep scratch on the top of her head. I thought I knew who to blame, but it became obvious when Riggins, who at the time was put in charge of another area of the house and couldn’t get to the hurt dog but could see what was happening beyond the doggie gates, came storming into the room. Riggins walked right past his hurt friend to the dog who was being bad and put the smackdown on him!

Riggins runs up to put the smack down on two guests that need to be told it’s time to hike not wrestle. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins runs up to put the smackdown on two guests who need to be told it’s time to hike and not wrestle. (Photo by Wendy Newell)

Riggins may have wanted to become an astronaut or ride on a fire truck or even become a plumber’s assistant, but it turns out his skill set is perfect for the career I choose for him. Mom always does know best. I am lucky to have him work for our family business and thrilled that I get to spend my days with him at my side!

What about your dog? Does your dream career for him match up to what you think he’d choose for himself? Tell us in the comments!

Read more by Wendy Newell:

About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.