Monday, November 28, 2011

For Shelby

Shelby in spring 2011
Why does the lifespan of man’s best friend last only a fraction of man’s lifetime? It seems cruel that a best friend is meant to walk by your side for only a short while.

Shelby, my family’s golden retriever, passed away a few weeks ago. Sure, being blind slowed her down a bit. Call us na├»ve, but somehow we thought she might live forever. When Shelby was sick one morning, my parents took her to the vet and were told it might just be a bug. “Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning, Shelbs,” the vet seemed to say. When Shelby’s condition worsened the next day, they took her back. Further tests revealed she had a tumor growing on her heart. She grew weaker and her heartbeat gradually slowed. The vet told us she wasn’t in pain. In fact, it was an awfully peaceful way to go.

As I’m sure many, if not all, of you can attest, the loss of a pet leaves a gaping hole in your life. Coming home to an empty house. Taking walks by yourself. Not having a TV-watching buddy. And because my parents were accustomed to taking such good care of Shelby’s medical needs, there was no longer a reason to run home to give her eye drops or medicine. 

Shelby circa spring 2003
If dogs had eulogies, which they do on dog blogs, Shelby's would go like this: When you consider the 6-8 million homeless animals that have their lives cut short each year, you have to appreciate what a wonderful life Shelby lived. A family with two kids purchased Shelby from a breeder when she was a puppy. When the parents got divorced, Shelby didn't fit into their plans. She found her way into our home, her forever home, via an ad in the “Absolutely Free” classifieds column. (Kids, that’s the old-time version of Craigslist.) She lived to the ripe old age of 12 years with a family that loved her to pieces—even though she wasn’t allowed on the furniture. She really couldn’t have asked for more. We couldn’t have asked for more.

Shelby was a good listener and confidant.  She made us laugh and relieved our stress. She taught us more about ourselves, about life, and about adversity. While it seems unfair that she, like her canine counterparts, was only destined to be with us for a short while, the message is abundantly clear:

In our time, we’re meant to welcome many dogs into our hearts. We’re meant to live and learn from them. We’re meant to cross paths and take their pawprints with us wherever we go. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Foster cat Franky and Missy. My mom says it would be animal cruelty to separate these two lovebirds.

ADOPTED: So long, Sophie!

Missy and Sophie
Sophie wasn't an easy post-foster-failure dog. She was well-behaved, friendly, cute, and the perfect dog. She made it hard not to fail again. Truth be told, if she had come along first, we probably would have adopted her. (Don't tell Missy this!) But there's no room in this inn and thankfully a super nice couple adopted Sophie on Saturday.

Missy and Sophie and all the other dogs that came before them are testaments to the absolutely wonderful dogs that crowd shelters in the U.S. My blood boils when someone tells me they have chosen to buy a dog instead of adopt one because they "don't want to deal with a shelter dog's issues." Many dogs—like Missy and Sophie—end up in shelters not because they have issues but because their people have issues. Both Missy and Sophie's original families moved away and decided not to take the dogs with them. Look into those brown eyes and tell me these girls don't deserve a second chance. I dare you!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

More Tricks Than Treats

Missy dressed up as a bee for Halloween and greeted trick or treaters at our door. She has such a great temperament that she didn't blink an eye when young trick or treaters shrieked in her face. She also didn't care when the ridiculous parents of said children screamed (in all seriousness), "Don't pet that dog! She might bite!" However, Missy did find it funny that I replied, "She won't bite. She'll just sting you."

Now would you believe me if I told you that this is not Missy? In fact, it's our new foster dog, Sophie! We couldn't resist taking her in. She's a really sweet dog—more cocker spaniel like than Missy and about 10 pounds lighter. The two of them are just so cute together. Both are easy-going girls who just love being around people.

Okay, now how about if I told you this was Missy and Sophie's long lost foster sister? Well, you'd have to believe me. It's Karina (now Winnie)! Her adopters bought her the same bee costume and sent me this picture! Doesn't she looked thrilled?