|Shelby in spring 2011|
Shelby, my family’s golden retriever, passed away a few weeks ago. Sure, being blind slowed her down a bit. Call us naïve, 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.