Last Friday we had to say "Good-Bye" to the sweetest dog that I could ever hope to own. Shelby was a part of our lives for 13 years. She was a part of everything that we did. She traveled with us on our vacations. She was part of every milestone that we celebrated. It has been a very difficult 4 days trying to get used to the fact that she is no longer here. I never realized how much one little dog could fill up a house. I didn't realize how quiet the house would seem when she was gone. I didn't know how lonely I would feel when she wasn't there to follow me to bed each night. I took for granted how nice it was to have her meet me at the door with her happy face. I have been thinking about all of the happy times and I wanted to write about it in this blog so that I never will forget...
Shelby was born on April 22, 1996. She was one of a litter of 6 puppies. A friend of mine from work was trying to go into the Sheltie breeding business. My friend soon found out that she got too attached to the puppies to be in that business. Still, she couldn't keep all six, so I asked if I could buy one from her. She said yes, and I bought Shelby from her for $50.00. Shelby was kind of a gift to Chris, who I was dating at the time.
I was working the night that I got Shelby. My friend brought her and her 3 remaining brothers and sisters to work, for me to choose from. I as actually kind of interested in one of the other puppies, but Shelby choose me. She came up to me and wouldn't leave until I picked her up. She hooked me in at that moment with her sweet smiling face and her soft gentle eyes.
As soon as Shelby moved into Chris's apartment she made herself at home. She was a very easy puppy. She didn't cause too much damage. Her biggest faults were that she liked to chew on the edges of carpet, which later turned into throw rugs when she was afraid of thunder, and she had a small stuffed bear that she chewed the face off of. Pretty good, considering some to the damage that I hear other dogs cause.
When Chris and I got engaged, Shelby was there. When we moved to Buffalo and bought our first house, Shelby was there. When we had our first baby, Shelby welcomed him into the family and watched over him like he was her own puppy.
Shelby was a great dog to photograph. All we ever had to do was set up the shot, back up, and say "puppy treats?" Shelby would look straight at the camera, perk up her ears and cock her head a little to the side. It was a perfect shot every time.
We were always coming up with different crazy ideas for dressing Shelby up for holidays and special occasions. One Halloween she was a tacky tourist, another year she was a pumpkin, and the best was the year that she was dressed as a Fireman and CJ was dressed as a Dalmatian. Shelby liked her costume a lot more that CJ did that year. He was only 16 months old and not really into Halloween yet.
It wasn't just Halloween costumes that she wore either. Every year for Christmas she wore Santa Hats and Reindeer Antlers. She never complained or got mad at us for it. She always just sat there with a look on her face as if to say "do you really have to do this to me?" And, yes of course we did. She was so cute and she put up with it so well, that who could resist dressing her up and getting that perfect Holiday shot.
As Shelby got older she began to have a few health problems. The biggest of which was lympho-sarcoma. She was diagnosed with cancer in April of 2004. At the time we had the choice of putting her down within two weeks or treating her with chemotherapy. We choose the chemotherapy. After 5 chemo treatments and a very tough summer, the vet told us that Shelby was in remission. At that time we were hoping to have another 2 years with her. To our surprise and joy Shelby stayed in remission for 4 plus years. Actually, even at the time that she died, she never had any signs or symptoms of cancer. This is nothing short of a miracle.
The condition that finally took our sweet friend from us was degenerative myelopathy, a degenerative condition of the spinal cord. We tried to work through the condition, but in the end Shelby let us know that she was ready to go. She was paralyzed from the center of her spine back and could not walk. Our wonderful active dog could not go outside to chase birds or run to the fence to bark at the neighbors dogs anymore. After two weeks of living this way Shelby told us it was time for her to go. She stopped eating and just laid calmly on the floor all day long.
Making the decision to have Shelby put to sleep was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. We knew it was the right thing to do, but it did not make it easier to do. I know that she is happy now and can finally run and bark like she did when she was young. I just wish she was still running and barking in our backyard.
Shelby was the sweetest most trust worthy dog I have ever known. It will be hard to find another dog like her. We will always miss her. We will always remember all of the great things about her and we will always be grateful that we got to have her as part of our lives for 13 years.
Good-bye sweet girl, I will never forget you!