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Shelby’s journey from four paws to three!

Shelby Lynne was born in New Orleans, LA sometime around October 15, 2000. Shelby was adopted by her mama from the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter in winter 2001. Found on the street, she had no name, no history, no background but she was fixed, house-trained and had lots of love to give!

From day one, Shelby was a spit-fire. It quickly became clear how Shelby ended up at the shelter since she was prone to escaping. Shelby was never one for crates or confinement of any kind – she was (and still is) an extremely strong-willed little dog. Shelby is part Jack Russell Terrier and part Shiba Inu. Shelby has never really been a barker but she’s 100% curious about everything around her. Shelby’s main goal in life is to love and to be loved. She would sell her mama out in a heartbeat.

Shelby’s kind and loving heart quickly qualified her to be a member of the Visiting Pet Program where she would visit hospitals and spread her cheer. She was a delight and brought lots of joy to all who met her.

In 2004, mom and Shelby relocated back to Seattle, WA. It was there that Shelby really found her voice, her spirit. She became the ‘apt’ dog and everyone knew her BUT no one knew me. It was there that Shelby had her first snow, learned that it was necessary to learn to pee in the rain and went on many hikes, runs, adventures with mom. In winter 2007, mom packed up the bags and relocated to Los Angeles. Shelby was in heaven. A place by the beach?!? What more could a dog want? Shelby and mom became even more inseparable (if that was even possible) and Shelby became known to all as the “love of my life”. My best friend.

We quickly realized we could take mini road trips to wineries, the beach, Palm Springs – all places that were extremely dog friendly. Shelby became my best travel buddy. There was almost no place Shelby wouldn’t/couldn’t go. Weekend adventures, happy hours, hikes … you name it, Shelby and I did it. But she was starting to slow down; a sad reality of the aging process. Yet as a 10+ year old dog, she still had a lot of puppy in her eyes and spirit.

June 2013 – the worst day of our life together. After a normal visit to the Farmer’s Market, Shelby went to jump in my car; something she had done a million times. She missed. She landed on her back left leg and made a sound no parent ever wants to hear. It was and remains the first time she has ever nipped at me. She was petrified and I quickly had to assume the alpha role and calm her down. What happened next will haunt me for the rest of my life. I rushed her to her vet and they said that the leg was broken. They told me they could fix it come Monday and they would keep Shelby comfortable over the weekend. It broke my heart to leave my injured baby behind.

Monday morning – the bad news the fracture was worse than previously thought and we would need a specialist. They found us one. I picked Shelby up and brought her to the specialist along with her Xrays. The specialist proclaimed – in the middle of the waiting room while I was holding my dog – that the break was due to cancer, the leg would have to come off and this dog was going to die. I have never felt as punched in the gut as I did at that moment. I demanded a second opinion which confirmed the same results – pathologic fracture. As I felt my life flash before my eyes as I contemplated my options, I found a strength I didn’t know I had . I had to be strong for Shelby. I took Shelby to another vet – mainly for a 3rd opinion and this place was highly recommended. Also, since I didn’t care for the specialist and his ‘diagnostic delivery’ method, I wasn’t going to let him cut apart my dog if I could avoid it.

Of course, we got the same diagnosis again and as I prepared on a Sunday night to have my dog’s leg amputated, we got a call. Perhaps there was no evidence of cancer (due to at least 3 biopsies). Perhaps there was a chance to save the leg with a plate and a few pins. Knowing that they could get a better biopsy while the surgery was going on was peace of mind. I chose to save the leg. Shelby came home with flying colors. She was a new dog and I felt a huge weight off my chest.

Shelby continued to recover well. Biopsies on her spleen (for masses seen there) and bone came back inconclusive for cancer. I truly believed we dodged a bullet. Shelby went back for her 6 week check-up and she was still limping more than she should. I chalked it up to older dog stuff. The masses on her leg hadn’t gone away but I didn’t expect them to. Her surgeon said we would continue to have to watch it.

September came – one week before I was to run my 11th marathon. Out of the blue, Shelby got really shakey and upset. I rushed her to the ER vet and they said her spleen looked enlarged. We had just had a great weekend w/friends – there was no reason for this. The next day, her same friendly surgeon said the spleen needed to come out. So she had her 2nd major surgery and did well. They sent the spleen off. She stayed at the vet for almost a week while I left town (at the urging of her vet since I almost bailed). I brought my girl home and we waited for the results. At this point, Shelby is the queen of her vet. They ALL love her and all pulling so hard for her so I know the call the vet had to make to me to tell me that Shelby had hemangiosarcoma was one of the hardest calls she had to make. I was devastated. The prognosis is not good – even with chemo but we elected to treat with chemo. We were hopeful that the chemo would help the leg (the limping was the same but some days worse than others). Her vets encouraged me to take off her leg and I didn’t want to. I thought she needed to build muscle back in it. I just wanted to make it through the holidays with my girl. I treated her like a China doll. She did great on the chemo. She was just getting ready for her 6th and final chemo when she did something to that leg.

We had no choice. We did X-rays and found that 50% of the bone mass was gone since her X-rays in June. Whatever it was was eating away at her leg. The humane choice was to remove her leg. She was in pain. My baby who has never showed me pain was suffering. January 8th – almost 7 months to the date – Shelby underwent her 3rd major surgery; not without complications; the dog was/is anemic, there were more masses found on her lungs, she was tired. BUT she pulled through like the champ that she is! Her new tagline is #shelbystrong and #dogisafighter –

Shelby’s recovery from this round of surgery has been her hardest to date. She had a horrible reaction to all the pain meds; they made her crazy and psychotic. We had to put her on Trazadone for anxiety. She will just stand from time to time and stare off into space. She won’t sleep near me anymore.

But from the first day, she has walked well (lots of practice hopping around for the past several months), she has done all her outside business normal. She eats like a champ!!! It took about 12 days to really see that sparkle in her eyes back; that spirit that everyone knows is Shelby. She still shakes from time to time; acts a little off or scared. But she will 100% snuggle, give ‘loves’ and let me pet her and kiss her as much as I want.

She has also taken up residence in my tiny bathroom. People have said that she’s denning or nesting. That it is her safe zone. To me, for a dog that has always hated to be confined, it is so out of character for her. But she camps out in there – day in and day out. It’s to the point that she will no longer move if I need to be in there.

Today, January 21st, 2014 – Shelby will get her stitches out, she will get her last round of chemo and we will start out maintenance dose of chemo for life. Shelby was given 3 -6 months – with chemo – from September. I am still optimistic she will make it to March and beyond. We still don’t have a definitive diagnosis on what caused that leg to break (they are doing another biopsy on it). Shelby continues to fight and for that reason, I fight for her. She wants to live. I can see it in her eyes. Everything I do and have done, I do for her.

My goal through all of this was for Shelby to know how much she is loved; every single day of her life. She is the first dog I have had as an adult (I grew up with dogs). She has been there through my 20s, my 30s and soon, my 40s. She has been there through broken hearts, happy times, sad times. She is sometimes the main reason I get up in the morning. She has given me purpose. I didn’t realize how much she has helped me live, love and grow and I am not ready to say goodbye to her yet but when that time comes, I do know that Shelby will always be in my heart and she will always protect me and she will join my dad in heaven and together, they will snuggle, play and that she will be safe. #shelbystrong #dogisafighter


  1. benny55 Said,

    January 22, 2014@ 12:29 am      Reply

    Oh Alison, you have me in tears.

    I am so touched, not only by the loving bond and deep friendship you two have, but to see in one chronological posting what SHELBYSTRONG and MOMMASTRONG have been through!

    You alreadyknow statistics don’t mean much around here, so you can jusr shove all that crap aside! Shelby jas already shown she’s nobody’s statistic! She’s doing things her way and her way is working just fine!

    She has…and is…certainly loving a life full of love, joy, snuggles and lots and lots of adventure!

    Dogisafighter is livingher life tomthe fullest and most certainly living n the “now”! The lessns she came here to teach you are magnificent. You have clearly grown at a sould deep level by having Shelbymin her life.

    And make no mistake avout it, she knows what beng loved feels like thanks to you.

    This is a lovely and articulate account of an ongoing journey of love, devotion and courage. Thank you so much for taking the tome to share g withis.

  2. benny55 Said,

    January 22, 2014@ 12:32 am      Reply

    Oops…hit submit…..

    Just want to add we are cheering for you. I mean it, we really are! SHELBY STROG…that DOGISAFIGHTER,!!

    Lots of love and extra snuggles to you!

    Sally and Happy Hannah

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