Three weeks as an angel

Some weeks it seems longer, some weeks it feels like yesterday that I lost my ‘best girl’.  This roller coaster is one ride that I really wish would end. There are extreme ups and downs and it seems that I have taken a huge step backward, I think that is the reality of my new reality kicking in. That my girl is definitely not coming back. And when that kicks in, I feel paralyzed with emotion and fear. Shelby was so much better at adapting than me. She adapted to each of our cities just fine, her new homes with ease, new routines. Nothing seemed to phase that girl. She was always eager to go and have fun.

One of the things we greatly loved doing together was being outside. Oh how Shelby loved to smell the air, bask in the sunshine (more so the shade in her later years), sniff the grass. Our walks would take for forever because she had to scent mark everything. One friend of mine who walked her once with her rottie (who was always the alpha by peeing where Shelby would pee) commented to me that even her girl, Lola, stopped marking because she couldn’t keep up with Shelby. Shelby peed the way I would expect boy dogs to do. And the pooping – Shelby was famous for ‘faux’ pooping. She would go into position and act like she was pooping only to discover there was nothing there. But she would kick up her back legs like a bull and act all proud. I would have to ‘fake’ bend over to look like I was picking something up as to not have people think I was leaving her poop there but in reality – there was nothing to pick up. Silly girl.

A couple years ago, I discovered a dog friendly beach by our house. Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach in Los Angeles. Shelby and I used to go to the Oregon Coast when we lived up north and we missed our beach time. Shelby loved to have her feet in the sand. Not so much the water but that was fine. I didn’t want her out in the choppy waters. One weekend, I decided to go exploring this famous “dog beach” called Rosie’s beach in Long Beach, CA. It is a couple mile stretch of dog-friendly beach started and dedicated to Rosie who loved the beach. Rosie had long since passed but her legacy lives on with this beach. Dogs are friendly (for the most part) and so are the people. I packed up some stuff and out we went. It was a wonderful day.

Shelby took to the sand like any dog would – she ran and played and avoided the water. She didn’t want to get her paws wet. We spent about an hour down there. She buried her paws in the sand trying to cool off.  She made friends – both canine and human.

Shelby was also always a hungry girl – it would seem she would never tire of begging (sharking) for food. No matter what. I always told people not to feed her for many reasons but the main reason, she would never leave you alone. But that never stopped Shelby. She saw a nice little family with some little kids and a huge picnic (who brings a picnic to a dog beach? – seriously?!?). Anyways, Shelby walked around and basically assessed the situation and I could see the wheels turning in her mind. I kept pulling her away but at one point, she made a break for it. RIGHT to the blankets, nose first into a bag of chips. As the family started to yell and panic, and I tried to contain my laughter at Shelby’s boldness, I grabbed my girl and even though I took her hundreds of yards away from that blanket and family, Shelby would slink that way. I loved how she would think she was so sly – like I wouldn’t notice what she was up too!

And like any good mom, after we left the beach we stopped for treats. She picked out a beautiful blue cookie – one that was probably loaded with sugar and junk but it made her happy and therefore, made mommy happy.  As we drove the hour so back to LA on the dreaded 405, and I listened to her snore in the back seat, I couldn’t help but think what a perfect day it was. The album which I snagged these photos from are on my Facebook page  – entitled “Shelby’s “rough” Life”! – what a life it was.

My sweet girl – we had so much fun! You were my partner in crime. You were my best friend. You comforted me on days that I didn’t think I had the strength to be comforted. You made me smile every day. You gave me purpose. I miss you, my love. I miss you every day, every hour, every minute. And when I run by the beach, I look forward to the day that a walk/run on the beach brings me joy again. That is why I chose the beach for your final resting place. Everything I ever did in my life was for you. And while many say “Shelby was one lucky dog” – it was I who was the lucky one. I was the one who was blessed to be owned by you. Thank you, Shelby girl, for always keeping me on my toes. I miss you. I love you for forever. And, like I have always said, I will never, ever leave you.

On this photo in Facebook the caption is “I love this face”
Rounding out the day with a cookie!
Resting and she buried her paws in the cool sand
Running down the beach – It’s a dog’s life!
BFFs forever!

#TBT Shelby Style

In an effort to keep the spirit and tails of Shelby’s amazing life alive … a little “throwback Thursday” edition for her blog.

For anyone who knew little Miss Shelby, they knew she had a flare for style and more costumes and wardrobe changes than most dogs could ever hope for (well maybe not the itty bitty dogs but Shelby was hardly a purse dog). Shelby also loved to go – anywhere I was or other people were. Shelby brought a certain amount of positive energy to her surroundings (and usually comic relief). A little background on me – when I moved to LA a little over 7 years ago in an effort to meet people, I joined a running group that trained for marathons.

Shelby never ran more than 3 miles with me since I wasn’t a runner when I got her and her vets discouraged distance running since when I started running, Shelby was considered middle-aged and it would be hard on her joints. Shelby was always a sprinter when she would run. She was lightening fast. When I first got her, the first weekend I had her I almost lost her due to her speed. She didn’t know her name yet (she had arrived at the shelter nameless so I gave her the name) and calling for a dog that doesn’t know her name AND thinks it’s a game of ‘chase’ quickly almost LOST me my new dog. Thankfully, she did learn her name quickly but still was a high-flight risk up until she was about 7 or 8. Truly. Shelby was never one of those dogs until the last couple of years that would just go outside w/out a leash and stay within her designated area  (if she was not fenced in). She was faster than me – always. When I was finally able to trust her off her leash, it was only under my watch. And if she tempted fate by going to far OR not coming when I called, I learned that if I got down on the ground and acted hurt or scared, she would run to check on me and BOOM – leash city!

When Shelby and I lived in Seattle, we would go for a three mile loop around a local lake. Either Shelby didn’t understand the concept of running in your own personal lane OR she thought it was a game but she would run along side me, jump up and grab hold of my arm and try and hold on or nip at me. It got to the point where I felt like I was running with a canine barracuda attached to me and shaking her off or telling her “no” only seemed to make her MORE inclined to do it. Definitely comic relief for anyone else out along the route. Or perhaps she was trying to give me an upper body workout as well! My silly girl.

Back to the running club, after one year, I joined their board of trustees and Shelby assumed the role of club mascot. Shelby would show up at board meetings, support stations along the race course, picnics in the park… wherever there was place for her to be, she would go. And she was so loved. She wore the various shirts that I had to show her “LALEGGER” pride!

Shelby cheering the L.A.LEGGERS at the LA Marathon in 2009
Being a good sport at the board meeting
Supporting the water station for training runs
The medal from the race that qualified me for Boston


She was ALWAYS such a great sport with any costumes, medals, holiday attire that I would put on her. She was always my biggest supporter, my biggest fan and the reason that I would always lace up my shoes. So each day, now, that I lace up my shoes, I try and find comfort in running. I try and remember why I run. I run for Shelby. I run for those that cannot run anymore. I feel Shelby guiding me, pushing me, encouraging me to go a little bit faster, a little bit longer, a little bit more …

I missed re-qualifying for Boston last year when Shelby first got sick. At first I was so sad since I wanted so much to get back to Boston to take back that marathon that was marred by the events of the 2013 race. But looking back on it now, I am glad I didn’t re-qualify. I am glad that I didn’t have to make the choice to run the most prestigious race (after working so hard to re-qualify) vs. staying in Los Angeles with the “love of my life”. I would have stayed in LA but I am glad that I didn’t have to make that choice.

Right now, it’s hard to run more than 5 – 8 miles … my body tires. My legs fatigue. My heart is not in it. But I will get back to my passion. I will get it back. And I will always run with the spirit of Shelby within me.  I miss you baby girl… I hope you are running around, getting chased as you loved to be and showing those big dogs how it’s done!

Two weeks since Shelby earned her wings

Two weeks since I gave Shelby the greatest gift of all – peace and tranquility for all of eternity. While I know Shelby is running free, on all four legs, jumping up and down on the other dogs and having an amazing time playing and eating ALL that she wants (she was always such a hungry, hungry hippo, that girl) without gaining a pound, it doesn’t make it easier to be left behind.

She loved to sniff …. everything!

In the past two weeks, I have thought a lot about the final time Shelby and I spent together.  Like I have said,  always told Shelby I would never, ever leave her and yet I also always feared (out loud to her vets and internally in my heart) how would I really know. How would I be absolutely certain it was time? When it came to Shelby – I took my role as her mom so seriously – I was her strongest advocate and that was a lot of power. To have a voice for someone who couldn’t speak up. I was quick but thoughtful to rush her off to the ER vet for anything that seemed off. I felt comforted by the fact that the ER vet was 20 minutes from my house and that I had almost ALL her doctors on 24/7 speed dial. I didn’t spare any expense when it came to Shelby so in my heart, I knew that as long as I had “credit” we could and would keep fighting. So when I think back to our last 72 hours together, I believe that Shelby began her transition in a way that there would be NO second-guessing on my part since she knew I would keep ‘charging’ forward (literally and figuratively).

I used to tell people that my dog was SO friendly she would literally sell me out to the highest bidder. She loved EVERYONE upon meeting them – there was rarely a person she didn’t like (except for one old boyfriend and I took that as a sign and ended that quickly). Shelby also loved her mama deeply. She was loyal to the very end and would protect me in ways I didn’t think possible … until looking back on our last days together. I truly believe she was trying to warn me that day before to get her to the ER (where we went – 3 times before they kept her for observation) so she would have the violent grand mal seizure there and save me from seeing it. I believe she knew that she was tired and she was done fighting and that she had prepared me to move forward without her.

Unlike some others I have read about, Shelby wasn’t “Shelby” the last couple of days – she didn’t wag her tail , she didn’t look into my eyes, she did ‘nose’ my hand for more pets… she was comfortable and never in pain but she was telling me she was ready to go. There was no doubt in my mind; my girl couldn’t stand on her own, lift her own head, eat anything other than baby food (she never did stop eating). But the girl I knew was already gone. Shelby was just a shell and her spirit was guiding me to make the right decision by her.

While it has been a horrific couple of weeks, riddled with sadness, fear, silence … I have felt no regret. I did everything within my financial and God-given power to fight for her. Shelby knew I would fight till the bitter end for her and so she made it crystal clear to me that she wanted to earn her wings and to serve me from above. I go through waves of when I feel at peace for what I did for her  and then tremendous, paralyzing sadness… As much as I miss my girl every waking minute of every day, I do feel her strength and spirit comforting me. I feel her holding me up, supporting me and pushing me forward. I love having her come to me in my dreams.

Always my baby, always a mom!
Laughing … always laughing my girl!


What I wouldn’t give to hold her one last time,  snuggle those ears, kiss that face, hold those paws (she hated people touching her feet but she would let me hold her paws when we would watch TV or whatever). Shelby taught me more about strength than I will ever know. I read a quote somewhere – “you never know how strong you are until that is the only choice you have” – from the day her leg broke, I knew that I had to be strong for her. As I struggle with how to move forward without a major piece of my identity (I can’t even figure out how to sign my name on the Tripawds forums right now since I can’t bear to write Angel Shelby or Spirit Shelby since it’s all too true and painful), I will remember that no matter what, I will always be “Shelby’s Mom” (long before people knew my name, they would refer to me as that) so I will end this with how I feel.

Alison with her Shelby, fur-ever in her heart …

Flashback Friday to Easter with Shelby

Almost Easter weekend and while neither Shelby nor I were particularly religious, we did always take the opportunity (OK, maybe just her) to dress-up in some ‘festive’ attire.

The original Easter Bonnet at an event in New Orleans for “Hats and Hounds” to raise money for Shelter pets. My little southern belle…
Several years of photo shoots … Love this face!

I remember the past several Easter’s when I would set up her photo shoot in our front yard and the passing cars would stop and smile. Shelby brought such CHEER to so many people. I miss her so much. She was always such a good sport (even though she looks peeved in some photos). She would always get so excited when I would break out the box that had her various costumes and collars. It was like a new adventure. Either she didn’t realize she was going to be wearing them OR deep down, she loved the dress-up game.

My cleaning lady came this week and since I never see her, I had to leave her a note that said that Shelby had passed. I know that Shelby loved her (hell, Shelby loved anyone who came to visit her during the day) but that Maribella also loved Shelby very much. She was always so kind to Shelby the few times I saw her with Shelby. She left me this note:

From Maribella

She also opened all the blinds in my apt that I had shut last week in an effort to keep my apt. dark to help me sleep and help me grieve. It’s almost like she was trying to let the light back in to help me heal my heart.

I was off to a decent start this week – sad but not uncontrollable. I felt like I had things 100% under control and felt that I had done everything right by Shelby, including my grieving process. I truly wallowed in grief last week, barely leaving my house, eating things I never eat, not exercising and just laying in bed and crying my eyes out. I felt that it would help me start this week with a clean slate and while, obviously, I would still miss my girl desperately. My job has kept me on my toes this week – I’ve put in almost 9 1/2 – 10 hour days each day – why do I need to rush home? There is no one waiting for me. Until today. The grief of losing two of our other Tripawd friends this week and the upcoming weekend is too much. I started to cry on the way to work. I also noticed when I went to go for a run this a.m., my back was seized up and I couldn’t do it. My muscles are so tight. And it makes no sense; I have drastically cut ALL my cardio in 1/2 and then some. I can barely pick up my purse off the floor yet I spent months picking up at 22 – 24 pound dog! And it clicked – by immersing myself in work, refusing to think about what last week meant, not talking about Shelby at all (frankly, I think people are sick of me being sad so I am putting on a very ‘happy face’) I have pushed all my emotional stress into my body. Now I have physical as well as emotional pain. I am lost without our old routine. I am lost without my girl. She was my identity and I don’t know who I am without her. I feel as though I will never be whole again.

But I also felt Shelby’s strength this week. I felt her pushing me forward. I felt her keeping me tear-free and positive. I saw her in my dreams … twice. Two nights in a row, she came to me. And it was wonderful. And then I saw her banner on the Tripawds website when I logged in. My beautiful girl. Her beautiful face, her colors, her smile. Her joy in all perpetuity.

Tripawds Banner

So as I get ready to spend my 2nd weekend without the “love of my life” I feel hopeful that I will see her in my dreams, find some pennies along the way, and perhaps feel her push me forward a bit more . I still ‘hear’ her at night – I can hear her breathing. I know she is not there but I hear it. Knowing Shelby, she’s probably come back to haunt me in ghost form. Every day, I walk into my apt after work and I look to her bed, look to the bathroom before I realize she is not there.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about Shelby’s actual passing (I’ll save that for another blog) but there is more proof that Shelby was indeed the strong one in our relationship and while she is physically gone, I do believe she remains #shelbystrong

I miss you, baby girl. Always and forever. Until we see each other again, don’t be a stranger in my dreams… it is really the only time I am truly at peace and happy anymore …

Shelby’s been creating havoc over the Rainbow Bridge for a week

I can hardly believe it’s been a week since I sent the ‘love of my life’ over the Rainbow Bridge. While it doesn’t seem any easier, I have stopped crying (as much).  It was truly beneficial for me to have a week off of work to stay home and wallow in my grief. I could barely leave the house – what was the point? I didn’t have to ‘go outside’ since no one needed to go outside to go potty?

Saturday before I was heading out to yet another home-cooked meal (my friends have been amazing since they know I will literally stop eating unless food is in front of me), I got the call that Shelby’s ashes were ready and could they deliver them to me that night. But of course. I needed to have my baby BACK in my home. The presentation was beautiful and they made a little clay paw print of her paw and there was a single piece of fur … Shelby.  An instant peace warmed my heart. I held the box in my arms and cried and  cried and cried. I now talk to the box (several times a day), sit with it on the couch with me and tell it (her) good morning and good night.

Shelby is home

I made it through the weekend and found some old disposable cameras and took them to get developed on a pipe dream there would be photos of my girl. And there were. Shelby on the beach. Shelby in hats. Shelby, being Shelby. I don’t remember taking any of the photos or what we were doing at the time but they warmed my heart. We always had such a good time. I really think, though, that we came into our groove and our deep love once we moved to LA over 7 years ago. Not to say that Shelby wasn’t my love the first 7 years we were together but there is something about that tipping point … However, I do recall us driving to Los Angeles in the dead of winter and I put her in the hotel room to run out to get food since I didn’t want to leave her in the car since it was so cold. When I got back to the hotel, she was shaking and scared – scared that I would leave her. Which I promised her, again and again I would never do. I remember feeding her dinner on the bed since we were in an unfamiliar room and she didn’t want to eat. I remember her chewing bully sticks and stinking up my car ALL the way to LA. I remember arriving for our new life in LA and immediately having to board her so I could go out of town for a work trip and then when I finally brought her to our new home … the peace and comfort she felt with her toys, her smells, and her mama.

Oh Shelby … what a life we had. Your mama misses you so much. Your favorite toys were those awful ‘hooves’ with the filling. You broke a tooth on one of them and had to have dental surgery. No big deal. But your mama was a wreck the entire time you were under anesthesia. I remember them calling and asking if I wanted to do any extra teeth whitening or polishing for a more ‘sophisticated look’ – only in LA. They did your nails and on the bill it said “mani/pedi” – not “nails clipped”. We made friends at the local dog park (some more questionable than other). We lived in the Valley where neither of us understood the 105+ heat and the AC unit didn’t work fantastically so I would lock you in my bedroom to try and keep you as cool as possible.

Our apt in the Valley was bigger than the one we shared now. I remember day after day of coming home and finding poop in the bathtub. I couldn’t figure it out. I  applauded your creativity but it was upsetting. Finally, when you vomited in front of me, I got you to the vet and they said you had a parasite infection (thus the excessive pooping in the bathtub). You never wanted to mess in my apt. Before we moved to the beach, we would go on weekend hikes and you loved to ride in the car, loved the smell the dirt path, chased the gophers, absorbed nature. I couldn’t have asked for a better travel companion. We never ran together since I wasn’t a runner when I got you. We did maybe 2 – 3 miles from time to time but never the distance that I would do. You loved to run. You were a sprinter.

Before we moved to LA, do you remember, Shelby, that we would go to Cannon Beach, OR to get some true R&R since your mama worked such long hours? Look at how happy you were … you had an amazing dog’s life – even though I did work long hours and sometimes didn’t have the energy to play at night. But when it was our time, it was the most amazing time! ALWAYS. I miss you my sweet princess. Thank you for sending me a rhinestone yesterday. I look forward to the day when we can be together soon.

Shelby at Cannon Beach 2005?
Long before I could ever take your leash off and you wouldn’t sprint off …
Come to Mommy!!!



One week ago today

It seems surreal that one week ago, today, I brought Shelby to the ER (again) for vomiting in the a.m. and being “off”. Call it mother’s intuition, I knew something was wrong with my girl but had no clue it was so dire. Looking back on what happened, I truly believe it was Shelby trying to warn me that something was wrong so I would bring her to the vet where she would have a violent grand mal seizure (and I wouldn’t see it). That was what started our journey to the end.

In the week almost week since Shelby has been gone, I have gone through a slew of emotions. I have been blessed by a wonderful job that has allowed me to take the week off for bereavement. I have had wonderful friends that have stood by my side and remained constant in their communication either via FaceBook messages,  emails, calls, texts. It’s exhausting and it’s overwhelming. And as great as they are, they don’t all truly ‘get it’. Everyone says to me – take peace in knowing she isn’t in pain. Shelby wasn’t in pain (her vets assured me of that). She never suffered. She was tired. She was weak. She wasn’t 100% happy but she was in my arms and she was content. She wasn’t scared. She knew I was there for her.

Every time I close my eyes, I see the Shelby that I saw right before they carried her little shell of a body away from me. I don’t see the vibrant, energetic Shelby. I always see beauty though. In the end, as I fed her baby food, she would lick at the spoon and miss and get it all over her muzzle and she smelled a bit like baby chicken food. And I would wipe her face. And kiss her face. But she was still beautiful to me. As tired as she was and as quickly as this all happened, she was still my girl

Mornings are weird. I would always get up and check on her and now I will stay in bed for forever with no reason to get up. I ordered food for dinner last night and left the bowls on the floor -the wine glass full and next to it; no concern about anything getting into anything. I dropped part of a chocolate brownie on the floor and didn’t rush to pick it up. When I turn the corner into my kitchen, I no longer watch out for the water bowls. Yesterday, as usual, I would pour my bottle full of water into her bowl before filling it for me. I poured part of the water on the floor out of habit. The bowls are no longer there.

Her beds remain in the same locations. Her toy bin full, except for the few that I have taken to sleeping with. Every time I walk into the apt, I look first at the bed and then at the bathroom.

I sleep, a lot. My body hurts like I have run a marathon. My arms feel weird from NOT lifting Shelby (we used to call them biceps by Shelby). I am binge watching shows on Netflix. I don’t cry as much. This concerns me. I also don’t freely smile. I find myself just staring off into space. Like a zombie. I feel numb. I am going through the motions of living. Right now I am existing. I miss her and think about her every waking second.

My goal for this blog is to try and capture the good about Shelby … I want to remember all her stories. I have dealt with this kind of grief before (the loss of my father) and I know how my mind operates. I will try and block out all memories in an effort to heal but Shelby and I had great times. I thank you Tripawd world for the support, the love, and allowing me to indulge.

This is how I plan to remember my girl:

Our first spring break vacation to Santa Barbara in 2010
She loved the beach … always. 2010


Dog at a winery .. bliss! 2010
Girls day at the wineries! 2010


Shelby has crossed the Rainbow Bridge

April 8, 2014 will remain etched in my memory for all eternity. I knew it was the day I was going to say goodbye to my soul mate, my best friend, Shelby.

I went over the vet (ER) where I was prepared to battle to stay since they wouldn’t release her to me for safety reasons. But her favorite nurses were there and they put me in a room. The doctor on-call came to speak with me and I explained I had plans to transport Shelby that afternoon to the beach by my house to let her transition peacefully. She asked me if I wanted to spend the day with Shelby in the room so that was easy. They brought lots of beds in (for her and me). I had snacks with me (they did offer to order me food if I wanted it) and we made it a doggy-hospice. They brought me my girl, who was heavily sedated due to another a.m. seizure but assured me she was comfortable and in no pain and we could wait the day.

So on the floor I went. I layed on Shelby. I smothered her with my love and my embrace and I talked to her. At one point, I put my head down next to her, held her paw and read my book. Time stood still and yet it moved so quickly. Her oncologist came to check on her and say goodbye. We cried together. She told me she couldn’t have seen this coming (the brain bleed) – it is so incredibly rare for them to get it in the brain too and up until it was too late, Shelby had no symptoms of brain issues. A fighter until the very end!

At one point, Shelby’s breathing slowed so much and she was quiet and I freaked out – was I too late? But the nurse assured me that she was in such a deep and comfortable, safe sleep that her breathing slowed. We woke her up (she was pissed for sure) but I wanted to see her face. When I went to eat some baby carrots, she kind of cocked her head/ears in my direction (she was no longer able to lift her own head) so I grabbed her some baby food and she lapped it up. And water. My best friend showed up to sit with us and help me transport Shelby. There was no way she could travel without being held – there was no way she would ever come home; all day, I knew this in my mind but my heart wouldn’t believe it.

The kindness extended to me from ACC (advanced critical care) was like nothing else. I am forever grateful for them allowing us to spend our last day together. They could see our bond was like none other and that I would have done and had done everything for Shelby.

As we drove to the beach, I cradled my girl in my arms. My best friend carried her to a grassy spot in the shade and we set her down. Within seconds, her breathing calmed to a level I hadn’t seen in a long time. She could smell the fresh air, the ocean breeze, the grass… she was in her element. Our favorite thing was to just be outside … getting fresh air. Our LA life allowed us this luxury more often than not. We were there about 1/2 hour before the service that was going to help Shelby transition showed up. They were so kind. They told me how pretty she was. How sweet she was. But they could tell it was her time. They didn’t rush me but I didn’t want to belabor this. I took my girl into my arms and I whispered in her ear “see Shelby, mommy told you she would ALWAYS be there for you and I have made good on my promise”. I kissed her. I told her that I loved her. I told her I was proud of her. And I told her it was OK to go. It was over pretty quickly and I held her in my arms. I looked into her eyes the entire time. She was never alone.

Yesterday was one of the most painful days of my life. It would have been so easy for me to have just said goodbye over the weekend but I wanted to honor Shelby’s dignity. I didn’t want her (if could be avoided) to die in a sterile hospital room. I wanted her to be where she loved the most. And I wanted to be there with her. But it was definitely time. She declined so quickly, no longer able to walk, lift her head, open her eyes… there was nothing there. It was the absolute right decision but the hardest thing I have ever done. I am in shock. I am grief-stricken and while the rational part of me knows that this is part of the process and the incredible pain I feel now is testament to the love and bond that we had. She was and remains my soul mate.

My apt is empty. Yet it still smells like her. Her toys from yesterday, smell like her. My clothes from yesterday smell like her. I can still feel her here. Thank you to the Tripawds for allowing me to share her journey with you. Thank you for embracing us as a member of your family. It is your love and support that will help me heal until I see her again.

Like I have said, I have been a mom for 13 years. It feels weird not to have anywhere to be, anyone to feed or walk. I don’t know what to do with that kind of freedom. It scares me. What I wouldn’t give for one last kiss, one last snuggle, one last ‘selfie’. The hardest part is that my phone is FILLED with photos of my girl. My apt has tons of frames. Her basket of toys is staring at me. I need to explain to our housekeeper why Shelby is gone. There are people in our neighborhood who have seen us walking that will wonder and ask. But right now, I am going through the motions of existing. I am eating because I am told to. I am going where I need to go on a schedule. I can’t make any decisions for me right now.  I am a zombie.

So I leave this blog post with some photos of Shelby’s last hours … because while they aren’t the Shelby I want to remember, they are part of Shelby’s story. My hope that that I can continue to use this blog to remember the wonderful things about Shelby – to continue to always celebrate her life. Because Shelby would want happy memories. She hated tears. They made her uncomfortable. So for Shelby, I will try celebrate her amazing life. And amazing it was … She was so strong. I have spoken to her today but I am sure she’s super busy playing with all the other puppies (like she was known to do and ignore her mama) but she will send me a sign that she’s still with me.  So loved .. that girl. So loved.

Shelby Lynne – October 15 2000 to April 8, 2014. #shelbystrong 

snuggled up with her babies
Nappy time with my girl yesterday


One of my friends sent me this …
From the archives … from 2012. This is the real Shelby after a romp at the beach, with her paws in the sand. My beautiful, happy, loving girl. I will miss you angel but you will never leave my heart.



Shelby’s journey is ending

It is with a heavy heart that I even begin to type this blog post. My beautiful girl has fought a valiant fight but it is time for me to give her the greatest gift of all – peace.

It started Friday when she couldn’t put weight on her remaining hind leg. The ER shrugged it off as a tight muscle and I believe them; it did feel tight. I stayed home to keep an eye on her as I felt something wasn’t right. Later that day she started wheezing and backward sneezing. She wouldn’t settle herself so I brought her back to the ER. The leg was tight again but we got it moving. She got an ultra-sound and there was nothing wrong. But still, I felt in my gut, she’s not well. Saturday morning, I went to get her out of the bathroom, after hearing her try and move around all night and she yelped. I moved her out of the bathroom and she pooped on me. Standing. That was odd. I moved her to the bedding and she vomited. But then she was fine, tail wagging, eating happily. Then she yelped when I petted her again and I knew. Something was terribly wrong. I called the ER to let them know we were on our way. On our way out, she vomited.

She was sedate all the way to the vet which could either mean she was so used to going there or she wasn’t feeling well. They admitted her and within two hours, we got our answer; grand mal seizure. They started her on meds but she kept having little seizures. She was put on “seizure” watch and has bells around her neck. I went to sit with her and she ate for me. I felt progress; she was going to come out of this like she always has.

Within 12 hours, she was incredibly sedate due to meds and the seizures and she wasn’t well. I knew our time was limited. I had no idea how limited. They told me they suspect the cancer has moved to her brain and caused a brain bleed. Horrific.

By Sunday evening, I knew I would have to make the hardest decision any pet parent has to make and sooner rather than later. I was hopeful we could wait till the weekend but seeing her, I knew … she was ready. It was cruel to keep her in this condition. She is fighting for me and I can relieve her suffering. She is not in pain (they tell me). She doesn’t really know much of what’s going on. She still likes to sit outside in the sunshine. She can still pee (with assistance). She isn’t really eating much except baby food and I have to wipe her face like you would a stroke patient. I received the week off from work and spent most of Monday with her.

Today is Tuesday and I have plans to release Shelby’s spirit this afternoon on the beach, with the sand in her paws, holding her as I promised her I would do until her last breath.

My heart is broken in ways I never thought possible. I always said this would be the most epic shit-storm and I was not kidding. I have not stopped crying going on 4 days. I can no longer be strong or brave around my girl. When I sit with her, I tell her stories; I told her how we met. I told her about our first trip to the beach. I told her about our trips. And I told her about my daddy. And how he is waiting for her. And he will take her into his arms and he will hold her tight and he will love her unconditionally until we meet again.

Never did I think a dog would be my soul mate. I have been a mom for 13+ years; I have always put her needs first. To realize, I don’t have to rush home for any reason is daunting. I look at her empty beds, bowls, basket of toys and my heart aches.

I’ve been a caregiver for the past 10 months and it has been the hardest job but I do not regret one day we spent together. I have done everything physically possible for Shelby but I am not God; I cannot perform miracles. I am doing the right thing today. My hope is that my heart can meet up with my mind. 

Saturday … with my girl
God Bless a vet that has visiting hours that lets you sleep on the floor with the love of your life


“Jack Ears” … when she wouldn’t do these for me anymore, I just knew. She’s the bravest girl I know.

#TBT Shelby Edition~

Another edition of #ThrowbackThursday for Shelby’s blog. As mentioned, Shelby was born and raised in New Orleans. She’s a Cajun pooch at heart and each year, loved to celebrate Mardi Gras and the rich traditions that came with it. Throughout the Mardi Gras season, there are roughly two weeks of nightly (and day) parades, each getting bigger and better and flashier, leading up to “Fat Tuesday” – the all day party of parades with colorful beads, doublooms and other fun stuff.

Prior to Mardi Gras, is the Krewe of Barkus – dedicated to dogs (and proceeds benefited local area shelters). How could Shelby NOT participate?!? That year the theme was “Elvis”. I decided to make Shelby into a “Blue Suede Shoe”.

My little blue suede shoe

Shelby was a great sport as I pulled out the can(s) of blue hair spray paint and went to town trying to make her blue. It took several cans as her fur just seemed to absorb the colors but you can see in the above picture, she was blue. I didn’t spray her face since I didn’t want to get it in her eyes and wasn’t sure about the toxicity. My boyfriend at the time was my partner in crime and he helped hold her still. Shelby was still quite the puppy at the time and was hard to contain. I got her little booties and found all the blue beads that I  could in my collection. She hated the booties (as you can see, she was trying to rock the tripawd life even back then, trying to shake them off). We managed to get a few blocks into the parade route before she would shake them off.

My baby … you can really see how blue she is here

Never have I met a more patient dog…. she truly just wanted to be loved. We definitely saw lots of other ‘colorful’ dogs that afternoon but no other Blue Suede Shoes!

When we got home, it was promptly into the bathtub for her and I didn’t think we would EVER get the blue out. I kept washing and rinsing and the tub would fill with blue. I had a brief moment of panic when I thought for sure she was going to be blue for forever. My boyfriend, of course, found great humor in this. Eventually, we got most of the blue out and she was fresh and clean once again. I promised her I would never spray paint her again (and I have not) but dressing her up continued.

That was the only Krewe of Barkus that we participated in. I think the parade took a hiatus for a few years and Shelby and I moved out of New Orleans in 2004. But these memories (along with other Mardi Gras memories – when she ate an entire package of red vine and I came home to see her on the floor in a deep sugar coma, vomiting and pooping at the same time and I had to rush her to the ER vet, fighting street closures due to the parades and having her vomit all over the backseat of my car. She was obviously fine but had to have a saline injection put into her back so she looked like a camel to re-hydrate her. Oh and those red vines she snagged, on the kitchen counter – dog was always a jumper) will remain with us forever.

There are times when I wonder what kind of life she lived before she end up in the shelter. Oh how I wish she could talk and tell me about her Cajun lifestyle before the girl from Seattle adopted her way back when … I have to believe her life has only been enhanced, if not more colorful, by living with me. Between the feather boas, the beads, the tiaras; Shelby has embraced her embellished lifestyle … she really lives by the Mardi Gras motto – “Laissez les bon temps rouler” – Let the Good Times Roll!!! #TBT #shelbystrong


Three Months Post Amp

Wow, has it really been three months already? Shelby and I are now almost 10 months into our ‘new life’ since her broken leg, surgery to fix to that, spleen removal, definitive cancer diagnosis (however it was probably the true cause of the break back in June) to three months post-amp! Shelby, for the most part, acts like there is nothing wrong with her. She remains, as I always say, blissfully unaware of her cancer diagnosis.

We had a minor ‘technical’ set-back last week when we discovered through X-rays that her mets had increased in number and size. Enough that her oncologist wanted to start us on a new chemo regime that took 8 hours to administer. My first thought was,  do I have to sit in this cold office for 8 hours?!? I guess I was having sub-conscious flashbacks to when I would take my dad for his treatment and wait. Thankfully, they sent me away and it was good because it allowed me to have a pretty significant emotional outburst, run 7 angry miles and stay in bed all day and sulk about how unfair this all seemed. We are fighting SO hard but this bitch of a cancer is fighting back. I literally wanted to rip into her chest and pull those mets out – each one – and set them on fire. As if they had ‘feelings’. By the time I went to get Shelby that afternoon, I had, for the most part, soothed myself. I try, try and try to remember that she doesn’t know and most days, I wish I didn’t know either. It kind of put a damper on the start of our spring break together.

But the good thing is; she’s had NO side affects from this chemo. If I didn’t see the two shaved wrists from her IVs, I wouldn’t think she got anything other than a day at the vet with her buddies. She has also stopped her intermittent coughing. No nausea, no diarrhea, no loss of appetite. Tired but nothing out of the ordinary. I brought her down to the park Saturday to watch the birdies and she loved it. We’ve spent at least an hour outside each day, getting some sunshine, even though it’s hardly “warm” by Los Angeles standards.

I made her liver snacks Sunday since she is still so anemic and I am trying to fight that too through her diet and the pills they have given us. Not since my father’s illness have I endured the smell of liver cooking. Disgusting! Shelby, of course, was beside herself. At one point, I left the house and went back in to make sure I had blown out the candle I was burning and she was sharking around the kitchen for the liver treats in the oven. She loves them. She only gets two tiny bites a day but they are quickly becoming part of her routine and she expects them. I also made for her in crockpot a cancer fighting turkey/sweet potato/spinach and apple dish.  She WOLFS her meals now. She’s standing firm for almost 2 months at 23.2 pounds – her fighting weight. I am happy she isn’t gaining OR losing weight. To me, that means we are still in somewhat control of this beast.

I took her today for her blood work to check her blood levels after the chemo and they were great so in two weeks, we’ll go back and do another round of this chemo. This might be her 10th treatment. It seems like a lot both physically and financially but it has to be helping her and I have to give her every chance I can to fight. We are keeping up with our mushroom therapy as well.

Spring break, for me, wraps up tonight … I am back at work tomorrow and Friday. It’s been bittersweet – my first kind of ‘stay-cation’. I have done nothing but workout, nap, eat and workout some more. I felt guilty that I didn’t do anything or go anywhere with Shelby but I really wasn’t comfortable leaving town with her. I like to be close to her vets (just in case). And I think Shelby is just happy to have me at home. She does sleep ALL day. Except if I bring her outside for fresh air. I tell myself that she’s resting and healing. As far as my sleeping up to 12 hours  a day, I attribute my extreme exhaustion to the emotional roller coaster I have been on for months now. When I am sleeping, I literally dream about sleeping. My body and my brain clearly needed this rest. And there is nothing like listening to her snore to soothe me.

She is still up more at night – not on her bed and sits behind my couch on the floor. She is also awake. She will snuggle if I want her to. When it is time for bed, she tends to seem unclear as to what to do – she goes in and out of the bathroom, might start there but always ends up either in her bed by my bed or in her bed by the heater. This is our new normal and we have embraced it. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I do know that today, Shelby is happy, she is safe and she is loved. And she is spoiled!!! It really is a dog’s life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How we spent our spring break … paws crossed!
Dinner is served!
Her new stance – she stands much wider – almost looks like she’s ready to rumble! #badass
the love of my life … each day, I love her more than the day before.