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.
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.
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 …