Spinning for Shelby

For the past 5 years, I have participated in the Annual YAS-A-THON fundraiser spin-a-thon for cures for cancer.  I have always done this event in memory of my father who lost his battle to cancer in 1997. All monies raised go to support new cancer therapies and cures through clinical trials and other outlets. It is always an incredibly moving and powerful afternoon.

This year, fresh off the loss of my beloved Shelby to hemangiosarcoma, I made it my personal mission to raise awareness (and funds) to benefit ALL cancer therapies. I am 100% convinced it is modern medical advances in chemotherapies that allowed me the extra 7 months I had with Shelby so this year, I dedicated my three-hour ride to Shelby (and of course my father too). With both their names etched on my arms, I vowed to spin with every ounce of my being.

The entire week leading up to the event was incredibly emotional for me. I knew that my legs would/could handle the endurance of it, I wasn’t sure my heart was strong enough. I have always prided myself on being able to “hold it together” when push comes to shove. But from about Tuesday of last week, I had been in a non-stop tears. Just looking at photos of my beautiful girl rendered me a sobbing mess. Grief is so funny. I felt that it was the first week in April again when I had lost Shelby and had no control over my tears. I longed for a sign from Shelby to tell me/show me that she was OK.

As I headed to the gym yesterday, I put Shelby’s yellow Tripawds bandanna on my arm so that she could ‘ride’ with me. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I prayed for strength.  As I clipped myself into the bike, I felt motivated, confident and strong. I could do this. I would do this.

I was wearing a #tripawds tank top and I noticed the photographer kept trying to get shots of the shirt and Shelby’s scarf on my arm. It made pedal stronger, harder,  faster.

About 1/2 way into the ride, Kelly Clarkson’s song “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” came on. A woman who was riding in front of me turned around and said this is YOUR song. And it was true. I always said to Shelby during our journey, when I found strength  I didn’t know I had, what didn’t kill me was only going to make me stronger. I started to tear up. I felt that lump in the throat. I prayed the sweat running down my neck would make the tears but sadly, the red eyes gave me away. A man on a bike near me gave me a gentle smile and wink, as if to say, it’s going to be OK. I felt the oxygen leaving my lungs (I am a runner, a spinner, a cardio-queen yet I felt that I couldn’t get air into my lungs) but I was absolutely NOT getting off that bike, nor was I going to give up. I looked at my arm and remembered why I was there and I pushed through. Shelby guided me through. She was there with me, on my arm, in my heart, in my soul.

At the end of the event, after three grueling hours on a spin bike, I was soaked through, the bottoms of my feet hurt, I had blisters on my hands from gripping the bike and I felt that I had been hit by a bus. But I will vow to do it again and again until we wipe cancer off the face of the earth.

Tomorrow marks 11 weeks since Shelby left this planet. Almost three months. The pain is just as fresh as it was back in April. I miss her so terribly much. But I am a survivor. I survived this year’s event. And I survive each day I get up. I am #shelbystrong and I know she is with me all the time. She was definitely with me yesterday. Shelby was speedy. She loved to sprint. She loved to climb.  She loved to be part of a community. And yesterday was about all those things. And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words… these are for you my best girl.



































For Shelby
For Shelby















For Daddy
For Daddy















For "Happy Hannah"
For “Happy Hannah”









4.8.14 -  Shelby Lynne R.
4.8.14 – Shelby Lynne R.










She rides with me!
She rides with me!













Shelby in a bikini #flashbackfriday

I wish so much I could remember when I first thought to dress Shelby up. As everyone knows, Shelby was rescued from the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter in New Orleans. I found about the shelter from a local pet store that would host monthly “Yappy Hours” for dogs and their owners. Often they included costume contests and themes. One month they did “summer” and “beachwear”. Well how could I not dress Shelby up in a bikini?

I went to the Goodwill and found a kid’s bikini (pink of course) and figured it was about Shelby’s size. It fit perfectly. But it was missing ‘assets’ to fill it out. Balloons! Brilliant.

A couple hours before the party I put Shelby in the bikini to try it on, I realized I had to cut a hole for her tail. She took to wearing the bikini pretty easily but then I noticed she walking really funny. Kind of like she had something in her pants. And sure enough, she had POOPED in her bikini! Hours before she needed to walk the runway, her outfit was soiled. I quickly removed the bottoms and cleaned them up but they were still a bit damp.

We got to the party on time and we did our walk and voila, because I had chosen to give her ample double d’s, she won first place! That’s my girl.

1st Prize
















Oh Shelby… what a patient dog you really were. Oh how I miss you my sweet angel. We had SO much fun. We had such a great life together. You were a holy terror at first but I don’t remember ever having many regrets after the first weekend with you. You were lap size, arms size, snuggle size. You fit PERFECTLY from day one into my arms. You were always so relaxed in my embrace.

This weekend I will do my 5th Annual YAS-A-THON charity spin ride raising funds to cure cancer. I’ve always dedicated my ride to my father who passed in 1997 but this year, I’ll ride for you, Shelby, as well. Cancer has taken two of the most important beings in my life from me. It’s just so unfair. I am angry. I am heartbroken. I have been in tears since Tuesday. I pray that you send me the strength I need on Sunday for the three hour ride and that I can push the emotions away for just a little bit.

The ironic thing about grief is that it creeps up on you when you least expect it and it can rip your inner core and send all your healing back to the beginning. And the walls that you put up to deal with past griefs come pummeling down and no longer protect that heart.

Shelby, you were indeed my soul mate. Our bond was strong but made stronger by my being your primary caregiver for almost a year. Looking back on where I was last year at this time,( getting ready for the spin event), I was woefully unprepared. We didn’t know what was wrong with you yet but you were recovering from your broken leg and I had taken time off from eating well or exercising. I didn’t know how I would spin for three hours on a bike that I hadn’t been on in almost 2 weeks. But you gave me strength. I was strong for you and I will be strong for you again this year. So this Sunday, Shelby, I will put your name on my arm and feel you by my side the entire time. I will proudly wear your yellow Tripawds bandanna in your honor.

I miss you, baby girl, love of my life … please let me know you are doing ok. Send me some pennies. Send me a sign that you haven’t forgotten about me. Know that I will never forget about you. Looking at your old pictures for your blog today remind me, once again, how strong and pure and true our bond was. I love you to the moon and back, Shelby Lynne… always and for all infinity.

Love this face!
Always curious and independent!
Tripawd Nation – now and for forever

#TBT Shelby – the master tear-licker

Coming off two incredibly difficult weeks at work, I am hyper-sensitive and acutely aware of how much I depended on Shelby to comfort me through every challenging aspect of my life. Last week, the school in which I work at, had three 8th grade girls get hit by a car that ran a red light and threw them feet into the air. As administrative staff, we rushed to comfort the other children that witnessed it and help get the parents to their kids. In the week that followed, there was a lot of unknown, including the condition of one of the girls who was struck. Our community came together to support one and other but it was always hard to come home to an empty house.

This past Monday, our school was placed on lock-down for 5 hours due to a crazed gunman on a rooftop right on the opposite side of the street. Once again, our strength as a community was tested as we watched our block fill with swat teams, the bomb squad, the press, the police. Never have I seen so many guns drawn since I was in Boston in 2013 for the Marathon when the bombs went off at the finish line. As I escorted the children to the nearby park where they were reunited with their parents, I was forced to be strong for the little ones who were having to walk past men and women with rifles and bullet proof vests. I came home that night, exhausted.

When I returned to my hotel after the Boston bombings, my phone was filled with messages and texts but the one that stuck out was from the vet … Shelby’s home away from home. They had called to let me know that Shelby was quite fine but was very concerned about her mama. I broke down in tears. Shelby, of course, being a canine, had no clue what had happened but it was a real fear of mine that what would happen to Shelby, God forbid something happen to me. Never have I been so glad to get my girl out of ‘jail’.

Home sweet home after the Boston Marathon











Shelby was always my amazing source of comfort, through a break-up, through tough anniversaries (like the date of the passing of my father), from a bad day at work to a horrible run – that girl was always eager to greet me with a smile, with a snuggle, with a kiss. Even though Shelby knew that I wasn’t a big fan of on the face / mouth kisses, she would give kisses to my hands, arms, to let me know that she was there for me. Sometimes, if the days were bad and I was feeling emotional and I would try and hide it from Shelby, and she would always figure it out. And she would get up from wherever she was and she would come to me and love on me. Shelby slept with me in the bed most nights (before her injuries) and I could always count on her to lay right next to me on the nights I needed it the most.

I remember when her leg broke, her vet said, over and over – we’ll fix this. We will make this right. You were in Boston. You don’t deserve any more bad luck.

But it wasn’t me. It was Shelby and I had to comfort her. And I did. Till the very last breath and I have no regrets about that.

But my girl – oh how I miss your snuggles. Oh how I miss being able to tell you about my day. How crappy it was. How great it was. From the second I woke up in the morning, we would talk. I would always tell you good morning and that I loved you.  As I would leave for work and you would be settling in for your day, I would tell you to have a good day and that I loved you. When I got home from work, I would ask you about your day and what you did (even though I am pretty sure you checked out the kitchen for food that wasn’t there and slept on the couch all day). You were always SO happy when I got home. I miss our evening routine….I would get home, perhaps find you in your bed (or at the door with your tail wagging). But if you were in your bed, I would drop my stuff and come and get on the floor next to you or if you were in my bed, cuddle up with you there. I would give you kisses and you would make the cutest little moaning sounds …I guess it was your version of purring. We would get up and the swirling tail dance would begin. We would go for our walk, come home and you always thought it was dinner time! You were so food motivated!

Daylight savings was the worst – it somehow adjusted your internal dinner alarm clock earlier – always. I don’t know why, looking back on it, I decided that 6:00 p.m. was a proper dinner time for you. Maybe it was the control freak in me and that I liked to eat dinner around 6 p.m. as to keep hunger later in the evening at bay.

But right now, I go home each night to an empty house. Your bowls have been put up. Your dog food was donated to homeless pooches. I saw your container of biscuits this a.m. I can’t bear the throw them out and I know that I should. Your beds remain the same place. I don’t even think the cleaning lady moves them anymore to vacuum under them since she knows there isn’t new fur there. Your toy box is still over-flowing. Oh my silly best friend … what I wouldn’t kill for one more day with you, one more snuggle, one more kiss. I miss you so much. I miss the comfort you brought me. I feel my strength failing me. I feel more and more lost without you. I miss you more and more. There are ups and downs with this crazy grief thing … I hope you  can feel how much I love you, my little soul dog. The couch just doesn’t feel the same without you on it!

Silly dog!


“I love you Mommy” … my true love!
Morning snuggles were always the best! You loved to watch TV.

One year ago you broke your leg and thus our long journey began

It was June 8, 2012, just another Saturday at the Farmer’s Market. You were having fun in the ‘free’ doggy day-care while I shopped for flowers, fresh fruits and veggies. We left with high hopes for the rest of our day! And you jumped, like you had, a million times, into my car. And you missed. I will never forget the sound you made – the hysterical cry as you lay on the ground. I rushed to you and you nipped at me – the first time you had ever done that – and I knew you were seriously hurt and scared. It broke my heart. I got you into my backseat and snuggled you w/blankets as you went totally calm. I yelled at people who accused me of hurting you. They didn’t know us. They didn’t know our love story.

I drove like a bat out of hell to your vet. “Broken leg” was the immediate diagnosis. As upsetting as that was, I knew we could fix it. I just knew. I didn’t know what was yet to come. The week of up and downs, mis-diagnosises, the lack of bed-side manner, having to make decisions on the fly without all the facts, having your life and fate in my hands. Never have I been so scared. Never have I felt so alone.

I will never forget the horrible vet (not one ours) that announced in  the waiting room with you in my arms that you had cancer and were going to die. Horrible bedside manner. And then to have him advise me to calm down as I hysterically sobbed. I wanted a second opinion. I got one. Same diagnosis. They ran some tests on you. They found a mass on your spleen but the biopsy said it was benign. The aspirate on your leg came back benign too. But everyone was convinced you had Osteosarcoma. I got a third opinion. Dr. Carey was kind and her nurse was so compassionate. She also thought bone cancer but there was no evidence. We decided to amputate. My friend found me this website. I posted my panic and the kind members reached out immediately for support.

Late Sunday night, the day before you were to become a tripawd, I got a call that changed everything. We could plate/fix the leg. The most extensive biopsy conducted showed NO signs of bone cancer. It was suspected a fungal infection. That was treatable. There was still the lump on your shoulder and the mass on your spleen but no cancer found. I breathed a sign of relief. They were going to take a huge chunk when you were under and there was still the chance we would have to amputate but for now, we were going to keep the leg. I made that choice. It was the best choice I could make with the information I had in front of me. I refuse to continue to ask myself if we had taken the leg then, would we have found the hemangiosarcoma earlier? I cannot continue to torment and beat myself up. You know I did everything with the utmost love and affection.

Post-op for your first surgery













So you came home and the healing began. You gained mobility of that leg again pretty quickly. You did SO well. The vets were so impressed.  The tests came back – not osteosarcoma. But also not a fungal infection. You were a medical mystery. The vet still maintained it was cancer but without a definitive diagnosis, I didn’t want to believe it. You still limped but I figured perhaps it was arthritis that had made you weaker. You were over 12 years old at the time. You had always been a jumped. It was inevitable that those joints much be tired. I put you on supplements. I changed your diet. You continued to get up on furniture, despite my telling you not to jump. You were always such a strong-willed little fighter.

Two weeks post-op, look how happy!

















Totally not where she was supposed to be!














We had an amazing summer – I was off work and we spent hours outside by the beach, in the grass, in the sunshine. We went to happy hour (a lot), went for coffee, spent all our days and nights together. It was wonderful. You were healing well and I thought we had dodged a huge bullet, only to find out in September, that you indeed had cancer.

Water therapy!











Love of my life










So I will remain forever thankful for the wonderful memories of last summer. I will be grateful for being able to be with you and watch you recover and take care of you. I will continue to live in the moment and ‘be more dog’.  I will vow, from today forward, to forgive myself for your breaking your leg. Perhaps that break was meant to be and it saved your life. It put us on notice. On watch for things yet to come. I know you are in my heart and you are guiding me daily.

Summer was always our special time. This summer will be different. But I have so many HAPPY photos and memories of the great fun that we had! Shelby we had such a wonderful life; could there be a luckier dog?!? I have to believe and I have to forgive myself, since I know you already have. I have to know that you know that I did every thing within my God-given financial power for you. I miss you, baby girl. I miss you so much. I knew I would be sad this weekend; I was prepared for it. And as I allow myself to shed some tears in remembrance, know that I am looking at our photos of our amazing together and my heart is truly filled with joy. We had the greatest love story – ever. You lived every moment to the fullest and I strive to be more like you now.

I am taking more risks, Shelby, I am letting people in again. I am opening my heart. And I am keeping your spirit and memory alive. Because while you have had your angel wings for two months (today) and it was a year ago we started this, I know that I continue to grow and gain strength. It’s not that I don’t miss you every single day – it’s that I know you are sending me healing love and energy to help with the pain. And most importantly, I am going to work on forgiving myself. You have. That much I do know. I love you, Shelby,  to the moon and back and for all infinity.




Two months an angel

It’s been two months today (eight weeks exactly) that Shelby said goodbye to her cancer ridden body and was allowed to soar high above, all four legs back, and to start her new mission, serving as my personal guardian angel. I miss her so terribly much.

As I approach the one year marker of when she first broke her leg, a new flood of emotions permeates my heart and soul. This video was taken ONE week prior to her breaking her leg.


There are so many questions I have… how is it possible that four days later, on June 8th, she would miss the jump into the car and fall and break her leg. How would my otherwise happy and healthy dog embark on what would be the last 10 months of her life? How did I not see a limp or anything wrong with her? And the worst, why did I let her jump into that car? BUT I am working on striking those thoughts from my mind. Because there is no good that can come from “what if” and Shelby didn’t live like that. I vow again to “be more Shelby”.

About the number 8. I posted the other day on the Tripawds forums that I noticed that the number “8” plays a key role in Shelby’s 10 months on this earth.

June 8 – Shelby broke her leg
August 8 – I interviewed for the job that I ultimately get that would allow for me to take bereavement when Shelby passed
September 8 – Shelby’s spleen was enlarged and subsequently removed but thankfully I was home with her and able to get her to the ER before it ruptured, thus saving her life and finding the hemangiosarcoma cancer.
January 8 – Shelby becomes a Tripawd
April 8 – Shelby earns her wings

As was pointed out to me, eight turned on the side is the symbol for infinity. For as long as I can remember, I would tell Shelby that I loved her to the moon and back and for all infinity. I am not one to put a lot of stock in numerology but I cannot ignore the message presented to me here. Shelby is and remains my soul mate and that is forever.

I was also told that in Chinese culture, the number eight is lucky.

In the two months since Shelby has been gone, I’ve been up down and around. I worked intensely through the month of May which proved to be a great distraction for my immense grief. I went on a mini-vacation and had a lot of time to think and remember how much I truly miss Shelby. It was hard but it was important for me to do. And I found a penny on the floor in a dressing room in Palm Springs that let me know that Shelby was indeed with me that entire trip.

I have learned a lot about myself and how well (or not well) I am still handling this. I am finally able to look through photos on Petfinder without comparing every dog to my beautiful Shelby (I am not ready to adopt yet but I am no longer opposed to owning another fur-baby). I am going to start volunteering at a local animal rescue here in Los Angeles with the hope of being a ‘guardian angel’ volunteer which includes taking the dogs on hikes and runs to assess their temperament and activity levels for their future fur-ever home.  Will be a win/win for everyone – I’ll get in shape (again) and the dogs will get a decent amount of fresh air and activity.

And in two weeks I will participate in my 5th annual YAS Spin-A-Thon for cancer research. I have dedicated my ride and fundraising efforts to Shelby’s memory. Without modern medical advances in cancer fighting drugs, Shelby wouldn’t have received the great treatment and care that she did. It will be my most emotional and intense spin yet, but I will be dressed in head to two #tripawds attire and will spin with Shelby in my heart and on my back.

It’s true what they say, that the pain never really goes away. You just learn to manage it better. Some days are better than others. Weekends are still really hard. Summer, which was our favorite time of year, will be really hard.

This upcoming weekend will be really hard knowing that last year at this time we spent the weekend in the ER with her broken leg and were given the diagnosis of osteosarcoma which was later proven untrue. When I think of the emotional, gut-wrenching roller coaster of emotions I had at the beginning of June and how I found strength where I didn’t think I could. I knew I had to be strong for Shelby. And I know that I can and WILL find  the strength to get through this weekend and the subsequent weeks of this month (as I see the photo reminders from last year on my phone and Facebook page).

I just remind myself, that I did everything within my physical, medical and financial power with the information I had at that time. And that every vet would have made the exact same decisions I made.

And so with that , I chose to end this with some fun memories of my girl… till next time, Shelby Lynne. Remember, mommy loves you to the moon and back and for all infinity. XOXOXO

At the little park by our house that we used to go to with the neighbors. Shelby never wanted to play but preferred to guard the treats.











We loved the beach













Love you to the moon and back and for all infinity!