National Dog Day – celebrating Shelby and all those that came before her

It’s a day dedicated to those four-legged fur-babies that are amazing and bring us all so much joy! I cannot remember a time in my life when I haven’t been graced and blessed with the presence of a dog. What better day than to devote a whole post to the many four-leggeds (and that one super special three-legged) dogs that I have shared my life with through the years.

From the day I came from the hospital, I have been surrounded by dogs. Before my parents had me, they had two other dogs, Gypsy (an Airedale mix from a pet store) and Sunshine (a little black poodle that they rescued under a car in a parking lot). Gypsy, from what I heard and can remember, was a BAD dog as far as bad dogs go. She was definitely bonded to my father. She destroyed furniture, escaped, and ran amok in the house.

Sunshine was a total love. Clearly grateful for being rescued. Sadly, she had heart issues and passed away when I was very young. Other than photos, I have limited memories of her.

My ‘dressing up’ of pets started at an early age. Gypsy was my object of torment. That poor little patient dog finally had enough when the day before my 5th birthday, I put a necktie around her neck a bit tight and snap! Red nose in all the photos. Gypsy eventually went on to become my “Sandy” the Halloween I was the scrappy little orphan Annie. We became close friends for sure – even though, as a child, I was still a tad jealous of her bond with my father.

Years later, when I was old enough to care for my own dog, we welcomed another dog into our home. Misty. I was in the 4th grade when we got Misty and she was to be my responsibility, my dog. She was a terrier/poodle mix – a white ball of fluff! She was the sweetest dog. She was loving, patient (also subject to wardrobe changes), and the guest of honor at all my tea parties! I could get Misty to ride in a baby stroller (like a baby) and thought of her as my baby.

When I was in about 5th grade, Gypsy was sadly diagnosed with cancer. While I don’t remember all the details of that, I do remember asking classmates to set intentions for her and ultimately, we humanely said goodbye. My father, the lover of all animals, was devastated. I do believe that Gypsy was his ‘heart dog’. So that left us with little Misty.

But the home felt empty with just one dog. And then came Ginger. Ginger was a pet shop purpose (back in the day before that was an un-PC thing to do). They told us she was a cocker spaniel. They didn’t know. Ginger quickly bonded with my father and had utter contempt for me. I liked her enough but tolerated her existence. She and Misty were fast friends. Misty loved everyone!

Scrunchies found themselves tied around Ginger’s ears, tail, legs. Ginger played (a lot ) of wheelbarrow. Ginger was long like a dachshund but had beautiful red fur. She was the most interesting looking animal.

Soon I went off to college and left behind my childhood friend, Misty and ‘Ginger’. Ginger would send me notes at college, telling me how much she didn’t miss me (ha) and how she would sleep on my bed (ha ha) and how when I came home,  I would be sleeping on the floor! My college roommates and I all loved the correspondence from Ginger!

As I have mentioned before, my father was ill this entire time with cancer. Eventually I graduated from college and came home to be with him. Less than a year after my college graduation, my father passed away. Ginger was by his side the entire time. She was in the hospice with us when he took his last breath. She grieved with us and she was never quite the same. I believe that Ginger believed my father to be her soul mate. Within a year, Ginger’s health failed and I truly believe that dog died of a broken heart.

All that remained was Misty. She was living with my mom now, aging, but aging well. She had some hearing and vision issues. But she was happy. I had since moved on in my life, moving to New Orleans and my visits with my childhood dog were limited. By this point. Misty and my mom had a bond that could not be broken. I believe that Misty was my mother’s ‘heart dog’.

At the age of, I believe, 17, Misty’s health failed her and she passed away. Old age. My mother has never fully healed. She still misses Misty so terribly much and that’s been over 10 years.

While living in New Orleans, I was rescued by Miss Shelby Lynne … the love of my life. The  reason this blog exists. The reason I am the person I am today. At that time, I was a young 28 year old woman – I didn’t know ‘heart dogs’, ‘soul mates’  or anything like that. But Shelby made her place in my heart and each day, year our love grew and grew. She was the absolute best thing that ever happened to me and saved me on so many levels so many times.

And through her health issues last year, one thing remained true – our love. It never wavered. I never questioned any extreme medical decision because I believe that it was what my father would do and what Shelby deserved.

And when Shelby crossed over the Rainbow Bridge last April, I know she was greeted by Gypsy, Sunshine, Ginger and Misty. Ginger probably told her what a mega PITA I was. Sunshine and Misty probably snuggled up to give her loves. And Gypsy and her compared costume choices.

This past June was when I realized that, for the first time in my 40 years on this earth, there were no dogs in our family. My mom is dog-less right now. What a surreal feeling. There has always been a dog. And then Shelby (and probably with the help of a few more angels) sent me little Jasper Lily.

Jasper Lily is a healthy combination of all the dogs I have known and loved. She’s enough of a challenge that makes me think that Shelby and Ginger are laughing about it, enough of a snuggle bug that I know Sunshine and Misty had their hand in that and then enough of a pee machine (in my house) to know Gypsy did that.

It gives me a sense of peace and calm thinking that this is how Jasper came into my life. And also that my dad was there over the bridge to welcome and care for Shelby. And that I have two guardian angels – two souls who loved me with all their being.

Shelby is my heart dog and soul mate and will remain so,but it’s a wonderful world to be so blessed to have had so many kind dogs grace my life …

Mom and Dad with Gypsy and Sunshine
The other dogs in my life … Shelby, Ginger, Misty and Jasper Lily


My beautiful soul mate … Shelby Lynne, August 2013

#TBT Shelby Style

Shelby, my baby, it’s been a while since I’ve updated your blog. You are in my heart and my thoughts every single day. I hope you know that. I hope you can hear me talking about you and talking TO you. Yet, probably in true “Shelby fashion” you are doing your best to ignore my constant chatter.

I never realized how much I talked to you or about you until you were gone. I was scrolling through my FB page from last year and I came upon this photo and the caption with it:

Still a full moon? “Yeah, I’m going to continue to go bat shit crazy, roll around like a crazy dog, pull the fluff out of many toys and lick the dinner plate when mommy eats at the coffee table (without asking)” – said psycho Shelby!















It was just a couple weeks later our world was rocked with your spleen removal and hemangiosarcoma diagnosis. I am dreading reliving that part of our life from last year as I know those memories are etched in my mind. I want/try to focus on all the good times we had but sometimes it’s just really hard.

Memories from last summer … 

Last summer, since I wasn’t working, we made Thursday into “Vodka Thursdays”. I should have trademarked it. We would go to the Beachside Inn, walk along the water a bit and then grab some happy hour cocktails on the deck and watch the sun set. It was the best!  Shelby was the perfect drinking companion, super chillax and friendly to every one. For a dog that hated the water, you should found your sea legs in the calm currents of the ocean. And of course, it was the one time I had taken the towels out of my car!

Water therapy?











Chilling while mommy drinks!
It was pretty windy!












We also went to explore the botanical gardens at UCLA. Since Shelby couldn’t hike or go as far, this was something fun for us to do. Shelby loved to be out in nature; she loved to sit outside, bask in the sun, smell the random smells of the animals, watch the turtles.

Fearless pooch!












And of course, most of our weekends included sitting outside like this.  It was perfect. I would have done my long run and just wanted to chill and Shelby couldn’t go far on her walks but wanted to be outside. I remember when we lived in the valley we had a balcony that overlooked the parking lot. Literally, all you could see were driveways and garbage bins but Shelby loved to sit outside in the sun and watch the world go by. That was my only complaint about our new home – no balcony. But we would happily sit in the middle of the sidewalk for hours while she could watch people, dogs, cats pass by and I could work on my tan and rest my legs.

My 25# lapdog!

Without even realizing it, last summer was our last summer. I think, perhaps, on some level I did know that. I knew there was something wrong with that leg and that despite us not knowing, eventually it was going to come out. My not having a job was a true blessing in disguise. I got to spend every waking minute with my best girl. Neither of us could have asked for a better way to spend our time. Our bond grew even stronger (if that was even possible). Every day was something new. I would work for hours in the a.m. doing job search stuff, etc and then in the afternoon, we would play. We would nap, we would sit outside, we would go for cocktails! Pretty much what we would do during every other summer (yet mostly one the weekends). With Shelby, everything was an experience, a gift, a treasure. People told me to make the most of last summer and I really did try. I have some regrets – partly my own subconscious that held me back – but for the most part, I kept true to my promise to Shelby – to make her life extraordinary. Looking back on my posts from last summer, we did have a lot of cautious fun! Yet, Shelby and I were so in-sync, I am sure she felt my stress, felt my concern about her health, felt my anxiety.

But as this summer winds down, and I’ve made some new happy memories, I definitely do feel the spirit of Shelby guiding me to new memories and trying to keep the dark spots of last summer out of my conscious. I knew this would be a hard summer and the next several months as I relive the darkest time in our fight but I have to stay and remain #shelbystrong and remember that my strength comes from Shelby and her spirit that lives on in me. I love you Shelby Lynne … I love you more than words can ever say. My heart is still 100% yours and I miss you each and every day and while I cry a little less, I still have days when I am not as brave. But I think of how brave you were – always were – and my spirit is lifted! Thank you, Shelby, for making summer 2013 one filled with great joy and love!