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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


  1. Michelle Said,

    August 26, 2014@ 7:53 pm      Reply

    awww Thank you so much for telling us about your furbabies past & present. It is awesome to hear such wonderful stories (even the hate mail from Ginger LOL)

    Love love al the pictures

    Michelle & Angel Sassy

  2. benny55 Said,

    August 26, 2014@ 8:55 pm      Reply

    Ohhh mysweet Alison…such a beatiful tribute to each of the lovely souls who came into you life to help shape you into the loving human you are today. I’ve actually read through this three times. I wanted to capture the essence of each dog and the delightful impact that had on you and your family.

    I DO believe Shelby was greeted by Ginger, Sunshine, Misty, Gypsy and your Dad just as you envisioned. And the way each of them “installed” a bit of their Spirit into Jasoer Lily so y i u woukd know they were still around..I LOVE THAT!!

    And Ginger’s letters to you…PRICELESS!!! Did your Mom or your Dad “help” Ginger write those adorable letters? A very, very loving gesture. I now know your gift for writing and articulating so beautifully stemmed from Ginger!!

    The pictures are wonderful and the snippets of each of their lives..told with such fondness and love.

    Alison, thank y o u for acknowledging National Dog Day with these cherished memories. It made me pause and take a moment to say a silent and loving “thank you” to each of the dogs who I have loved and who have loved me. Being a bit older than you and rarely just having one dog at a time, usually at least two or three, it took me quite awhile!!! It was a warm fuzzy reflective time.

    Thank you for being you! I love you…we all do!!

    Sally and Happy Hannah and My Pal Merry Myrtle Mae!

  3. kazann Said,

    August 26, 2014@ 9:32 pm      Reply

    Happy dog day, all you doggies. I’ve never lived with a dog myself but love them just as much as I love cats. I have the great pleasure of being a dog auntie. Tika (a Corgi/Staffordshire Terrier mix) takes me for a walk three times a week.

    Thanks for the reminder and showing the photos of your beautiful dogs.

    Kerren and Mona (who doesn’t know what a dog is)

  4. penny4weims Said,

    August 26, 2014@ 10:27 pm      Reply

    That was the sweetest tribute. Brought me back to all the dogs we had growing up. Unfortunately didn’t know about spay and neuter in the 60’s so had many puppies. Maybe you should drag your Mom down to the shelter to find a new friend??

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