East Coast Tripawds Party

I do not even know where to begin to gather my thoughts for one of the most emotional, happy, epic weekends of my life. I knew the gathering would be great. I knew we would all get along. I knew it would feel like we had known each other a lifetime.

But I did not expect to feel as rejuvenated and healed as I do. It has been over three years since Shelby went to the bridge. Some of the darkest days of my life are behind me but that pain still slightly nudges my heart. So on a huge leap of faith – and 100% out of my comfort zone – I bought a plane ticket to DC from Los Angeles over Memorial Day weekend. Others did the planning of where to stay, what to eat, where to go… but all I had was a rental car, little Jasper Lily and some new friends I met at the airport.

From the second I met Tina and Clare, I knew it would be an amazing weekend. We just clicked and instantly got along. I accepted the help of holding Jasper while I got the car (asking and accepting help are still so foreign to me). It was so much easier to get a car rented when you don’t have a dog pulling your arm out.

We drove hours to get to Richmond but it felt like nothing. The conversation was easy and comfortable. Meeting more friends once we arrive, we grabbed some food, checked into our house and then there were four (and one little curious dog). Of course no trip is without drama so Jasper found herself on the receiving end of a mousetrap and for an instant – I panicked. But she was fine, albeit a bit shaken up but like a trooper, she shook it off.

Gathering at the party the next day and meeting Sally is up there on that list of one of the top ten moments of my life. Hannah passed days after Shelby and I always felt our bond further connected us as I knew Hannah (like her mama) would look after Shelby (as her mama looks after me). To see the Tribute Leash in person was powerful, moving and healing. I added Shelby’s ribbon … purple and blingy … to the leash and tied the white ribbon on as she is an angel now.

And thus our day began … people arrived, pups made friends, memories were shared, bonds were made. But it was a day of joy and celebration. Yes, there were tears but it was so much more. It felt safe and I felt comfortable. In ways I didn’t know I would. I felt “at home” and at peace within my community. 

While I will always miss Shelby, my emotions about the day can be summed up as “grateful” and “gratitude”. Obviously, I never wanted Shelby to die or to lose a leg or to have cancer. Of course not. But had our journey not taken that trajectory, I would not have had the chance to meet these amazing souls. Those that comforted me, believed in me, lifted me up and have watched me grow. I have never felt judged in this community. I have always felt safe. I have felt protected and loved. ALL of which was all I could have hoped and done for Shelby in her last 8 months. I always told Shelby that she was safe and she was loved and she was protected and I would always fight for her.

As the weekend ended, Sally reminded us that this weekend is much like our relationship with our dogs … there is simply never enough time. But alas, we all had to go back to our homes, our real lives and reality. I was so hopeful I would be able to articulate in a blog how much this weekend meant for me and I simply don’t have the right words other than “thank you”.  My heart is full. My mind is open. I am ready for the next chapters of my life.

I wrote in our last blog about my return to running and racing and how that felt like a step in the right direction. This weekend pushed me even further onto the other side of grief. I felt at peace. I felt calm. I felt the guilt (that I still sometimes feel about Shelby’s journey) leaving my mind more and more. I felt … quite simply … like a dog! I was living in the moment – each and every moment. WHAT AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE!!!

So with the angel riding shotgun in my heart and the sidekick at my side (who was brilliant and I’ll update her blog too)… I returned to LA with a full heart, a full belly and full of hope. That the best days are yet to come. That taking risks out of the comfort zone make life worth living. And as I stated at the beginning of 2017, I was really ready to start living again and living is what I am doing.

I had no idea how much this weekend would really mean to me. I had no idea the profound impact it would have. Adding Shelby’s ribbon wasn’t as sad as I thought it would be and I accept that. I accept that she will always be my heart dog and the love of my life but it is okay and it right to love and smile and be happy again.

So again, thank you to every soul that took a chance on me, has allowed me to be vulnerable and feel safe with my emotions, that has pushed me to grow and see the glass as half-full. And to Shelby … for being the best co-pilot in life a girl could ask for. She guided me through my 30s… much like a parent guides a child growing up. Shelby was always the alpha but she taught me well. She taught me to love. To trust. To live. And I am finally doing all of those things!

What a weekend … I love you all more than you will probably ever know.

Baby Shelby … her first day home.
Me and my best girl… at our favorite spot!
Always a happy girl! I love you Shelby Lynne!


Author: mom2shelby

Mom to 13 year old Shelby - Jack Russell/Shiba Inu mix. A rescue dog that was born in New Orleans. Shelby is a spirited, smart and happy little dog who loves to run, play, go to the beach (we live in LA) and ride in the car! She is my best friend and the true love of my life!

12 thoughts on “East Coast Tripawds Party”

  1. Beautifully written! Thank you for sharing your experience – I felt like I was there, meeting everyone and connecting.

    Next year!

    Jeanette, Angel Boone & Boone’s Earthly Sidekick Tuck

  2. I just have ro say something quickly for the moment. I am ABSOLUTELY moved to tears with every beautiful sentiment you expressed sooooo perfectly!! You articulated every single feeling from your heart into LOVELY words!!! Yes you did!! Shelby clearly was guiding you as the words flowed.

    I want to come back but I just had to get a note out to you.

    Love to you always dear friend

    Sally and one of Shelby’s’ April Angel Pals, Happy Hannah…and Jasper’s Earth Pals, Frankie and Merry Myrtle 🙂

  3. Alison you are so right. It was a monumental weekend on so many levels. Like you I found that having Max’s ribbon up there with all the other Angels both still here and the ones gone to the bridge gave me a sense of peace and closure. I felt relieved that he was now among the most loved dogs and kitties in the world right where he belonged. The entire weekend couldn’t have been more perfect! It’s truly humbling to meet such a loving, caring group of people in one place like that. It will be a highlight of my life forever.

    Linda & Spirit Mighty Max

  4. Dang it Alison! You made me cry! You summed up your experience perfectly and really gave us an amazing sense of what it was like to be there. I have already been lucky enough to meet you and I so wish I could have met everyone there. Just another reason to buy a rig and hit the road so I CAN meet y’all!

    Martha and the OP

  5. Alison,
    It was great to meet you at the East Coast Tripawds Party. You, among many others, have been so supportive of me through this journey and I’m so very happy that you came away from this experience feeling like you do. I was only there a short time but I was honored to meet you and everyone who attended. YOU GO GIRL!!!!!

  6. Love this!

    I am so glad I got to meet you and all those still there by the time I finally arrived. I know I missed out on so much … I almost didn’t come, but I am glad I did and wish is stuck to my original plan as it would have given me much more time with everyone.

    Next year, I won’t be so foolish – and I’m sure I’ll be traveling solo, which will be tough. The good news is, I know that I will be lifted up by you gentle souls!

    Love to you,
    Amy & Izzy, too

  7. Well said , Alison! The weekend was truly magical, one I’ll never forget. I can’t even get my thoughts straight yet, so many emotions are running through my head. Nitro’s vet asked me what was the biggest surprise, (besides Jim, Rene and Wyatt showing up), and I had no answer. I wasn’t surprised that we all felt like family, that we were so comfortable with each other, that it was emotional, that we had such a good time. It was an honor to meet you and Jasper Lilly; I hope we will somehow get together again someday. Much love to you, my friend.

    Paula and NItro

  8. As a matter of fact, Alison, you articulated this so well that I will not even update my blog. -all my sentiments are in this one (mind you, Manni may want to take over and I might just let him).
    You said it all. And -as you should know- all of this is mutual. I love you, girl!
    And, as our good friend would say: I’LL BE BACK.

  9. This is beautiful, Alison. I’ve always loved and appreciated your posts because you express yourself so wonderfully and easily, and with such a pureness of heart. I’m so happy I got the chance to spend time with you and your remarkable Jasper Lily (the way she took it all in her stride was really incredibly impressive), and because of your writing and because of the fact that she is always in your heart, I feel I’ve met Shelby Lynne too.
    Till we meet again, sweet friend.

  10. Alison you are always so eloquent with your words always have been. You sum up the party really well.

    I added to Sassy’s ribbon because before it was plain I guess that and making it more a memorial than a tribute made it more emotional. The weekend I never imagined me being so emotional. I was a basket case huh LOL. It was a perfect weekend though. I will always remember this weekend and week as being one of the greatest in my lifetime.

    I met some wonderful people who I felt like they were my family. Didn’t matter that we met 2 minutes before. Shelby will forever be with you and all of us will always remember her forever.

    You are all my family.

    hugs and love ya bunches
    Michelle & Angel Sassy

  11. I think the one word that explains this Tripawds community is AMAZING!!!
    What a beautiful tribute to Shelby and to all our fur babies!
    I live in British Columbia in Canada and if ever there is a Tripawds get together in our province, I will do my best to get me and Stewie there to meet all of you incredible people!
    We all have such an incredible gift in common… the love of our fur babies! Plus the fact that we all love our fur babies enough to go to the moon and back for them… what Mum or Dad wouldn’t say that?!
    Thanks to all of you!
    Much appreciation and love from Super Stewie and his Pack,
    Petra, Paul, Spike, Chester & Miss Lily xx🐾🐾🐾🐾❤️

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