Oh Shelby … what a patient dog you were! I miss you so very much. I’ve been sick this week and I’ve been missing you SO much. You were the best nurse. You snuggled when I needed it. Gave me space when I needed it. Did your business outside when I wanted you to. And always understood that I couldn’t walk as far when I was fighting a cold. I think having a compromised immune system is a recipe for intense emotions. I just miss you so terribly much.
Shelby was always so great about the 4th of July. Maybe it was her early roots on the streets in the hood of New Orleans but the fireworks never phased her. I remember the first year we lived by the beach, we walked down to see the fireworks and people were stunned that I was there with my dog. I held you in my arms and we watched the show. I truly believed you liked seeing the pretty colors in the sky (never mind that dogs don’t see colors). Maybe you just really loved being with me and in my arms. You weren’t spooked or anything.
Holidays always meant a time to ‘dress up’. What patience you always had for us and the costumes I would put you in. It never got old. And you wore those costumes so well. You were so proud to showcase your ‘assets’ for all the world to see. Everyone loved to see what outfit you would turn up in!
I miss you baby girl. So very much. I hope you know how much I think about you – every single moment of every single day. There will never be another you. There will never be another “love of my life”. I long to hold you in my arms one more time and watch those sparklies in the sky! So tomorrow… I hope you can still see the fireworks over the bridge and I hope you and your buddies are having a blast! I love you, Shelby Lynne… to the moon and back and for all infinity.
I’m not exactly sure when I thought it would be fun to take Shelby on mini vacations, road trips. I know we didn’t do any of that in New Orleans. In Seattle, we pretty much stayed at home or ventured to the Oregon Coast for a weekend here and there. But once we moved to LA, Shelby seemed to be my go-to travel buddy. She had mellowed out and was ‘moderately’ well behaved in social settings (aka restaurants).
I do recall in Seattle taking her to a coffee shop where she would have to sit outside and wait for me. I would never consider that now – but in Seattle, it was safe and no one was snatching dogs. But Shelby would have NONE of that. She suffered from severe abandonment issues and even though she could ‘see’ me through the window, she would scream and holler like she was being skinned. Anyone who has ever heard of the “Shiba Scream” knows what sounds I am talking about. On more than one occasion (because I thought she would get better or get used to being tied up outside) someone would come into the coffee shop and ask who’s dog it was. Usually I would rush the coffee order and get out there to find her calmly being pet and loved on by other patrons. So maybe it was her way of getting extra snuggles. #dramaqueen
Somewhere along the way, I decided it would be fun to take Shelby to Santa Barbara for the weekend. It’s a super dog friendly town and I figured we could explore the beaches and wineries. Sadly my designated driver had four paws so that definitely cut down on the number of wineries we could go to. I let her pick out some toys at Petco, packed her up and we hit the road. We had so much fun! Traveling with Shelby was the best. She was pretty well-behaved when we would go out to eat. She was great in hotels (never barked) and I was able to go for a long run, leave her there and come back and find her still snoozing on the bed. I remember our first trip up to Santa Barbara – we were gone a little over 48 hours and it was the best time. I vowed then to take her on as mini getaways as I could. LA is ironically not as dog friendly as one would think so we had to be creative. San Diego, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs … all destinations for us to go and explore.
Shelby was such a good sport. She was always so happy to go. She was so friendly to EVERYONE she met. People fell in love with her. Her smile, her energy, her wagging tail. We had the best times, the best adventures! I couldn’t have asked for a better travel companion. She knew when I got out her travel bag that we were going somewhere exciting. She would do her little dance around the house and basically wouldn’t chill out while I got our things together. On more than one occasion I would yell at her “if you don’t stop, we’re not going anywhere”. Thankfully I never made good on that threat! 🙂 Also as I would try and load things into the car, she was constantly underfoot – I can only assume this is akin to traveling with a human child.
Two years ago I had a job that required a ton of travel and I quickly figured out that I could manage the trips to San Diego by bringing my best friend. They had a doggy daycare there that Shelby would/could play in – from what I was told, she simply followed the staff ALL day looking for pets and snuggles, then we would have dinner out and head back to the hotel. Or we would order room service. There is nothing like trying to eat dinner on a the bed with a wet nose sharking for french fries! But it make the traveling more manageable.
Locally, Shelby and I would grab lunch, go for coffee (in places I could bring her in) or happy hour. Last summer our favorite thing was to go over on Thursdays early afternoon and grab some drinks and snacks. It soon became “Vodka Thursdays”. We had the best summer last summer – not knowing that it would be our last summer. I was off work for 2 months and I got to spend every day with the “love of my life”.
As I pack up my bags this long Memorial Day Weekend (the unofficial start of summer), I do so with a mixture of emotions. There is a huge part of me that really believes I need to get out of LA – even if it’s just for 48 hours. In the past 6 weeks since Shelby passed, I have been going at full speed at work, which has kept me exhausted and distracted. Part of me also feels like I am running away from my new reality. Weekends are still really hard on me. It was our time – even if it was sitting outside in the sunshine and doing nothing, it was our time.
It will be bittersweet to get on the road and drive east without my best friend in the back seat. Shelby would always put her paws on the console when we first got started on an adventure, we would crank up the Neil Diamond and open the sunroof and let the road guide us … my agenda, my destination; Shelby was just happy to be with me. She didn’t care where we were going. Or when we got there.
But I do believe Shelby will be guiding me this weekend; she is always with me. She is in my heart, she is in my mind, she is in my soul. And while I look at this as an escape, I feel hopeful and optimistic that a little rest, a lot of vodka, a lot of french fries and a pool will be just what the doctor ordered.
Another edition of #ThrowbackThursday for Shelby’s blog. As mentioned, Shelby was born and raised in New Orleans. She’s a Cajun pooch at heart and each year, loved to celebrate Mardi Gras and the rich traditions that came with it. Throughout the Mardi Gras season, there are roughly two weeks of nightly (and day) parades, each getting bigger and better and flashier, leading up to “Fat Tuesday” – the all day party of parades with colorful beads, doublooms and other fun stuff.
Prior to Mardi Gras, is the Krewe of Barkus – dedicated to dogs (and proceeds benefited local area shelters). How could Shelby NOT participate?!? That year the theme was “Elvis”. I decided to make Shelby into a “Blue Suede Shoe”.
Shelby was a great sport as I pulled out the can(s) of blue hair spray paint and went to town trying to make her blue. It took several cans as her fur just seemed to absorb the colors but you can see in the above picture, she was blue. I didn’t spray her face since I didn’t want to get it in her eyes and wasn’t sure about the toxicity. My boyfriend at the time was my partner in crime and he helped hold her still. Shelby was still quite the puppy at the time and was hard to contain. I got her little booties and found all the blue beads that I could in my collection. She hated the booties (as you can see, she was trying to rock the tripawd life even back then, trying to shake them off). We managed to get a few blocks into the parade route before she would shake them off.
Never have I met a more patient dog…. she truly just wanted to be loved. We definitely saw lots of other ‘colorful’ dogs that afternoon but no other Blue Suede Shoes!
When we got home, it was promptly into the bathtub for her and I didn’t think we would EVER get the blue out. I kept washing and rinsing and the tub would fill with blue. I had a brief moment of panic when I thought for sure she was going to be blue for forever. My boyfriend, of course, found great humor in this. Eventually, we got most of the blue out and she was fresh and clean once again. I promised her I would never spray paint her again (and I have not) but dressing her up continued.
That was the only Krewe of Barkus that we participated in. I think the parade took a hiatus for a few years and Shelby and I moved out of New Orleans in 2004. But these memories (along with other Mardi Gras memories – when she ate an entire package of red vine and I came home to see her on the floor in a deep sugar coma, vomiting and pooping at the same time and I had to rush her to the ER vet, fighting street closures due to the parades and having her vomit all over the backseat of my car. She was obviously fine but had to have a saline injection put into her back so she looked like a camel to re-hydrate her. Oh and those red vines she snagged, on the kitchen counter – dog was always a jumper) will remain with us forever.
There are times when I wonder what kind of life she lived before she end up in the shelter. Oh how I wish she could talk and tell me about her Cajun lifestyle before the girl from Seattle adopted her way back when … I have to believe her life has only been enhanced, if not more colorful, by living with me. Between the feather boas, the beads, the tiaras; Shelby has embraced her embellished lifestyle … she really lives by the Mardi Gras motto – “Laissez les bon temps rouler” – Let the Good Times Roll!!! #TBT #shelbystrong