View Full Version : I miss my Shadow

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08-17-2005, 02:15 AM
This is dog related and has absolutely nothing to do with aikido. I just found myself needing to express something.

Shadow passed away on December 9, 2005. She had been with me almost nine years. I still cry constantly for her presence....

I first encountered Shadow in the first house I ever bought. Buddy and I moved in after Buddy was about six months old.

As a bit of background, I received Buddy from the local shelter when he was about three months old. Three days later my sister called me at a night meeting and told me that she thought he had parvo and was taking him to the emergency vet. I met her at home and together we drove to the all night vet. After an anxious wait, I was told that Buddy had parvo. They told us that Buddy probably would not survive and that owners usually put such dogs to sleep. My sister said no way and so committed me to five plus days of intensive doggy care and all attendant costs.

Buddy survived, and still lives today. Sis made a good decision. And I haven’t regretted it once. In fact, the day I brought Buddy home from the hospital, took him to work as they told me he had to be watched for the next 48 hours. I work in a law office. My boss walked in and wanted to know why my dog was at work. I told him I could take vacation time and tend to my dog, or I could be there and work. He shut up.

So back to Shadow. I came home after about five months to find Shadow in my back yard. She was a little black shiny whelp of a thing, but Buddy seemed to like her. I discovered that the neighbors grandmother had found her and dropped her off for her grandchildren.

Now, my neighbors couldn’t care for their own children let alone a dog. When I asked about food, I was told that table scraps and an egg were sufficient for a puppy. When I pointed out that Shadow had worms, I was told all puppies have worms. I watched as the father hosed Shadow after finding poops on the pool deck. I was told that Shadow’s daily escapes from their yard were just puppies being puppies.

Eventually, Shadow daily found a way into my backyard where I left her puppy food that Buddy could not reach. Shadow and Buddy became great friends. Eventually, the neighbors patched all the holes between their yard and mine and Shadow could visit no more.

Shortly thereafter, I sold my house and moved within the same city. My sister and I had loaded the last of my things in my car. I was driving. My sister looked at me and asked, “should we take her?” I said yes. My sister then hopped out of the car, ran to the neighbors gate, opened it and grabbed Shadow, loading her into the car. When we got to my new house, Buddy and Shadow were overjoyed to see each other again.

I took Shadow to the vet the next day. She had a tape worm. Untreated, she would have been dead within six months...or so the vet said.

The next eight years were filled with challenges. The most sweet, submissive, loving, patient dog of all time found every way to escape known to man. I termed Shadow my amazing Houdini dog during this time. She could jump a seven foot fence, open gates, open windows, push through barriers..... She never ran away. I would come home from work to find her sleeping in the flower bed next to the front door. (or chained to the tree in the front yard....I left the chain because all the neighbors knew that she was a sweet thing and often got out.)

Thereafter, we moved a few more times. Shadow was still intent on keeping all other animals from our yards, but had mellowed on her escape routines.

In October of 2004, I noticed she had gained weight. Shadow was a lab-whippet cross and always thin. However, she had not been to the vet in over five years. I assumed she was getting old and slowing down. She gained more weight and began to look bloated. Finally in November I took her to the vet. He was concerned about her liver. The next day she was at the specialist. Liver disease was diagnosed, with less than 20% function – generally fatal.

Shadow came home to a routine of medicines. Roughly six times a day. I had hope until about three days before she died. The day before she passed away, I had made the decision to put her to sleep–she seemed so lethargic and unhappy...so uncomfortable and wanting of my presence. My vivacious Shadow should not have to endure what she was going through.

I got up that morning. Went through my routine. Knew the end was near. Shadow was so weak I had to lift her into the arm chair, but I didn’t call in sick that day. I knew in my heart that she was too weak to make it through the day. But, coward that I was, I went to work that day. Normally, I would have gone home at one in the afternoon to give her her medications, but I delayed that day until after two in the afternoon. She was still warm when I got home that day, but she was gone from my life forever.

So why the post? Because I still feel guilty. I should have stayed home that day. I should have spent Shadow’s last hours with her. She gave me so much joy in my life, I should have had the courage to give her those last few hours of comfort. I should have been there when she died. More than that, I should have taken her to the vet the moment I thought anything was wrong. But Shadow had always been high strung...always moody....always up and down in her weight. I just didn’t want to face that anything more than old age might be the problem.

Eight months later, I still cry myself to sleep at the loss of my lovely companion. Since her death, Buddy and I have started walking each morning and night....something which Shadow would have loved but I was too lazy to do. The vet gave Buddy a full work up. Found out he was hypothyroid, which explained his obesity. He has lost twenty pounds (I have lost 45), goes to the vet frequently, and is in great health despite his arthritics and ten years. I hope he lives for at least another five....don’t know how I will survive his passing.

I still miss my Shadow and still think that if I had taken her to the vet sooner we might have caught the disease in time. My vet told me that liver disease seldom shows physical signs until it is too late. Unfortunately, this is no comfort.

I made the mistake of searching on-line, and all the signs were there if I had only known to see them..... So while I know that Shadow would not have lived beyond a year if I had not taken her, she might have lived much longer had I taken her for regular check-ups with the vet.

So while my rescue might have given her nine extra years of life, my negligence might have cost her (and me) an extra five.

I miss my Shadow.


James Davis
08-17-2005, 10:48 AM
I understand how you feel. My dog, Frosty, died in my arms as I carried him through the animal hospital's parking lot. The vet used a BUNCH of oxygen, an entire 5' tank, to try to revive him. She didn't charge us a dime, and sent us a card in the mail offering her condolences; until that day, we weren't even her clients! I'm thankful that such a good soul was there for me to ease my pain at Frosty's passing.
I probably could have taken better care of Frosty. He had his share of fleas, as he lived outside, and the flea collar didn't seem to do a whole lot. I know what kind of guilt you're feeling, and I would be foolish to tell you to just shake it off and move on. I guess the best advice I can give is for you to learn from it. Take this negative experience and bad feeling and use it to remind yourself to love better those around you. Learn from your mistakes and make the world better. ;)

Take care. :)

08-17-2005, 11:24 AM
Such sad stories.

I dont have anything nearly as interesting as yours but there was this dog my stepdad had. Her name was Lucy. She was an English setter , very gentle and friendly natured.Very pretty with long white fur with little bluish-gray patches. Surprisingly clean especially for an outside dog. And she was so great to have around, she made the atmosphere so relaxed. And even tho i only knew her for about the last 2 years of her life(she was very old), i really liked her alot.

And one day out of the blue she just died. Most likely just old age, she hadnt shown any signs that she was sick or anything like that. Bill was pretty upset. His other dog Pooky , had just run away not too long before that. ( Pooky was Lucy's puppy)

But of course, we've filled our voids with other dogs since then. We got a Jack russel terrier named Grady. (not my favorite dog) He was hit by a car which really surprised me because i didnt think he could sit still long enough to get hit by a car.

And now we have a Weimeraner named Gus. He is a great dog one of my favorites. But none of our dogs in my opinion have every been as great as Lucy. I'll never forget her.

Didnt realize this was going to be such a huge post. Just talking.


08-18-2005, 12:52 AM

My husband and I have got two cats (or do they have us? ;) ) and even though we have only had them for 6 months I find it very hard to imagine how I would feel if anything happened to them.
Many decisions concerning our pets involve responsibility (do we let the cats go outside? shall we have them vaccinated? which cat food is the best so the tomcat doesn´t get kidney stones? etc), and we certainly make mistakes sometimes, but what matters most (IMO), is that we care for them and take care of them. It sounds like you did just that perfectly.

I think my point is that you shouldn´t be too hard on yourself and rather cherish your memories. I can understand how much you must be missing your dog.


08-18-2005, 02:08 AM
Nice post. Sorry about the dog, but life goes on.

Lorien Lowe
08-19-2005, 01:11 AM
My dog is twelve; he's on medication for arthritis, has cataracts, and has at least a dozen non-malignant lipomas on his body (hidden by his long fur), but is still more handsome than most younger dogs, happy, and cheerful. I dread the day that he gives me 'the look,' though, or that I come home to find out that something has happened to him.
I've had this dog for nearly half of my life; he's been with me more during that time than any other single living being. I hate that dogs live such short lives.

The dog that shared the first half of my life died when he was 12; I had to convince my parents that it was time to put him down. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done; it was horrible; I may never forgive myself; I would do it again if I were in the same place.


Anita Crowhurst
08-26-2005, 09:53 AM
Hey, I'm sorry for your loss, & I understand. I wish I'd stayed with one of our dogs in his last moments at the vets. I had to stop keeping gerbils & hamsters because I got so upset each time they passed away.
I hope you & Buddy have lots of fun together.

09-14-2005, 10:40 PM
Kind of delayed, but I wanted to thank everyone for their kind posts.

In my heart, I know I gave Shadow a better life than her previous owners. However, I will always regret not taking her to the vet sooner.

Shadow was deeply loved and therefore spoiled rotten :-) Slept on the bed by my head -- she would growl Buddy to the foot of the bed:-) She had full run of the furniture -- occasionally, she would growl Buddy off of the couch :-)

She had good food, lots of treats, and frequently ate from my plate -- sometimes without my consent :-) (I tend to eat at the livingroom coffee table. She would never touch my food if she thought I was paying attention. However, if the phone rang or someone knocked at the door, the moment my attention was diverted, she ate everything in sight!)

Furniture was always arranged so that she could look out the windows. I still miss seeing her sweet face in the front window as I would drive off to work each morning...

Anyway, thanks again for letting me vent and comforting me in my grief...