I’ve mentioned my dogs before. In fact, if you know me at all, you know I never really stop talking about my dogs, the way the parents of human children never really stop talking about their kids.
Our special needs dog, Lucky, passed away from heart failure in June, 2014. We miss him every day. We weren’t going to get another dog after we lost him. I just wasn’t ready. But 10 months after Lucky died, we found a little boxer/pit mix who desperately needed a home. He was being discriminated against because of his face shape. He was labeled a dangerous breed and his family’s HOA gave them 10 days to rehome him or they would send Animal Control to arrest him. I couldn’t let that happen. We decided to arrange a meet & greet between this pup and our two living children, Shadow and Bella. If all went well, the pup was coming home with us and we would be his forever family.
The dogs got along, we fell in love with the pup, whose name is Captain, and we brought him home.
Shortly after we got him home, Shadow realized something was amiss. He became very vocal about the fact that he was NOT consulted about this addition to the family. He’s always been vocal in his opinions, but he’s getting crankier in his old age. And funnier. I’ve been relaying conversations we’ve had via Facebook, and although friends and family laugh and think he’s just the cutest thing ever, they’re only getting a small soundbite of this dog’s personality.
In January, 2016, we came very close to losing Shadow. Instead, he was diagnosed with diabetes and arthritis, in addition to his chronic obstructive lung disease. He’s also developed cataracts. So, he went from a young, very active dog to a cranky old dog very quickly. And given what he’s dealing with, his wit and humor has held fast throughout.
I know we won’t have Shadow with us for long. He’s going to be 15 next month which is extremely old for his breed (Carolina Dog). I want to publish some of his musings to entertain others, and help me remember how awesome this very rare and precious dog has been for our family.
The first of many conversations Shadow and I had after his diagnosis in January concerned his legacy.
Shadow: Mom, I want to write my memoir, but you need to do all the typing. I have no thumbs.
Me: I didn’t know you were working on a memoir. What brought this on?
Shadow: I’m getting old, Mom. I can’t play Dog Ball anymore. And everyone knows that when you get too old to play your sport, you write a memoir about how awesome you were.
Me: Or they become coaches. You could coach Captain.
Shadow: No way. The kid is hopeless. He doesn’t even lift his leg to pee! He’s afraid of the couch pillows. How am I going to teach him to be an awesome Dog Ball player? I’m not even convinced he’s a real dog.
Me: He’s just a baby. He grew up in an apartment. He could learn so much about being a dog if you’d just teach him.
Shadow: OK, fine, I’ll teach him how to lift his leg to pee as soon as you get started on my memoir. Start it with, “Ever since I was a puppy, I knew I was destined for greatness. My Dad brought me home and gave me a ball. For years I didn’t know what to do with it, so I just chewed them up as soon as I got them. After my Mom moved in, I finally got the hang of it. Dad would throw the ball for miles, and I’d go catch it. I was FAST too! I was the fastest Dog Ball player in the Northwest. And I had fans everywhere. Mom would take me for walks and the humans would gush over me, my talents, my handsomeness. I had to sign autographs…”
Me: *raises eyebrows*
Shadow: Too much?
Me: You sound like the Kanye West of dogs.
Shadow: Ouch. OK, scratch that part about the fans and the autographs.
Me: Is that all?
Shadow: Yeah, for now. Type that up and I’ll let you know if there are revisions.
Me: Aren’t you forgetting something?
Me: Your brother?
Shadow: What about him?
Me: You promised to teach him something.
Shadow: Right. OK, get me the pages to revise; I’ll take Captain out back and show him how to pee.
**Stay tuned for the next edition of Conversations with Shadow**