Monday, May 6, 2013

For My Broken Heart

In February of 2000 I began having dreams of a puppy.  Our family had dogs when I was a growing up, but I had never had a dog as an Adult.  Suddenly, I am dreaming about this Very Specific Dog out of the blue.  It plagued me to such an extent that I began to go to shelters in every place I worked.  I was a commission sales person and traveled for my job.  I was looking for a Puppy In My Dreams.  I didn't expect to find it right away.  I tracked her down in Aiken, SC.  She was adorable.

She was so tiny that she fit in my hands.  She was found outside an office building in the downtown area all by herself.  Hand to God, I don't know how one of those employees didn't snatch her up then and there.  But, I think she was destined to be mine.  So, that is how that happened.  Anyway, she was only six weeks old and precious as could be.  I paid the fee, signed the documents, and took her home.  Shelby.  The Princess Dog.

She was smart as a whip.  She learned commands easily.  Sit.  Down. Stay.  Roll Over.  She wanted to please.  The first time someone threw a ball that dog was hooked.  Ball was her new favorite pastime.  She could play Ball forever.  Was there anything more important on earth than playing ball?  I think not.  Running second to ball was Chase.  You chase me. I chase you.  It really didn't matter.  The game could turn on a dime.  Shelby was the Master of "The Pivot."  She also had the advantage of being able to run under small places to gain the advantage.  One smart cookie, that one.

Last year, she was diagnosed with cancer in her front leg.  The only thing the vet knew to do was to amputate the leg.  It was an agonizing decision.  However, she recovered amazingly well.  She was walking the same day.  Ball was no longer a part of her daily life.  She could no longer pivot on a dime.  She would try and fall.  However, she would bounce right back up and keep going.  It was a lesson to anyone who watched about how dogs don't wallow there - and a smart person doesn't either!  She inspired me every day.  Her gait, post-surgery, resembled a bunny hop.  She did better running than walking, and was still a force with which to be reckoned.

About two months ago she stopped eating regularly.  We have been having Dog Problems Galore here.  Our other older dog, Molly,  is in Kidney Failure and also not eating on any sort of regular basis.   Shelby seemed to be just Persnickety about her food.  So, we began a campaign of buying new food to tempt her palate.  It simply didn't occur that there was more going on.  She would start to eat again... and then stop.  The Stops got worse.  She started losing weight.  This was getting serious.  We bought canned food.

Last night she stopped moving around altogether.  Mom and started feeling around on her and the shoulder area where her leg was removed was noticeably distended.  Whenever we even lightly touched it, Shelby yelped in pain.  Mom says to me, "Has it been like this long?"

"It can't have been too long because we both hold her and rub on her fairly frequently."

Cancer.  When it comes back, it comes with a vengeance.  It had been working on her from the inside out.  We just misread the signs.  Now, the outward signs are coming fast and furious.  This morning that protuberance is Significantly Larger than it was last night.  It is growing at a phenomenal rate.  It is doing what Cancer does.  When I was sitting with My Sweet Girl this morning, I could tell that she had trouble breathing at one point.  Given that they amputated her leg out to the shoulder.... that means the tissue extending into the lymph nodes was likely affected.  And it spread into the chest cavity.

While Mom was at her doctor appointment, I picked her up and carried her outside and laid her under the tree in the shade.  She enjoyed all of the smells.  I wanted her to have good memories.

Then we packed her up and took her to the vet's office and said our Goodbyes.  I love you Shelby.  You will always be my Princess Dog.  Please keep my daddy company and  make him throw the ball for you in Heaven.  I will see you when I see you.  You'll always be My Best Girl.


  1. I am so sorry!! Nothing worse than saying goodbye to a faithful friend. I still remember the final days of our dogs, and it sucked to make that trip to the vet.
    Maybe this will help. My grandfather died right before we had to put down the black lab that had been my companion since I was in grade school. A couple nights later, I dreamed I was walking with her. We came to a stream, and on the other side was my grandfather. My dog ran across a small bridge and joined him. He patted her head and waved at me. Somehow, that brought me peace. Dogs really do go to Heaven.

  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. Dogs really are man and woman's best friend.

  3. Sorry for your loss. Shelby looks so pretty, even in old age.

    Sounds like she was such a great dog.

  4. It is so hard to lose a beloved pet. I am sorry for your loss of sweet, sweet Shelby. Thinking of you. :)

  5. So sorry to hear about your loss :( I've never been a big 'animal lover' until I met my wife and her cat, Jasmine, adopted me.

    There is nothing like a good friend, whether they be human or animal.

  6. First of all, dragon hugs. I feel your pain like you have no idea. I love my dogs as if they were my blood. I've been there and I've experienced the difficult choice to let them go to spare them more pain. We get so close to them that when each of them has died, a bit of us die too. They are all special in their own way and all of them have left us lessons of courage, joy and love. I've said many times that if they come to welcome me when I pass away, I'll be more than happy. Mother Dragon lost her dearest dog to cancer and I lost one of mine to cerebellar dysplasia. We take comfort in the knowledge that we made their life the best they could have. That we loved them as much as they can be loved and that they had a good life. And they keep living in our hearts. All of them.

  7. Oh My God...

    I am SO sorry...

    Oh, no...

    You are in my thoughts, Robin...



  8. Robin
    I can hardly read this, My heart actually bleeds for you. At times I think I'm rather a hard-nose about people but I can't bear to hear about the suffering of animals. Dogs have the most pleading eyes and it's so sad when we can't do anything to help them.
    My heart hurts with you.

  9. Alex ~ I believe that, too. I really do think that my dad is taking care of My Girl until the day comes that I can be with her. Of course, he has quite a pack right now. He has several pets from childhood in his care, too. He is a regular Dog Whisperer.

    Tracy ~ You couldn't be more right about that. They are the most loyal of friends.

    Jay ~ She was the sweetest dog. She loved her people.

    Rebecca ~ Thank you, Rebecca. It has been a hard day!

    Mark ~ Until a pet adopts you, you simply don't know what that love is like. It does change everything, though.

    Al ~ I do think that they keep living in our hearts. Just like the people that we love do. They are family. Knowing that we loved them every day is a great comfort.

    Shoes ~ Yes, it has been a *Waterworks Day* here. So much crying. I know that you know what that is like...

    Manzanita ~ I know just what you mean. I am a sucker for an animal in pain, too. We could have kept Shelby alive longer, but it would have been selfish. She was in terrible pain and there was no good outcome for her. Sometimes the hard choice for you is the right one for the dog. But, I will certainly miss her. Before she got sick again she was spunky. That is how I want to remember her!

    Thank you for the kind words everyone. It has been a very hard day. Your thoughtfulness does help.

  10. Robin, What a beautiful post and tribute to your beautiful dog. I'm so sorry. I'm glad Shelby had such a wonderful family to live with on earth.

  11. Very sorry to hear this...never an easy thing. People who do not own pets do not get it.

    I am glad you made the hard choice-I've seen too many people put animals through all sorts of treatments (chemotherapy for a cat!?) because they cannot say goodbye.

    Hang in there!

  12. Oh Robin, so so sad for you. I'm crying right along with you!

    It is so not fair that our dogs age so much quicker than we do. Your life has been touched so many times by cancer that it just seems like a cruelty beyond any reasoning.

    Thank you for sharing your lovely photos and thoughts of your Princess, even as you mourn this loss. I admire your ability to hold it together and function at times it would seem impossible. You really are so strong and those around you certainly benefit from that. Your Shelby and your other pets are lucky to have you. I just love that you followed your heart and found the dog that you were meant to have.

  13. Linda ~ I am just glad we got Shelby!

    Larry ~ True enough. It was a hard choice. Amputating her leg was a hard choice. I couldn't put her through any more. She is now walking around on all four and playing ball.

    Jasmine ~ I have been crying for two days now. May is just a terrible month for me. My dad died in May, too. My aunt died last year (thankfully NOT in May). I sat here crying just reading these comments, blew my nose, and took in the biggest whiff of canned dog food. Shelby didn't get to each much of that stuff, but she did enjoy it for her last few meals. I know that is her way of reassuring me that she isn't gone. She is simply where I can't see her. However, she will always be around me and waiting for me. She always did look after her people.

  14. Robin: I don't have the words. I have endured that nightmare many times, and dog lovers agonize. Just this morning, Carol and I were talking about two of my past favorites and it felt like they were still with me. I believe they are. The happiness they gave me contributed to a large part of my personality. RIP, Shelby. I am so sorry, my friend.

  15. Oh honey. I am so, so sorry. I remember you writing about Shelby when she lost her leg. I have only had one animal in my life, our cat we had for nine years who we had to say goodbye to in February. I couldn't even write about it, and I am sure we weren't quite as close to our madam as you were to your Shelby. When we lost our Winkie, someone said to me; "There is an extra star shining in the Heavens tonight." Now there is another.

  16. JJ ~ I think you are right. I think they watch over us from Heaven, just like our people do. And I do know that you know what I am going through. Thank you for the kind words.

    Liza ~ I am sure that losing your Winkie was every bit as painful as this. A loved pet is a loved pet. They are simply a part of the family and the loss is acute. However, just like when any loved one passes, we mourn and go on. I don't blame you at all for not being able to write about it. It is hard. I love your friend's take on the situation. Yes, Heaven is shining a bit brighter. Love that.

  17. Poor little animal. I hate when that happens. Cancer... we can put a couple of monkey on the moon but cancer is still a part of our lives. I've got twosweet little cats (well, not exacly little), three years old, and I dread the day one of them kicks the bucket. They're the best of freinds, you see. Well, carpe diem!

  18. I'm so sorry for your loss. She sounds like such a wonderful dog and I'm sure the memories will be with you forever. (((BIG HUGS))) to you. I know this is a hard one and wish you comfort as you grieve, Robin.

  19. I'm feeling for you. They leave a hole in the family when they're gone.

  20. I know this pain all too well. My heart hurts for you.

  21. Oh no! This made me sad. The last time I owned a pet was when I was twenty. I watched a car as it sped by and hit my puppy, he died in my arms. Worst feeling ever! I'm so sorry for your loss. :(

  22. I went through this with my cat. He'd been my roommate for years and years and then one day he just stopped eating. He'd stare at the food, but not eat it. Then he stopped drinking. That's when I noticed the cancer in his throat that had begun creeping up his tongue. He couldn't move his tongue enough to eat or drink anymore, so I'd spend 20 minutes squirting water into his mouth until he wasn't thirsty. In the end I had to take him to the vet and say goodbye. It was hard, but making him live like that with all the suffering would have been cruel.

  23. Oh my - this post has me blubbering like an idiot. I couldn't even read the last paragraph! I'm so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is like losing a family member. This is such a beautiful tribute to her...must go find Kleenex now.

  24. I'm so sorry, Robin. Our pets manage to find the center of our hearts, staying there forever. Shelby was a beauty and a fighter. I'm glad you both have many good memories.
    Virtual hugs to you.


  25. Robin,

    I am so sorry. This pain is familiar to me as well. It hurts and you'll always miss them but I can say that it gets "better". I still miss my first dog and she died when I was eight. That was a long time ago. Prayers and thoughts to you and all who knew Shelby the Princess. She lived a wonderful life from what you've told me. Bask in the fact that YOU gave her that chance at a wonderful life.


  26. I am so sorry for your pain. I look at my little girl, Patches, and know how heartbroken I would be. Just a slight health problem and I fear the worst. I don't understand the evil of cancer in animals, so horrific.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  27. Grumpster ~ Never fear, I got your meaning. They are the best of friends!

    M.J. ~ Thank you. Hugs are always appreciated.

    Susan ~ They certainly do.

    Yvonne ~ I can't imagine witnessing something like that. Violent death is horrific.

    Memphis Steve ~ I am beginning to understand with animals that when they stop eating something is *wrong.* They haven't taken a sudden dislike to their food. However, you are right about only being able to go to "great lengths" for so long before you know it is for YOU and not your pet. If they have no chance of getting better, it is best to say goodbye and let their suffering end.

    Kimberly ~ I always end up needing a tissue each time I respond to comments, so don't feel too badly about it. I am notorious for crying over every sad animal story I read, too. Why? Because it is SAD.

    Robyn ~ Thank you. She will always be in my heart:)

    Jen ~ She did have a pretty good life. If I were a dog, I wouldn't have minded being Shelby. Dogs live in our hearts forever. I still miss our childhood dog, too. That is just how it all works!

    Yolanda ~ Patches sounds wonderful. Just love her up while she is here. That is the best we can do by our pets:)

  28. You've just made me cry - I'm such a sucker for pet stories. I'm so soft-hearted that my parents wouldn't let me watch "Lassie" when I was little because I'd cry during every episode. I'm so sorry for your Shelby, but you gave her a very good life while you could.


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