I cried when I read the email from my Mom.
I cried again when I saw her blog post.
I was actually surprised to be so upset. I'm not there to notice that he's gone. He's not been in my life anymore since I moved away. But he's part of my childhood and he's part of my family.
I've never known another dog like Shadow, and probably never will. He was almost human. Or super-human. Or super-dog. I guess we just always kinda thought he might go on forever and always be a part of the family. He was just so happy. But he was very old, and it would be cruel to let him keep hurting.
After we moved to Oregon when I was a kid, I wanted a dog in the worst way. My parents were tentative about the idea. I scanned the classified ads regularly until I saw an ad for a Border Collie in need of a home.
"Please, Dad?" I asked...
He wasn't to sure. Border Collies are high-energy dogs and we didn't exactly have a big farm for him to run. But he agreed that I could call on the ad and we would see about him.
I just had a really strong feeling that we needed to go see this dog. But after I talked to the owner, who needed to find a home for him because she was moving away, my parents were even more unsure. He only had three legs, you see. Dad was uncertain how that might affect his ability to get around.
But we went to see him where he was being boarded at a vet's office. As soon as we saw him, we were all smitten. He didn't bark like the other dogs when we came up to the kennel. He just sat patiently and waited for us. We took him out for and walk. He was gentle, calm, patient, intelligent. He didn't even know about his missing leg and was quite agile without it. The bonus was that he couldn't jump up on anyone, he'd just put a paw on a person's thigh instead.
We took him home. He settled in quickly. For the first few days, we didn't even know if he could bark. He took it as his job to guard and protect us, but he was not obnoxious about it. He barked when a car he didn't recognize came in the driveway and that was all. He checked on the animals and babysat wayward chicks without hurting them. He chased off varmints and patrolled the trees for squirrels. He accompanied me every morning and evening while I fed and milked my goats.
I can't remember ever being angry with him like I have been with other dogs.
We grew up with him. He was part of our family.
Every time I've gone to visit my family, he's been overjoyed to see me. He never forgot a friend in his life. Every time I've left my parent's house, I've wondered if I'll ever see him again.
There were many times that we expected him to just not wake up one morning, but he just kept going. He had a job to do, and he was determined not to give it up, no matter how tired he got.
So we had to tell him it was time to go. He could be done.
But we'll miss him terribly.
(More stories and pictures of Shadow in this post my Mom wrote about him last spring.)