Monday, August 29, 2022

Shelby's Counterpart - Jack

Long time readers will recall that the Golden Retriever Rescue back in November of 2020, originally asked us to foster Shelby. However, it was later learned that she had a companion, a Black Lab named Jacket, that she'd come into the shelter with. Lab Rescue had been contacted about Jack, but had not responded. Since we happen to foster for both rescues, and not wanting to split up a pair, the Golden Retriever Rescue took them both.  We always thought that we'd find someone who loved both breeds, and would happily agree to adopt both Jack and Shelby - We even had them 'cross-posted' on Lab Rescue's website, and there was a lowered adoption fee. But aside from the one failed placement in the spring of 2021, nothing ever came from it. 

A concern I have always had in the back of my mind was 'what if something happened to Shelby?' Jack and Shelby were not so much a bonded pair, as they were companions. I'd thought that Shelby is/was the only other dog that Jack loved unconditionally. 

Jack is a good and well mannered boy. However, he can be what a friend on the board of the rescue described as 'prickly.' It's a perfect word for Jack who can sometimes be moody and prickly around other dogs - Remember Jack's bossiness is why Todd's ear is now wonky. 

~Jack and White Boy taking a nap, an un-prickly moment~

All of that aside, if Shelby was the love of Jack's canine life, as far as people that Jack loves, hands down, his heart belongs to Carl. Now, don't misunderstand, Jack doesn't totally exclude me, he's happy to see me when I come home, and he always does what I ask of him. But when Carl comes home, it's happiness and joy overload x's 10. Jack also knows that when he sees Carl, it's time for another favorite thing, ball. Jack is hands down, the best retriever of tennis balls that we've ever had. It all starts by his going outside and sitting by the steps waiting for Carl. When the game starts, he brings the balls back and sets them down for the fun to continue. 

~Jack and Carl the day they met in November 2020. The start of their friendship~

Now that you know a little more about Jack, it takes me back to my concerns about his future without Shelby. And because Jack was still a foster dog, the Rescue, who owned him, had things they needed to decide.

The first question was: Should Jack be turned over to Lab Rescue for them to find a new home?  The answer to this was 'no' for reasons that I won't go into. The Foster-home-coordinator and I agreed on that issue.

The next question was: Should Jack be made available for adoption via the Golden Retriever Rescue? The answer to this was also 'no.' I really felt that the chances of Jack finding a home via the Golden Retriever Rescue, was probably not going to happen. 

The questions that were yes: How we feel about Jack. Of course we love and adore him. And, even though Jack is not particularly connected to me, he is to Carl and we both want what's best for him; that's for him to be loved, safe and cared for which goes without saying. 

So, what was the best answer for Jack? It didn't really require a lengthy discussion.

The board of the Golden Retriever Rescue generously voted to waive Jack's adoption fee. And so after 645 days as a foster dog with us, minus the week he and Shelby spent 'adopted' before being returned to us, Jack officially becomes ours. His adoption contract is signed and goes into the mail today. It's a bit of a bittersweet moment. 

~Shelby & Jack's adoption contracts, one now signed~

But I know with all certainty that it's how it should be, and given everything, it's how it was meant to be. ❤

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Shelby's Final Chapter

Below is the account of Shelby's last weekend with us. Before those details fade, I just wanted to have a record of her last days. I understand if you don't want to read it, but for me, it's important to have that part of her story told. 

And as always, thank-you for letting me share Shelby with all of you, and for sharing her loss with us. Shelby is greatly missed. But at what I'm guessing is more than 14 years old, she had a long life. And because of her gentle and easy going nature, and despite the circumstances that led to her and Jack being taken to a shelter, I have to think and hope that she knew she was wanted and was loved, especially by us. 

Shelby's last chapter began the morning I left for my weekend away to Smith Mountain Lake. I noticed swelling on Shelby's back left-hock. Knowing what I do about this kind of thing, I worried that it was bone cancer. Even though our regular vet was out of town, I was able to get an appointment to have it looked at by another vet when I returned. Shelby was in good spirits, up and around almost as much as she always was, and had a good appetite, so I tried not to worry ....  too much. 

By Friday, the day of her appointment, I was holding onto that little bit of hope that maybe I was wrong. 

~At the vet, posing for an x-ray on her leg~

Sadly, I was not. It was bone cancer. 

~The x-ray and the diagnosis~

Shelby was really tired from the appointment, but she ate her dinner and slept soundly in the hallway overnight not moving from her spot. Saturday morning we helped her to get up and outside, and fed her breakfast. Afterwards, she came into the office and laid down on the floor. It would be the last time that Shelby would get up at all.

By Sunday afternoon, we'd tried several times to get Shelby onto her feet, but she kept collapsing and wouldn't stand and we were unable to get her to relieve herself. I increased her pain medication in hopes it would help. It didn't. I was again feeling that ache in my heart left by Jake, but I tried to remain hopeful. 

On my way to work on Monday, the calls to a vet began. My vet was still out of town, but I held onto hope that maybe "Fill-in-vet" could see her, but she couldn't. I called 5 different offices before calling an emergency vet who had room to see her. 

~A tile at the vets office, taken as we waited to be seen~

When we were given Shelby's diagnosis of bone cancer, I'd said several times, and I still believe that Shelby was keeping that secret, as well as one about the amount of pain she was in - And when we officially found out that last Friday that she had bone cancer, and we knew her secret, she put it all out there, and it all fell apart. Those precious days of grace that I so hoped for, that I always hope for, were not to be. So, we said good-bye to Shelby on August 15th.

It's only been 12 days since Shelby left us. I am still missing her. She had a cute little 'old lady' personality. She become silly and playful, when we'd trim her nails, or just when I'd scratch her back or give her tired muscles a massage. True to her golden retriever breed, she loved her meals. I'd say to her, 'it's time to eat,' and it always made me smile watching her eager and happy little gallop down the hallway towards the kitchen. 

She always knew she had to go outside afterwards, and before going out, she always looked at me with a total understanding because I'd always say to her, "I'll help you up the ramp to come back inside when you're ready." And she'd always be there, waiting for me by the ramp to help her walk up it and get inside. I still look for her at those times. Shelby truly was a gift. And I am beyond grateful for the time we got to know Shelby and love her for the last chapters of her life. ❤

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Last Trip of the Summer

Because of my time off work this past spring, it kept me from making my annual pilgrimage to Tennessee. So, instead I decided to do a couple of weekend trips. The first as you know was to see good friends in Smith Mountain Lake. The second, was this past weekend to see 'retired Navy brother' and his family in Chesapeake Virginia. It was a fun visit and so good to see everyone and catch up. 

~Retired Navy brother's cats, Petey and Bubba~ 

Because we were so close to the ocean, we decided to end our trip with a little splurge of an overnight stay at Virginia Beach. 

~The famed King Neptune statue on the boardwalk~

Normally, I'm not a beach person. It had been about 5 years since I was at the beach but I was reminded that like Tennessee, it's peaceful in its own ways. 

The overcast skies and the threat of rain cut down on the amount of people that were on the beach. I think that made it a bit more relaxing to not have the crowds that are there this time of year.
But for this non-beach lover, I have to say that I really did enjoy the sounds of the waves, the smell of the salty sea air, the feel the warm ocean and smooth sand beneath my feet as we walked along the shore. And I enjoyed watching the sea-birds too. 

We took a little time to sit and people-watch on the boardwalk, which in the short time we were there we realized it offers an eye-full of things to observe, and that's all I'll say about that. 😎

~View from our room of the boardwalk~

We also really loved the view from our hotel room, and seeing fishing boats and cargo ships off in the distance as night fell. 

Weekend trips have a way of ending much too quickly. But it's always good to be home, because I always miss the dogs when I go away. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

A Sad Good-Bye to Shelby

They say that the worst part about owning a dog or a cat is having to say goodbye, because that goodbye always feels like it comes far too soon. I can say without a doubt, that it does. And when it comes just a month after you've said good-bye to another beloved dog or cat, it stings that much more. 

On Monday, we said a sad and a bit unexpected good-bye to Shelby. Just as I did with Jake, I'll post the story of what led to her loss in a few days. But I will tell you that it was bone cancer that took this sweet girl from us. 

Shelby and Jack came to us in November of 2020 from a rural shelter. Though not a bonded pair, they were companions to one another - I'd said for a long time that Shelby was the only other dog that Jack loved more than himself and it always showed. Shelby was the opposite of Jack. Easy going, friendly with people, dogs and cats. She was well-mannered, eager to please and she loved attention and was always smiling. Beautiful inside and out at about 14 years old, she had a silly and playful side that shined through right until the very end. And given what I saw from her the last few days with us, I'd have to add brave, stoic, and courageous too. 

This sweet girl leaves a big empty place in our home and hearts - Not just with us, but with Jack too. Our candle has been lit since yesterday to help Shelby find her way to the Rainbow Bridge. And, I hold onto that hope and belief of Shelby's restored health and someday, a reunion with her and all those who have gone before her. 

Saturday, August 13, 2022


I found myself 'unplugged' last weekend when I went to see longtime friends at Smith Mountain Lake, which is a large reservoir in the Roanoke Region of Virginia, by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Our friends have been on a bit of a journey (re)building their home - So it was my chance to see and enjoy their beautiful home nestled on a cove of the lake. My visit that included delicious homemade meals using their garden and a sight seeing and fun boat ride, could not have been more restful and enjoyable with them, and their 3 dogs. And would you believe I only only took one photo from the guest room - How was that for being unplugged? 

But does it count that I took this photo on my way home to show Carl just how inexpensive gas was in that corner of Virginia?  (nearly .50 cents cheaper)

Speaking of Carl, he of course took great care of the crew while I was away. At least that's what Daisy (below) told me. 

But before I skipped town for the weekend, Todd was finally taken to the groomer and is sporting a much cooler look. 
Bleary eyed Max is too. He was really worn out afterwards. 

So, onward through August we go. We have one more weekend trip lined up before the end of summer, so I'm hoping the nice and sunny weather will continue.
I hope you are having nice and sunny weather too!