Thursday, March 7, 2019

Good-bye, Shadow






Tuesday I let Shadow out in the yard while I got dressed for a pancake supper at our friends' house. When I came downstairs, Andrew decided he wanted to go for a walk. Even though we didn't have much daylight left, I said agreed and bundled him up.

When we walked out through the garage, I saw Shadow motionless on the grass.

My mind couldn't put together what I was seeing. Why was she on the cold ground? Was it even Shadow, or could it be the other chocolate lab that frequents our yard? What was happening? I put Andrew back in the house in front of the TV, whispered to Margaret that we might have a problem, and headed back out.

Yes, it was our Shadow. She was warm to the touch but lifeless. Her ears still velvet. I tucked my cold hands into the soft fold where her tummy met her legs and thought of what to do next.

Shadow was 12 years old; her death should not have come as a surprise, but it did. She was still  energetic, with barely any gray and just a little stiffness in her hips. The day had not seemed unusual in her world. Extra banana from me while I made my morning smoothie. A treat from Andrew later. Up to her usual tricks, she even seized an opportunity when the cleaning lady left the dog food/mop closet ajar. I caught her with her head inside a large bag of Purina before I called her name sternly and she backed out of there. All markers of a very good day.

So it was hard to imagine that in the few minutes she was outside, she would just...die. I am grateful we didn't have to deal with the usual issues related to the slow decline of an aging dog, but it felt shocking. Just the day before she'd jumped up onto the couch next to me, hoping I wouldn't notice.

With a dog, you tend to think you'll have a chance to say goodbye. When you and the vet talk about options and quality of life, and you finally make the hard, hard decision to let her go. When you whisper into her ear, "It's okay. Good girl. Good girl. I love you."

But in this instance, I knelt on the grass, closed her eyes, and called Tim on a ski trip in Utah. It felt similar to another call I'd had to make to Tim 7 years ago, but it was without panic and terror. Tim was her favorite person.

I let Charlie out so he could see her, sniff her, and understand. Margaret had been having a hard day already when I told her and asked if she wanted to see her. "Why would I want to do something like that?" she snapped. A few minutes later she came, saw her, touched her, this beloved one who was so familiar to us that we each had our preferred zones on her body. I wasn't sure about bringing Andrew out, but I did. I explained that she died and wondered if this would help make Jack and Grandma Margaret's deaths less abstract.

Two neighbors lifted Shadow into the back of the car, on top of Jack's butter-soft blue twin bed sheet, and Andrew and I drove in the dark to the vet. We talked about how much we were going to miss her, and Andrew comforted me from the back seat as I cried.

Shadow had always been the quietest, calmest car companion, because nothing made her happier than to know her family was on a trip with her. We'd often arrive at a destination with her stirring from the floorboard for the very first time. Scenery? Who cared? She was with her people. She loved us and we loved her.

She was already named when we adopted her at nearly one year old. Within hours of knowing her, we realized "Shadow" suited her for the way she wanted to be near us at all times. In fact, tales of her mischief, which I've shared with you over the years, stemmed either from her voracious appetite or from her anxiety of not being with her us. Just search "Dog" on this blog and you will read tale after tale about Shadow.

Standing on the kitchen table at the old house? She needed a way to keep watch for our car. Eating 100 vitamin D tablets from the counter top? Well, I did have the audacity to take Charlie in the car (to the vet) thereby leaving her behind  FOREVER! Incessant barking heard through the neighborhood when Andrew and I went on walks? She had to let us know she was right there, available, waiting for us to come home. And if we could please keep little Charlie from humping her mercilessly, that would be helpful, too.

As long as we were with her, she was fine. I remember the time Jack, Margaret and their cousins came crying to me because Shadow had disappeared. Run away. Gone forever. Turns out she was stuck in an upstairs bathroom because she'd quietly gone in to keep one of them company and been left behind. So many memories. Of Easter baskets eaten, so that she pooped pastel foil for days. Of the way she convinced this work-at-home mom that her evening meal should be served no later than 1:30 p.m. Of Santa hats, doggie Halloween costumes, and her very own Snuggie. Of kayak rides, tennis balls, family hikes, and the time she dragged me though the air.

Dogs don't live long, and part of life is saying goodbye to them.

Of course we will miss more than just our precious, loyal family member and Snuggler-in-Chief. She takes with her a connection to our old home, our old lives, to Jack and Margaret's childhood. She lived two months longer than Jack did, which makes it a good run for dog, but a ludicrous one for a child.

Thank you for everything, Shadow.

Good girl. Good girl. I love you.

27 comments:

Sandra Jerich said...

As always, you have articulated loss in such a beautiful and accessible way. I am so very sorry for your family's loss.

Unknown said...

typing through tears....Loved reading all of the happy memories with Shadow.

bobbie said...

I am so very sorry for you and your families loss.
Please consider yourselves very hugged ~
bobbie

A said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. We truly don't deserve dogs. Shadow sounds like one of the greats.

Denise said...

Oh Anna, I'm so sorry. What a beautiful tribute you wrote to Shadow. It is so clear how very loved she was. Wishing you and your family comfort in the days ahead.

ferrisfam said...

So so very sorry....this is a beautiful, thank you for sharing with us. Thinking of you all, many prayers.

Anonymous said...

Truly sorry for your loss of Shadow. Sending love to your family.

Gigi said...

I am so very sorry to hear of Shadow's passing.

NanaDiana said...

I hope I am allowed to shed a tear or two over this post. It brings the reality of losing my own pet(s) over the years to the forefront...and I feel like I am reliving some losses all over again. Hard to lose a pet but just a shadow of the angst felt over losing a child. God bless you- xo Diana

tt said...

Oh our furry ones.. How quickly they find a special place in our hearts.. How brief and wonderful their time with us.. How lucky to have those memories when they're gone.. Thanks for telling us about Shadow and bringing us along this bittersweet episode..

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss. I think Shadow knew it was best to go quietly and quickly. Praying for your family and feeling like Shadow has been reunited with Jack. Hugs, Theresa

Cynthia said...

This is so painful!! I'm so sorry my friend. I love you.

Cecily Bornemann said...

Anna, I’m so sorry that Shadow passed away but you have so much love for shadow. Her memory will live on forever. I believe pets go to heaven so you’lol see Shafow again.

Anne B said...

I'm sorry for the loss of Shadow. That is shocking that she passed so suddenly. I'm sorry that Tim wasn't there to help physically and emotionally. I'm glad Margaret came around and said her goodbyes. Hugs!

Jennifer Reath said...

So sorry for the loss of your sweet Shadow. Love to you all. XOXO

Lisa Ancona-Roach said...

I am so sorry, Anna. I'm reading this at work trying not to weep. Love and hugs to you all. The Heaven I believe in has our beloved pets waiting for us to join them someday...and now Jack has Shadow at his side.

twingles said...

Oh, so sorry...I get what you are saying about the connection to your "old" lives. You gave her a good life and home.

Anonymous said...

Never should have read this while I was at work; I'm sitting here crying now. I'm so sorry for your loss. In some respects, I feel like she did you a favor by passing on her own, so you didn't have to make that difficult decision that all dog lovers dread. Lord knows that with all the loss you've suffered, you deserved that kindess.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

So sorry for your loss. ((Hugs))

Jill said...

There is never an easy way to lose a dog. Quickly or drawn out, the good bye is heartbreaking. Good girl indeed.

Jeanie said...

I can't tell you how sorry I am that you lost your beloved Shadow. My heart is shattered. I'm a huge dog lover and have lost many over the years, the last one in September. Prayers for you and your family, and dog speed to Shadow.

Anonymous said...

What a heartfelt tribute to Shadow; it's so eloquent and beautiful. I'm very sorry for your loss; losing a pet is so hard. Prayers to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

So very sorry for the loss of your beloved Shadow. xo ~suburbanmom2

Kristin said...

I so hope she is with Jack.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry. We just lost our 12 year old yellow lab who was a lot like your Shadow. It is hard to lose a beloved pet especially one who has brought such joy, companionship and comfort. I am sure Shadow felt the love from your family every day.

Anonymous said...

So sorry. So precious!

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. And thank you for writing this very sweet tribute to her. Goodbye Shadow! Well loved dog.