A Dog Can Capture Your Heart
First of two parts
Many years ago, I grudgingly accepted the idea of getting a new dog to replace the one we had to put to sleep after he got injured.
Unlike people who shell out hundreds of dollars for a canine, we found ours for free through The Denver Post classifieds.
Only two members of the litter remained when we arrived at the owners’ home. Everyone agreed on the black Lab-Chesapeake mix with a touch of white on her underside.
While I liked the dog, what I didn’t realize was Shadow would wind up being my dog.
The love affair started the day I headed out for a two-mile jog. Since she was bouncing her head up and down and letting out little yelps, I asked Shadow if she wanted to come. She did.
There hadn’t been time to pick up a collar and a leash, so I just kept an eye on her as we ran. It proved to be effortless oversight. With her little legs whirling, she stayed faithfully by my side.
We soon acquired a leash. As Shadow gained more weight en route to her full 70-pounds-plus stature, it felt sometimes like she were running and taking me along for the ride.
Nearly five years after Shadow came to live with us, we decided to move back east from Colorado.
A friend who was handy with tools and such rigged up a board to give her a sturdier seating arrangement during the 1,300-mile trip. It also served as an anchor for her leash to keep her from wandering.
However, it couldn’t prevent her from panting and slobbering over the rear passenger window, which we had to regularly clean to keep it from getting too cloudy.
Time to Run
We all survived the trip and Shadow took to her new surroundings, which spanned four rental homes over the next six years.
At our final destination, thanks to some fencing provided by the landlord and help from an ambitious grandson, I was able to put up a fence around the small backyard to allow her room to roam.
What I remember most about the three years we spent there was how much Shadow loved our daily jogs (or walks, if I didn’t have the energy to run).
In fact, I didn’t need a clock to know when noon came. About 15 minutes before both hands struck 12, Shadow started whining and jumping up and down. She knew it was time to go.
Finding a Dog Home
When we moved again, this time to Louisville, we couldn’t take her with us. There were no pets allowed in our apartment complex. We thought the best place for her would be at a daughter’s house in the country.
It wasn’t. Shadow mooned over being away from us. She wouldn’t eat, was listless and was clearly going downhill.
After much searching, we found her a home at a friend’s backyard close to our apartment. I could still take her walking, and the friend had a dog who became Shadow’s best buddy.
The end came just shy of Shadow’s 14th birthday. Her legs gave out, to the point where when we headed down a level sidewalk she would fall over.
When we took her to the vet to have her put to sleep, we accepted the vet’s offer to bury Shadow on her farm.
That was 25 years ago. I never got another dog because I couldn’t go through losing another one. Amazing how an animal can capture your heart.