Monday, July 2, 2007 angel

Today is one of the most difficult days of my life. Today, we let Shelby go to heaven. It has been an extremely sad weekend - absorbing the news that she had rectal cancer, and that they found a spot on one of her lungs. Steve researched the web all weekend, looking for any positive news, something, anything that would give us hope that we could make Shelby better. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful. All of the possible treatments would only give her 10 more months on average, and that isn't considering the spot on her lung, or her quality of life. After speaking with our two new vets and the surgeon that we were referred to, we decided that the complications outweighed the good, and that keeping her alive would be more of a selfish thing for us. So, we decided to let Shelby go with dignity. We went for a walk this morning, gave her lots of treats all day, she sunbathed on the driveway this afternoon, and even played tug with Steve before leaving tonight. We stopped by Jack's for a hamburger and then onto the vet. Typically she immediately starts shaking all over, but tonight...she didn't. She was still anxious, but not like she usually is - I like to think that maybe she knew.

For everyone who knows me, you know how much my dogs mean to me. I have never treated my dogs, as pets...rather they are my children. I got Shelby when she was 6 weeks old, and she has been spoiled from the beginning. I soon realized that she wouldn't bark all night if I just let her sleep with me - and that is where is all started. She was a smart dog, and though she was only a couple months old, she never made a mistake in my bed. Now the same was not true when she was in her kennel. She hated being confined, and ALWAYS made a mistake in it and howled, regardless if she was in there for 5 minutes or 5 hours. I think she did it to upset me (and it worked).

Shelby was always a trooper, and a very good friend to me and other dogs. Though she loved being an only child and the constant attention, she accepted her new brother, Spencer. She had enjoyed 5 years of getting whatever she wanted, but she quickly found out that having a little brother who followed her everywhere, and was home all day with her when I was at work wasn't such a bad thing. He had to prove that he wouldn't make mistakes though, so she was

lucky enough to have the other pillow in my bed to herself for awhile longer.

Shelby was a very lovable and patient dog. She let me dress her up for Halloween, and even sat on Santa's lap one Christmas. She has posed for countless photos, and has been on my photo
Christmas cards for the past 11 years. As I said, she has been my child, and being the proud mommy - I wanted to always show her off and have her be included. So much so, that on her 7th birthday, I threw her a
birthday party with all of her doggie pals back in Peoria. Everyone wore hats and snacked on treats, and Shelby loved the attention!

Since she was such a big part of my life, she accompanied me everywhere - be it on walks, errands, road trips, camping trips, and of course the big move to Alabama. In fact, I hated to leave her behind and can recall many a days where she waited for me in my car while I played golf (I promise it wasn't that hot and she was in the shade), or was in a bar at night. She has been a great companion to me.

Shelby has been with me through several job changes, many boyfriends and tearful break-ups, my move to Alabama, and most recently with the birth of Bennett. Her love for me has never wavered, nor has mine for her. In fact, even Steve loves her tremendously, and he has only known her for several years. At first he tried to convince me that she was a dog and need not be on the furniture or in our bed, but he later succumbed and realized that she wasn't going to change.

A wise friend told me today that dogs are with you for a certain period of your life to serve a purpose. He said his theory is supported by the strange similarity that my friend Chelsea and I have had with our dogs. We both basically had these dogs for a decade of our lives, then lost them within months of having our first baby. He thinks our dogs were there to help us through the period of our lives where we were single, going through a lot and really needed a constant companion to guide us, watch over us and protect us. After we got married and had our babies, our dogs felt as though we were settling in and moving on to the next step and they have done their jobs. It is ok for them to go on because they know that we are going to be ok. It makes
me incredibly sad to think about it like this, but it is strangely comforting.

I will remember Shelby forever, and I pray that when she arrives in heaven, that she will continue to watch over us, and be our guardian angel.

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