It’s been a handful of days since Carrie and I took Shadow to the vet for the last time, and left without him. Although the hardest part (making the decision on Monday night to put him to sleep, the waiting on Tuesday, and finally taking him in) is over, now we’re in the longer process of getting used to life without him. There’s a void in the house and in our lives.
Eight years ago when Shadow and I moved from my parent’s house into a house of my own, my mom went through a similar adjustment to life without Shadow around. The words she wrote then still ring true today. Here they are:
I never thought I’d miss him so much… that big, black dog who shed all over my house, who had to go out in rain or snow and then be cleaned up after. I thought I’d enjoy the loss of those jobs. But, oh, how I miss that “BBD,” (ed: Shadow’s occasional nickname, standing for “Big Black Dog”) my “Shadow!”
He was often waiting at the threshold of my bedroom door in the morning for the first sound or movement that would clue him that I was awake. (Our bedroom was one of his “off-limits” rooms.) As soon as I would stir, he would be right at my bedside. (My bed IS right by the door, so it wasn’t TOO much of a violation!) As soon as he got his morning greeting he would go into the room next to our bedroom while I showered and dressed. Sometimes he would be right outside the bathroom door when I came out.
Next came breakfast. If I were eating cereal, I’d usually eat standing up to save my sitting time for things that really require sitting. Whether I was standing or sitting, Shadow would be right at my feet… just in case I dropped something or decided to share something with him!
After breakfast we would head for my sewing room/office where I read my Bible every morning. He’d be lying near my chair. If it were a washday, I’d be popping up and down changing loads, folding clothes, etc. If I was gone for too long, he would come to the room off the kitchen, “his” room, and lie there while I folded clothes. Then we’d be back to the sewing room/office. If I had ironing to do, as soon as I set up the ironing board, he would lie under it…on MY side! I’d always have to send him to the end of the board so I had a place to stand to do the ironing!
If there were anyone around the house that didn’t belong, he would go off barking…a car or truck he didn’t recognize the sound of, a deliveryman, meter-reader, mailman, etc. One day, two Jehovah’s Witnesses came to the door. Shadow met them at the door with his ferocious, protective bark! The youngest “witness” was off to the end of the porch in the blink of an eye! He left his braver partner near the door to talk and offer me the usual booklet. I decided Shadow was a great way to filter out salespeople and solicitors who weren’t brave enough to endure the challenge! It wasn’t unusual for me to go to the door and find people in the middle of the porch waiting to talk to me! They didn’t dare stand too close to the door! I don’t always hear the doorbell or things going on around the house, so Shadow would “hear” for me.
Lunch would find us in the kitchen with him again at my feet…just in case, you know! Sometimes I DO drop things or get full before I finish my sandwich. And he loves to share my cheese, apples and grapes! Good stuff! Healthy for both of us, right?
Sometimes, right after lunch, I might sit and read for a while. If I sat too long, he would whine at me, not to go outside, but to come into “his” room and lie on the bed to read so that he could lie next to me! He was only allowed on one bed, Stephen’s, and only by invitation! When I’d had the maximum amount of sitting I could take for a time, I established the habit of lying on Stephen’s bed to read, so Shadow could lie next to me. He liked it! What can I say? We enjoyed each other’s company. I’d say, “You want to go to your room, right?” And off he’d go!
We usually walked a mile a day. When it was really hot, we might walk before breakfast; otherwise we walked when I needed a break from sitting later in the morning. As soon as I put on my walking shoes or went for my key, he knew it was walking time and headed for the door!
Supper preparation again found us in the kitchen with Shadow at my feet…just in case! He knows the sound of the cellophane wrapper on the cheese and was up in a second when he heard that! (He also knows the sound of my stirring homemade granola while it’s cooling, another of his favorite things! That brought him to his feet, as well, and he’d get a nice chunk!)
One morning while doing my exercises, I was lying on my back in a room where he could come, and before I knew it I had the legs and chest of a 75-pound dog across me. Try to do your exercises like that! He just had to be a part of everything!
If Stephen was home in the evening, Shadow might stay with Stephen (he IS Stephen’s dog) or come in by me if I was working at my desk. If Stephen was NOT home, Shadow would stay with me for a while, but then whine until we’d go to his room to read!
When our granddaughter arrived on the scene, Shadow began showing extreme jealousy whenever I was holding Alethea. He would whine at me until I’d pet him, or tried to get his body or head between her and me! He has shown no aggression toward her… just wants his share of the attention!
What a dog! I find myself looking for him around every corner, expecting him to greet me every time I return home from somewhere and open the front door. He sure won my heart in his five years of life!