Meet Samwise, the dog who came after...
Shadow passed away in early 2017, two months shy of his fourth birthday.
I know I'll be writing more about him in the future. He was just such a huge influence on how I currently train, see, and relate to dogs that, as I continue to write and learn, his name cannot help but to pop up from time to time.
For now, however, I'll just say that it seems, at times, that Shadow came into this world only to help me and my sons through a dark time, back into sunlight.
He made us all laugh...at a time when laughter was elusive.
He laid beside me for hours on end as I dealt with headaches and withdrawal and depression, and then forced me back up and out into the world, led me back to people.
And then, one day, as though he felt his job here on earth was complete, he simply left.
Shadow died of a very aggressive cancer - hemangiosarcoma. Quite literally...one day he was fine; the next he was not.
His death compelled me to begin studying and researching canine health issues. I have already begun, and will continue, my studies and certification in canine health, welfare, and nutrition because I now believe that food - or what is currently thought of as dog food - is one of the factors (over-vaccination and over-medicating being others) involved in the ever increasing rates of cancer and other diseases in our canine companions.
His life - the memories of the short life he had with us, at least - continue to inspire me to learn more, to observe more, to train better, to try to understand canine minds rather than to control and "dominate" them.
If I could talk to him just one more time, I would say:
Shadow boy, thank you for the patience you granted me as I was going through my "I want to be a dog trainer" phase. I apologize for that one time I hooked you up to an e-collar and had you bucking like a rodeo bull. Oh...and also for that one misguided occasion that I tried to "apha-roll" you...I'm laughing my butt off right now because I can still remember the WTF! look you gave me.
I didn't have a clue back then. I'm just lucky that you were a most forgiving friend.
I want you to know - I hope you can see - that I've evolved; that I threw that bloody e-collar in the bin and that I'm forever over my Cesar Milan phase. I learned so much with you, and I continue to learn more because of you.
I really wish I could introduce you to my new sidekick...Samwise...the Golden who somehow came into our lives just a few months after I swore - in grief - that I'd never be able do it again.
I think you would like Sam. He looks like you (eerily so) and is just as goofy as you once were. Benefiting from all that you taught me, he is thriving.
Even in death, it seems, you shadow us.
Still missing you, goober.