In Memory of Shadow

Shadow was his name because he followed us everywhere.

It was 2 months before our wedding and we had decided to adopt a German Shepherd as our wedding gift to each other. Little did we know how much this dog would enrich our lives over the next 11 years. He moved with us from NY to Maine then to Washington state and then to Georgia.

He was a poor excuse for an almost 1 year-old German Shepherd, tall and scrawny and probably had not seen a brush since the day he was born. He also had a 3 inch over bite and was extremely nervous in the SPCA lobby. I said “This is the one.” Mike looked at me and then back at Shadow and said “Are you sure?” I nodded, we filled out the paper work and we brought Shadow home.

He was to be an outside dog, but that did not last. As the seasons changed we brought him in to stay in the laundry room, which turned into the basement and then the entire house and finally into the double bed we slept in. Eventually we kicked him off, after the purchase of a bigger bed, so he moved into the guest bed and the couch when he thought no one was around.

Shadow was the perfect alarm clock for Mike. Cold nose in face by 5:30 am for play time unless Mike stirred before, then all bets were off; had to go play.

Shadow loved to fetch, tennis balls, sticks, Frisbees, logs. And he loved chasing rabbits. But camp was his favorite destination. He would begin to whine and whimper to get out as soon as you turned onto the dirt road. And once there would run down the hill and swim into the lake to fetch whatever had been tossed from the back deck until he had no strength left.

And there was no petting while playing. He would duck away from you if you held his ball and tried to pet him at the same time. He was focused on only the thing about to be tossed. His eyebrows would move up and down as you moved the object of desire back and forth across his field of vision.

Shadow loved to chew things: socks, clothes, empty dog food cans, and crayons. Mike called it his artistic phase, eat a box of crayons and leave his works of art all over the lawn.

In addition to chewing stuff, our friends and family liked to feed him table scraps, which we frowned upon because German Shepherds are known for their sensitive stomachs. But we did feed him popcorn and ice cream, so we tried to let it go around the holidays, but some just overindulged Shadow. One Thanksgiving, long after the turkey had been wrapped up, we all sat in the living room in front of the TV with Shadow on the floor between us. I heard this tremendous groan and turned to Mike and asked if it was him. It wasn’t, and then we both looked at Shadow; any trips outside that day and night.

The annual tradition of our family Christmas picture began with Shadow decked out in a red bow in front of our first home and continued with the addition of each of our children.

Shadow was our excuse to go get ice cream and he learned not to take bites, only licks, after falling over from a severe case of brain freeze. He also learned not to chase birds off the floating dock in the middle of the lake because it is hard to get back on the dock after the chase. And he also learned not to jump in the hammock with us as a storm approached because we all just end up on the floor. Or maybe that was his intention, I don’t know.

I tried ski-joring and roller blading with Shadow to expend the never ending energy he had… mostly it was comic relief for our neighbors.

He welcomed the addition of our children as if they were his own. He tolerated their sometimes pesky ways, but forever their protector should anyone approach them. Even before the arrival of our children our friends visited with their 1 year old boy who wandered about our house picking up Shadow’s toys. When he picked up Shadow’s ball, Shadow went to grab it as if he was being played with and seemingly swallowed the boy’s arm. However he had only grasped the ball and the boy easily let go of the ball to search for yet another of Shadow’s toys. And when our daughter was sick with a fever and fell down from the top of the stairs, he remained at the bottom to break her fall and prevented her from smacking her head on the hard wood floor.

He was our protector, family member, adventure companion, and solution to a very bad day. Our hearts are so heavy and sad at having to say good bye. His memory will be forever with us.