In Loving Memory of Shaman
We first met Shaman in Flowery Branch, Georgia at the ripe age of 6 weeks. A very nice couple were avid Lab AKC breeders whose female just delivered a healthy set of new pups. We chose Shaman out of the bunch primarily because he was the calm one. He was laying next to his siblings looking at me with these big, beautiful hazel eyes. Not jumping or running around, just laying down and staring. Naturally, we melted over him and took he and one of his sisters home.
Shaman was supposed to be a full blooded AKC registered Lab, but the breeders soon discovered their female had an unannounced gentleman caller. Mommy was a white lab. Daddy was a black lab. Shaman and company were all golden labs. Nevertheless, they looked and behaved 100% labrador.
Like most labs, Shaman was an athlete and part amphibian. Once he discovered how his natural web feet work in the water, it was showtime in the water. Even in his geriatric years, he deeply loved getting in the water. Now, when it came to playing ball, it was pure business. Shaman brought an intensity to playing ball I have never seen. And if other dogs participated in playing ball, he took it to another level. I can honestly say, and I know I’m bragging on him, but I only saw him lose one time in running down a tennis ball. It made him so mad, he made sure it never happened again.
Shaman’s sister, Chelsey was a sweet soul, but a one lady demolition crew. Shaman and Chelsey could destroy a yard, apartment, dress shoes, carpet and padding, fences, chairs, sheet rock, and furniture better than any wrecking ball. Eventually they grew out the demolition phase and became great dogs.
Shaman had a unique way of greeting other dogs. He would tail whip them. Because his sister would bite his flapping lips as a puppy, he would use his rear-end to fend off her attacks. It worked so effectively, he used it on all new greetings. People would get the biggest kick (Mainly Mommy & Daddy) out of his improper style of saying hello. But, that was Shaman.
Shaman had the sweetest soul, personality, and demeanor. Like most dogs, he loved constant petting, but he really enjoyed licking you more. We would call him Sir Kiss-A-Lot when he insisted on baptizing us with his slathering tongue.
Shaman always had friends in the neighborhood. His buddies would come over in the morning and night, scratch on the front door for him. He would go out to socialize for a bit and ready to get back inside with Mommy and Daddy.
At a young age, Shaman developed some health problems. He had his first seizure at the early age of 4. With the help of his Vet, we were able to keep it under control until he eventually out-grew it. His medical record resemble that of a war dog. With seizures, bad hips, torn ACL, laryngeal paralysis surgery (that was scary), melanoma cancer, surgical scars from trapped raw-hide bones, and on. None of these medical issues ever slowed him down or diminished his spirit.
Every morning Shaman would patrol his territory picking up new scents and marking over them appropriately just to serve notice to the neighborhood he was the alpha male. In fact, he kept this ritual up until his last days. He loved his long walks, car rides (except to the Vet), the woods, retrieving tennis balls, consuming treats, and his spots in the house.
Shaman was our baby. He lived to be 16 and a half years old, much to the amazement of his doctors. That is stud levels in my book. He outlived his sister Chelsey who passed in 2007. He outlived his friends, except the new, young ones. In fact, I thought he was going to live to be 20 given his spunk.
I told my wife that Shaman is setting standards that other labs we own will be hard pressed to match. He was our buddy, baby, and a wonderful part of our lives. He is missed so deeply. His sweet spirit and legacy will live on. He will never be forgotten. I know he running at full speed through God’s meadows with his sister, siblings, and friends. When he find God’s lake or river, rest assured he’ll be splashing up a good time.