I found Shade on an island on Chilhowee Lake in Tennessee. Someone had taken the time and made the specific effort to drive her to the island in a boat. They removed her collar, put her on the island and stranded her there alone. Then they left the island. She was abandoned. Then along came Douglas, my Golden Retriever, and I. We boated to the island late in the day near dark five months ago for the purpose of tying off the boat and spending the night on the floor of the boat. To shorten the story; Douglas growls deeply at around 11PM and out of the thicket came a black dog. It approached the boat carefully and cautiously. I could not get it to come close. A little dog feed was offered and that did the trick. The black dog came close enough for me to grab hold and lift it into the boat. Camp trip was over.

Nothing was more important than getting this animal to safety and inspecting it for obvious medical problems. The engine was started and the boat was backed away from the shore, spot light turned on and away we went toward the far shore at a blinding ten miles per hour. The dog was a black lab and a female possibly 3 years old and about 75lbs.

At home I picked off many ticks and applied Front Line to protect from further infestation from ticks and mites. The vet was visited next day for a spay operation and vaccination and rabies shot. Heart worm tests were negative. And home we went. The Black Lab was named Shade and she quickly became one of the gang here at my place. Douglas, Happy, my rescue terrier, and Shade became great friends and all went to the lake with me and loved to share long walks to an old Civil War ruins. Shade loved to swim with Douglas and chase sticks I would throw into the water.

At home she constantly sat close to me wherever I would sit. When taking a shower; she would lay just outside the shower stall. She would follow me everywhere. When I would sit in a chair she would sit beside me and constantly push my leg with her muzzle. She wanted my hand laid on her head. That is all she cared about. She wanted that human contact. She would constantly stare at my face with eyes that implored not to throw her away like someone else did. I have tried to find Shade a forever home by placing her statistics on the Great Dog Rescue web site with her picture. I guess I didn’t give much thought about the impact of that action upon us all. Well, the inevitable happened. I received a call today that someone wanted to adopt Shade and was coming to see her. Instant sadness welled over me. But I was happy at the same time. I felt I was forsaking her by letting her go. I wandered what she felt. But then, thats a human feeling.

Dogs don’t think. But she surely would know my absence. She would notice that Douglas isn’t in her life anymore. Her surroundings would be vastly different. Our walks to the woods and down to the lake would be no more. I would not see the eyes anymore that used to stare directly into mine. I won’t be leaning down and putting my arm around her neck or pulling her close to me to kiss her between her eyes and pull her face against my cheek. My hands won’t be able to cradle her face and her big front paws won’t be thrown onto the top of my leg as I sit in a chair. And I won’t feel her weight as she sits leaning against my leg while I sit.
I took a long time driving home from work tonight. I am used to Shade bouncing excitedly behind the fence as my truck or bike pulls into the drive way. I knew that she wouldn’t be there tonight. I wasn’t sure how I would react. I was on the motorcycle today so I took a ride after work. Finally I had to return home. I pulled in at around 9:30PM. Douglas was waiting at the gate as usual and Happy was staring intently at me as I approached. But there was no Shade. Her presence was missing. The sweet, sweet friend that begged me not to forsake her like someone else did was not there. I walked in and gave Douglas a special hug and walked slowly up the steps to the room. Normally Shade would be just ahead of me. She would wait until I plopped down into my chair and approach me to receive affectionate touches from her special human. When I go to bed tonight, I won’t hear her body drop loudly onto the floor beside the bed. There will not be the usual deep breath and loud exhalation and then near silent breathing. No whimpers will be heard as she dreams. She isn’t here any longer. She is gone. And I feel terrible. My only salvation is that someone is loving her and wants her forever and can afford to give her a great life and she is in a better place. I hope she adapts well. I am glad that dogs do not know what the word “forsaken” means. I have not forsaken her. I have tried to help her find a forever home. But I feel like the guy who had to throw stones at the wolf who befriended him in order to drive it away from humanity for its own protection. I have never felt this way about much of anything in my life. I almost wish the folks who took Shade will return her. Even though she was one too many in the fold she was an important entity; a friend and part of the family; and my life. I will always remember her. Her essence will endure for us. One of our gang is gone but it’s for her well being and for the best. I hope.

Shade; I did not throw you away. I acted in your best interest. Really! Please understand. And if you need Douglas and I, we will be there for you. You are always welcome with us if things don’t work out. We miss you and we love you. And I am sorry Shade. There is a great void in our lives here that I did not foresee. It will not be the same at the lake without your black sleekness splashing in the water and swimming beside Douglas. The pain of enduring your absence is the only reward I will receive for allowing you to go. I miss you. We miss you.

One Response

  1. Tony Says: