About the last part of ’98, my wife was on a business trip to Va. She called & said she was bringing home a surprise, well I instantly thought I was getting a new tool for the shop.
I WAS surprised when she came home with a pup. He is a blonde Pomeranian, & was in need of a good cleaning. He looked dirty & scruffy, hence the name Scruffy became his. Originally, she had planned on Scruffy being her pet, and going on trips with her, but it didn’t turn out that way. I would lay down on the floor, and play with him for hours. We would go on walks, and needless to say, he bonded with me more than the wife.
Wasn’t a problem, he was never shorted any attention. Skip to the future.. In 2005, we met a couple with a red female Pom, & we decided to breed the 2. Everything went fine, they had 3 beautiful puppies, and life was grand. About a month or so after everything settled down, we got a phone call 1 night, asking us to baby sit the red Pom, her name was Shelby. Was just gonna be 2 weeks at the most, he was getting out of the Air Force, & they had commissioned a house to be built outside of Denver, Co. So, we said no problem, we’d be glad to baby sit Shelby. So we went to their house and picked her up, along with various toys and things that would be a comfort to her if it was needed. So here we are with Shelby, & Scruffy together for 2 weeks. I practically regressed back to a kid, playing with them and running with them in our back yard. We took them to a couple of parks, and had long walks in the woods and picnics on the grass. I really was dreading the day she would go back to her home, and we would never see her again, but the wife kept reminding me, we’re just the babysitters.
Well….2 weeks turned into 4 weeks, turned into 2 months, turned into 4 months, turned into 11 months. No word, no checking up phone calls, no letters, email, carrier pigeon, NOTHING. I had by this time, considered the dog abandoned, and was of the mind she was now ours. So, it was 3 weeks into the 11th month of silence, when they called, wanting me to bring Shelby back to them. As I laughed into the phone, I explained to him that 1 month of not showing any care about the dog constituted abandonment, and I could not, in good conscience give her back.
Well, in the end, they relented, & said I had a point, they just got busy, and forgot about her. DUH !! How could anyone forget about such a precious dog as Shelby? She was loving to everyone, and got along great with our Scruffy, she loved kids and getting attention. I could not imagine a day without my dogs. They are a constant companion to me, they are a marvelous stress reliever, and a preventative measure against high blood pressure.. I love my dogs without measure.
Now it’s gonna get rough. Last year, Shelby started coughing once in awhile, enough to cause concern, so we took her to our vet, and after extensive blood tests, and lab exams, we were told that she had something called collapsing trachea. It’s a common ailment in smaller breed dogs, & there’s only 2 ways to treat it. With oral meds, or surgery, which is not highly recommended, as it has no guarantee of success. So we had to go with the oral meds. For awhile they seemed to work great, she really improved, and seemed to be getting better. But last month it got worse, much worse. She would go into a coughing spell, and started getting a panicked look in her eyes. Our vet was on speed dial, so she advised I bring her in, late at night though it was, and she would see if she could help her. This whole time, the wife and I are totally distraught, me even more so. Our vet gave her a steroid shot, and it had a calming effect on her, so we brought her home. We always let our dogs sleep in our bed, but Shelby took a little more priority now. I spent alot of my time lieing in bed with Shelby, watching t.v., talking to her, putting my face on the bed beside hers, and just telling her I loved her, and she was a great dog.
Both me and the wife knew what was coming, and niether of us wanted to speak of it, but we knew it would be wrong to keep prolonging her suffering. The last 2 days I spent being extremely attentive to Shelby, trying to see that she was calm and relaxed at al times. The meds were working some, but not nearly to the level we thought they should be. The morning of, we took pictures of Shelby, with me holding her, the wife holding her, and with me lieing on the floor with her. I still, cannot bear to look at these photos, they cause me so much grief. At the vet’s, I took Shelby outside and walked with her in the grass telling her I was so sorry, I had failed to take proper care of her, and I really wished I had the money to try anything else to save her. When the vet told us to come on into the room, they already had a pad laid out on the table, and that was all it took to destroy my demeanor. I leaned over the table with Shelby in my arms, and wept, unashamedly, like a child, like my soul was being ripped out of me. I pleaded with the vet, and my wife, to let’s try anything else, anything but this. But I knew, this was the only answer. I was in such a state of agony that I asked the vet to give me the same shot, I felt like I was killing a child of mine.
After she inserted the needle that would take my little angel away, I got in front of Shelby and tried to tell her how much I loved her, and to please forgive me. You have to understand, this was ripping my heart out. I held my Shelby to my chest, as the medicine slowly took her away from me. I think it took about 2 minutes. After it was done, they asked if I wanted a box to put her in to take home, and I refused, I said I would carry her home in my arms. I spent the next 4 hours in my shop crad=fting her the best resting box I could imagine, I’m a self employed woodworker, so I had a couple options in my head. I used some of the best imported wood I had, I wanted this to be special for her. We clipped some of her hair, so I can put it in a memory locket to wear around my neck. We buried her in the back yard, in my wife’s flower garden, and ordered a pink dogwood to plant at the top of her spot. I’ve drawn up plans for a granite stone to be made for her, and am in the process of building a couple of benches to sit in the garden and just remember.
Since we lost her, I’ve been in constant agony, I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I’ve become anti-social, I just want my Shelby back. At the least mention of her, or a glance at her photo, is an immediate flood of tears, & self doubt. I’ve felt like a dirt bag for what I had to do, knowing it was unavoidable. You may ask why I get so emotional about my dogs, well, it’s because I have no children of my own, and I’ve always considered my dogs to be family, not pets, family. I found your website after my wife bought me your book, Rescuing Sprite, and I found it to be a wonderful, masterpiece of literature. I laughed at some of the story, and cried, uncontrollably, when I got to the part about Sprite’s death. So I do feel like you understand where I’m coming from, having been through this tragedy yourself. I still have my Scruffy, he’s about 12 years old now, and I try really hard not to think about the end for him. The next time I lose a dog, I might not fair so well. The Dr.’s say I do not need alot of stress, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure last year, and had to have triple bypass surgery. So, my lifestyle has been cut back some, but as long as I have my dogs, I am content.
I’m sorry I took so long to get this all typed out, it was nothing short of torturous & agonixing, but I felt I had to post on your web page, and tell my Shelby’s story. I hope Shelby is happy now, and running around with a couple of our friend’s pets that have gone on before her, and maybe, just maybe, she might find Sprite, and they can enjoy their new pain free life.

— Dan from Huber Heights, OH