This was not the inspiration I was looking for. This weekend, I lost a very special part of me: My Shadow.
After nearly 16 years, she went to sleep on Friday morning and didn't wake up.
I guess you could say God brought me My Shadow. She was just a cute little fluffball of black fur in the church parking lot when we found her on a cold day in February 1994. She was there after the morning service, running around, eliciting attention from the just-released churchgoers. We weren't allowed to take her home then. But that night after church, it was getting cold, and dark, and surely she was hungry, and so my dad finally relented and let us take her home.
We put up posters around the neighborhood. But nobody claimed her. We took her to the vet and the little lab/sheltie pup was happy and healthy, and she became ours. We decided to call her Shadow.
She had to spend her nights downstairs where she couldn't get into much trouble. But we soon learned the little black puppy could make her own trouble, and she destroyed the carpet, baseboards, doors. It wasn't funny then, but it's endearing now. Snowball, the cat, didn't like her much. But he learned to tolerate her.
Once she got old enough to behave, she slept at the foot of my bed for years. She made a good foot-warmer. The back of my bedroom door at home still shows the scars caused by her nails when she needed to go out to go potty. At least she let me know.
She never once judged me because I was fat or wore a headband and a ponytail at the same time. She was always glad to see me. She loved cheese. LOVED cheese. But she would eat just about anything. She used to pull on the leash. She ran up and down, up and down the fence with the neighbors' dog. Her favorite toy was her baby, which I think started out as a monkey, and just became "baby." She destroyed countless towels playing tug of war. She'd whip her head back and forth and nearly pull your arm off if you told her to "kill it." She knew how to sit, lay and speak, and my sister told her so many times to do them so quickly in succession, that after a while, if you told her to sit, she would quickly do all three at once — more of a sitlayspeak than a sit. And she lived up to her name, going wherever we went and being generally underfoot. She learned to stay out of the kitchen and would lay just outside the door, only putting the tips of her paws over the line. When she wanted to be petted, she'd come up to you sitting on the couch, rest her chin on your leg, look up with those big brown eyes. And you couldn't help but pet her.
Losing a pet is one of the hardest things I've ever been through. You know they can't live forever, but it doesn't make it easier. I loved her. I still do. And I always will. She was part of the family. She was my friend. And she always was and forever will be, My Shadow.
4 days ago