Likes: Shelby loved just being with us at all times. Even if we just went to the store, she wanted to go too.
Pet-Peeves: RAIN - she hated the rain. And squirrels in trees that she couldn't get to. And people that raised their voice at her mommy.
Favorite Toy: Speedy the beanie buddie
Favorite Food: Turkey and Cheese sub from Subway (a once a week indulgence.)
Favorite Walk: Anywhere we took her.
Best Tricks: She could do any and everything. My favorite was her jumping on the trampoline.
Bio: I picked Shelby out when she was a tiny wrinkly thing at 3 weeks of age. Waiting the next five weeks until I could bring her home with me was almost more than I could bare. However, the wait was truly worth it. From day one, she was boss - not me, not Hootch, her 185 pound half brother....no one but her. She remained boss until she passed away... Here's more of her story.
The first year of her life she firmly attached herself to Hootch and made it clear that HE was her best friend. I may have fed her, bought her toys, etc, but it was he who made her truly happy. My feelings were hurt, sure, but our trainer assured me she would come around once she had built up some self-confidence. Well, when Shelby was a little over a year of age, she began to rapidly lose weight..to the sum of 41 pounds in about 4 weeks. My less than adequate veterinarian (also my employer for 5 years) told me she was just a normal "active" dog. I began to panic as Shelby struggled to keep food down - she was vomiting or having diarrhea after every meal. Soon she stopped eating all together. Luckily, my trainer was also a veterinarian and she agreed to see Shelby immediately. I was distraught, as I had NEVER left Shelby alone for anything, but I had to go to work that day (remember, I worked with the veterinarian who said she was fine). Later that afternoon I rushed to pick my Shelby up. She was so sick she had just laid down in her kennel and refused to get up. My sweet girl growled at anyone who attempted to go into her kennel. Finally, I went back to get her, and I saw a little light in her eyes as she rushed to me and kissed my face. FINALLY, she seemed to love ME. Dr. Beth (the GOOD doctor) sent Shelby home with some medications and told me she would contact me the next day with test results.
The next day the news came back that for whatever reason, Shelby's pancreas had completely shut down and she was not absorbing any nutrition whatsoever. She was placed on several medications and a very bland diet. Still, she had no appetite, and I had to begin cooking for her - really stinky homecooked foods that I had to HAND-FEED her. Then, the unexpected....
Out of the blue, just when Shelby seemed to be making a turnaround, Hootch died. No warnings, just dead at the age of three. Shelby was devastated, as was I. She laid on his bed and refused to budge for days. After a pretty long mourning period, she finally began to warm up to me, and we seemed to be making progress. She started to eat normally as the medications took effect, and eventually, she put back on her weight. She was a normal dog again.
Fast Foward Ahead
As the years passed by, Shelby became the most obedient, well mannered dog you could ever hope to own. She was amazingly tolerant of screaming children, nosey little kittens, and all of the foster danes I took in through years of volunteering with the local Great Dane Rescue. She became a registered therapy dog, a canine good citizen, and my fiercest protector. I've never seen such a perfect balance. She wouldn't have hurt a flea, but....BUT.....if she read any trepidations coming from me about a person...she'd kindly but very much dominantly place herself between myself and the person in question. Her fur would stand up and a light growl would be given as warning, but never did she so much as lay a tooth on anyone. She knew what she needed to do to "bluff" someone out of messing with me, but I have no doubt that if I were ever truly in danger, she would've given her life to save mine.
As she got into her senior years, she still did things full throttle, and never seemed to show her age with the exception of a little stiffness now and again. Then, about 3 weeks before her 9th birthday, she began to have problems breathing. I took her to the vet, and in the course of a couple of minutes my whole life changed. She had a large tumor in her mouth, and probably her sinuses they said. It could've possibly been an abcessed tooth, but they seemed to think it was probably cancer. They gave me a $600 estimate for a dental and extractions and a dose of antibiotics and sent me on my way. I struggled with the decision of having the dental done or not. My long-time vet had told me that Shelby had abnormal heartbeats and PVC's (pulminary ventricular contractions...I think) and that any surgery was to come with a high risk. She may or may not survive the anesthesia. I decided to hold off. The tumor grew and began to drain out of her nostrils....I spoke with another vet and it was concluded that this was indeed cancer, and it was inoperable. I could put her on prednisone to try to keep her airways open, but she would not be with me much longer.
I was devastated.....I couldn't believe we'd never go to the beach again. Or the mountains. Or even the park. I cried as if she were already gone. She hung on for 11 days and then died in my arms on the bathroom floor. I woke up that morning sensing something. Before I left for work, I told Jeff "watch Shelby closely today." I just had a feeling. Three hours later, my neighbor came to my workplace saying, "You have to get home, "NOW." I went numb..I knew it was happening. I came home to find Shelby on the floor. She had collapsed and could not get up. As I walked into the bathroom, I knew she wouldn't make it until we could get to the vet. I sat with her and told her "It's okay sweetheart, you can be free now." She laid her head on my lap, stretched out her paw to place it on me as well, one last time,and then her spirit was free. She passed away at 12:45 pm. At 12:47, the softest rain fell for three full minutes. The sun never stopped shining. I felt that signified her safe passage to Heaven.
I'll never forget her. Even when she was dying, she thought of me. I am so thankful she hung on long enough for me to say goodbye one last time.
She gave me so much, and I miss her immensely.
It's been a while since I've touched base, and I just wanted you to know that I am okay. Hootch and I ran in the flowers today, Mom. It's beautiful. There are flowers year round, and when we are tired, we take a nap in the clouds. Mugsie is up to his silly antics again, and Dozer is...well...you know how Dozer is. Dexter is sleeping under the big Oak tree and all the kiddies are playing patty paws with the whispy little clouds.
I've met several friends here, and me being me, I've taken the scared ones under my wings. I've taught them how to send special signs to their loved ones still on earth, so they won't be so sad and frightened.
I still send you signs, Mom. Did you see that shooting star the other night? That was me...just letting you know that we all still love you and think about you all the time.
It's been so long now since I left you. I still watch out for you everyday. I don't want you to be sad anymore when you think of me, Mommy. I'm okay.
Hootch and the boys are all okay too, and they watch you too. You've got to be the most watched after person on earth!
You know those nights, when you wake up suddenly, and don't know why? That's me, Mommy. That's me and the others, resting our heads on your heart. You see, Mommy, we may not be there in body, but in Spirit, we are there with you every step of the way.
We love you so,
Shelby, Hootch, Mugsie, Dexter, Bailey, Tux and the others.