Shadow the Wonder Mom
I wrote out a huge history of all the pets my family have ever had, and mentioned Shadow in there,
but no details about her.
I thought i should give you some, since she was such a wonderful companion animal.
Shadow was a dark mixed dog that somewhat resembled a German-Shepphard on the scruffy and lean side; she was loving, protective, but not agressive. Nothing in her blood ever brought her to be violent or hostile. Her temperment was idealistic for anyone with children or other dogs.
However, Shadow had some very irresponsible owners that didn't agree with spaying or neutering dogs or cats.
They felt it was natural for them to be in the state that nature intended, not realizing that by domestication and selective breeding, humans had already warped that natural intention.
Shadow was severely overbred. Litter after litter of mutt puppies, often unwanted. No one is really sure how many litters or puppies she'd had, or where they had all gone.
My parents had seen the puppies to give away after having bought a small farm with a lot of mountainous area behind it. They thought it would be a good idea to get a dog to have on our farm, and since none of me or my two brothers had ever had a dog, they thought it might be a good experience for us.
So, my dad went to investigate the puppies with my mom.
The man beside the carboard box at the gas-station jokingly said "You want the mom, too? And jerked a thumb towards the bone thin Shadow, lying wearily on the hot cement. My mother ran and got her some water, and my dad glared at the man. He looked over the puppies, which were cute, and healthy, and people seemed to be picking them all up pretty fast. They were all males, which are cheaper to neuter than a female is to spay.
I think both my parents may have considered getting one for half a second, but i know thatonce that half a second was over it was Shadow that they had their eyes on.
My dad got the mans phone number, saying he wanted to get a puppy, but not with the kids in the car (we were waiting quietly. )
He even brought one of them over and promised to bring one home if we'd clean our rooms. We enthusiasticly agreed.
My dad DID meet the owners again, and convinced them that they should let us have shadow out on our farm, and keep one of the puppies instead.
After all, she was an older dog, probably would die soon, and we could just bury her our there after she had a litter of puppies and then we'd have out puppies. It took about 25$ for them to give her up.
Maybe that didn't solve the fact that those people will not neuter or spay their animals, but it did remove a reproducing female dog from their care.
She got into the car happily and drove for three hours with her head sticking joyfully out the window.
If there was ever a time she missed her old home, she never showed any sign of it.
Every second of her life on the farm, she was so eager to impress and please us. If ever we portrayed any sadness, she wouldn't rest until we were all smiling.
Her happy face and gently wagging tail was a source of happiness. She only ever showed unending affection, but her physical appearance betrayed her deceptive attitude. She was not healthy.
Mom was worried that she was too malnourished to go through with surgury right away, so my parents tried to either keep her in the barn, or in the house, but always contained, and very well fed. She bagan to put on weight, and my parents were going to make an appointment for her spay, when they saw her running loose out in the field with another dog!
He was a pure-bred golden retriever (paperwork and all) and the most breathtaking animal that had ever crossed our property. It didn't take long for us to find out who his owners were in that small town. Turns out, he had escaped quite similarly to Shadow, and had been, like her, sneaking back inside afterwards, and was an un-neutered male! Shadow had dug a hole around under the back gate of the barn, and had been routinely escaping to go and play with her new friend.
She loved to play with other dogs, and not only that, but she had gone through heat, and hardly showed any sign! She was so careful about giving us all the attention we wanted, and reading our signs, that she really didn't take the time to tell us how SHE was feeling!
Meanwhile she was pregnant.
My parents tossed between aborting the litter, and keeping it. Neither of them really wanted more than one dog, and no one thought it would be a good idea for her to have another litter, but in the end they let her go through with it, thinking that it would be easier on her physically to have one more small litter under extremely good care, than for her to go though surgury right away (which would be neccessary to abort the litter). My parents began feeding her more expensive specialty foods, and all kinds of meat scraps from our own farm grown animals, and she was allowed to sleep inside the house, and given a comfortable bed and soft blankets in the bottom of my parent's closet. The instant you walked into the room, her tail would be thumping on the floor. She was a littly less eager about belly rubs in her later stages of pregnancy, but if she thought that that's what you thought she wanted, she would try her darndest to roll over for you.
Eventually she realised that we just wanted to love her, and she was content with just sticking her neck out so we could pat her head without invading her closet space.
I was leaving the school when she started her litter: I was at the bottom of the driveway for puppy number four, and my hand was on the door for puppy number seven. The eighth puppy was a stillborn. Shadown birthed them all like a pro, chewed the chords at a perfect length, licked them all immaculately, and was so submissive that my parents were able to remove the stillborn puppy within minutes of it being born. I watched as my dad carried it out of the house.
That evening, i was allowed to go in my parents room and look at the puppies from their bed, but not to touch or go too close (just in case!)
Within five days, my parents were so sure of Shadow's perfect disposition that me and my sister could sit in the closet with her while she nursed,, and she would gaze proudly at us as we petted the tiny puppies' soft fur.
There were three black, three gold, and one silver. I was in LOVE with the silver one SO MUCH! She was so unique and special. I wanted to keep her, but my parents agreed that IF we were going to keep ONE puppy, it would be a male.
They had NOT been expecting so many puppies!
There turned out to be only two females.
The silver one, and one gold one.
If i couldn't have the silver one i wanted so much, i would pick the second most unique and special puppy.
When the puppies got a bit older, and began to get too big and curious for the closet, my parents moved them out into the barn, in a big padded and lined crate inside a large enclosed stall. At fisrt, being a concerned mom, Shadow would want to spend every moment with them, and would only come into the house if she was called.
Slowly she got used to leaving the barn at her discretion.
Every day i would go out and sit in that stall, and Shadow would sit beside me, and mimic my every move. I would rest my chin on my knees, and she would rest her head on her paws. If i sat up to look at a particular puppy, she would prick up her ears, and hold up her head, and look right at that puppy. Sometimes she would play with the puppies, and sometimes they would chase her for milk.
She never showed ANY aggression at all.
Even once when i accidentally stepped on one puppies tail, during a hectic puppy-hed scurry around the stall, all she did was walk over to me and gently lick my hand and look up at me as if to say,
"You didn't mean to do that, did you? I didn't think so." And then she went over and kissed her baby's boo-boo's for good measure.
Of course she knew when her babies were crying for a GOOD reason, and was very attentive to their needs, but she also knew when they were yipping because something actually hurt or because someone nipped their ear and they were in a grouchy mood and didn't want their ear nipped at that moment.
I finally managed to pick out one puppy that was always alone in the crowd. I named him ralph and picked him up and carried him over to my dad and showed him my pick of the litter.
My brother had picked out the chubbiest one,
but my parents thought he wouldn't really notice, being so young and all.
se we kept ralph aside and my parents set out to find homes for the pups, who would be ready for new homes in only a couple of weeks.
My parents have always been pro-spay and neuter, and being very intelligent and resourceful people (i hate to BRAG, but...) they were able to round up several people who were interested in possibly adopting one or two of the pups, as well as their adresses, phone numbers, number of dogs owned etc,
and had them all promise (as friends and animal lovers) to neuter or spay.
In fact, there was little need for it, as EVERYONE adopting turned out to be very knowledgeable about overpopulation and unwanted puppies and the benefits of spaying and neutering.
There only turned out to be one slight problem.
The silver pup, who darkened with age, was adopted to a woman who had recently lost Both of her large breed long haired dogs.
And Voila, the silver girl (i called her Grisel) turned out to be a beautiful large long haired dog.
Grisel's newly adopted mother was so devastatingly impressed with not only her appearance and temperment and health and skills in herding and social skills and intelligence, she begged my parents to let her breed Grisel just one litter before she carried out spaying her.
The woman in question is undoubtedly responsible, with good income, well raised children, and having several spayed and neutered cats, and having had two neutered males so well cared for that they lived very long and healthy lives...
Of course py parents couldn't force her to spay the girl,
but she wanted their blessing and approval on it.
She was so desperately in love with Grisel, my parents finally agreed that she was so responsible, they had no doubt that no dog in her care would remain uncared for.
So at two years old, Grisel had her first and last litter of two boys and a girl. All three pups and mom were all fixed as soon as it was possible, and Grisel's new owner decided to keep all four of the dogs. The three pups never got as big as their mom, but they all bore her body type, good winter coats, and her amazing temperment, even with roughhousing kids crawling all over them, they never stirred an inch, growled or nipped at anyone.
The three pups are all still alive i believe, and all of Shadow's babies had long and happy lives in loving clean and caring homes.
so now the story gets sad again.
Shadow was spayed, but she was still friends with that Golden Retriever, and because he wasn't neutered he was always on the wander. Sometimes he would come over to our property to play, and sometimes would go wandering off after the scent of a bitch in heat.
One day, one of our neighbors shot that beautiful animal when he wandered across his property.
The dog was found dumped, dead, in a sac off in the bush. A few people had thoughts about who had done the deed, but nothing could be proven.
One day, Shadow ran off for some unknown reason,
and didn't return home.
We called and called; it wasn't unusual for her to wander a bit, just to investigate nearby our property, but she was wary of cars, and usually stayed on our side of the highway and came when she was called.
That night, really late, she came whimpering at the back door. My parents heard her, and woke up, and hurried to let her in, relieved that she had come back.
It was dark, and they didnt' see anything wrong with her at first, and as soon as they got to the door, she stopped whimpering. So they assumed she had just wanted to come inside.
The next morning, we all woke up to find Shadow sleeping in a pool of blood.
She sort of winced as she tried to stand up, unable to move or bend either one of her hind legs properly.
My parents carefully carried her over onto a big soft blanket and tried to see what was wrong with her: it was obvious: a large piece of metal was stuck in her hip, right below the leg joint, and through the main thigh muscle.
My dad threw on one of my mom's bathrobes and whisked the dog into the car, and sped away to a vet,
where X-rays showed she had been shot with a nail gun, using a nine-inch nail, through her thigh muscle into her bone.
The nail would have to be surgically removed, and parts of her shattered bone pinned, and the tissue closed. The procedure would be difficult and costly.
and my dad eagerly handed over his credit cards and started writing checks and calling friends to wire him money.
We didn't have enough to cover the initial cost of surgury, so the vet turned us away.
My dad kept asking around, and finally one vet decided to but us a deal.
The firts surgury seemed to go well, and although she couldn't walk, we were sure Shadow was on her way to recovery.
We all thought she looked pretty funny with her back end all shaved,
Then, part of her shattered bone got lose, and was so painful she began to gnaw her own flesh to get at it.
My parents brought her back for a second surgury,
where the vet did his darndest to put her back together, but the damage caused by the impact,
which the vet now believed was done using something more heavy-duty than an average nail gun, and possibly at close range,
so much damage was done, that her hip and leg were devastated.
She left the second surgury completely sedated. My dad carried her to the car where my mom held her carefully in the backseat.
She was on pain killers and antibitics and perscrabed physiotherapy, but we could tell there was something seriously wrong with her: she was in intesne pain.
Even as the pain began to slowly subside, her behavior had changed.
If you were sitting with her in front of you and reached for anything, she would back away and cringe, even if it was just food, or a newspaper you are reading.
This is what I think was done to her:
She was called, and offered food from a friendly hand of a stranger. Once she had been lured close, and got to trust this person enough to eat gently out of their hand, they reached down and grabbed the gun or nail-gun, swung it up and shot it into the right side her hip as she turned to the left to move away.
The only thing we really know for sure is that someone used extreme force to move nine inches of hard metal into a very tough part of her body.
A few weeks after the second surgury, she was a lot more mobile, however something happened again which began to cause her such intense pain that she started to shew herself up again, and when wearing the protective collar, she would just stop moving.
She tried so hard to behave normally,and not to show that she was in pain. She put on a brave face and tried to provide the same love and affection and entertainment she always had but ata times, it was too much.
Never once did she show any aggression,
even if we touched her too close to her wounds, she stayed calm and would simply lick your hadn and gaze lovingly into your eyes.
The decision we had to make was very hard. Everyone in my family loved that dog, and everyone that we knew had loved her. No one understood why anyone would ever do such a thing,
but every day hundreds of animals are suffering needlessly, and we didn't want to add to that.
The surguries had cost our family a lot of money. At that time, my family didn't have much income other than welfare,
but we didnt want Shadow to suffer, and we didn't want to end her life if there was any chance she could live comfortably a long healthy life.
We had done what we could do,
but there was no was that she could ever recover from this creul torture,
and there would never be any way of explaining to her why she was being forced to suffer. She would never know why she was in pain,
she would only know the pain,
and her family, my my sister, my parents, the people that had fed her and petted her and scratched her itches and rubed her tummy and made any needs or wants that she'd ever had be satisfied suddenly had a need that we could not satisfy, and a pain that we could not cure.
My dad was with her in her last moments.
On her way to the vet, she hung her head out the window, and panted happily into the wind.
She greeted the receptionist at the vets office with a lick and a warm smile,
and a slight wag of her tail.
Even though she could hardly walk , and even though she'd been though so much trauma at the vets office before, she thumped her tail happily against the table as the vet put his hand on her neck, and my dad was petting and stroking her head reasurringly.
She gave my dad one last kiss goodbye before she closed her eyes and felt the first true peace she had ever been allowed to feel since the day of her birth.
She was born into the role of a servant: All her life she did her best and what was in her nature to do- to life selflessly for other people's happiness.
That is the true nature of a servant: To live for other's because it is your joy to do so.
To live the role of a servant is my ideal for myself, and i find it so inspiring to see that concept simplified and portrayedso perfectly in such a dear friend.
sorry if my spelling is really bad right now, but i just pulled an all-nighter waiting for Silver to get caught in that darn trap,
and finally he did about an hour ago, just while i was writing.
So i am completely braindead right now, and can't even see straight.
Beautiful story! I was tearing up at the end! SOunds like you made her life better also. Sprry about her loss. But she sounds like she found a true friend in you.