Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Shaggy Dog Story


This week marks the second anniversary of my parents receiving their "best Christmas present" from us. The present is the black dog, Shadow, pictured above.

My parents first met Shadow 4 years ago. They were carrying groceries into their house. When they returned to their vehicle, they discovered a black dog inside, with her head in the bag containing the meat they had just bought. My Dad promptly shooed the intruder off their property.

In the following weeks the 'intruder' would show up whenever my parents went for a walk in the neighborhood. She took it upon herself to protect them from any other dogs that came within reach of my parents. As the newcomer, the 'intruder' quickly fought her way to the top as the Alpha dog of the neighborhood. This was no small accomplishment, considering that 95% of the other dogs outweighed her by at least 25 lbs!

My parents asked around and found out that the 'intruder's' name was Shadow, and she belonged to a notorious unwed mother in the neighborhood. This woman is a sister to former friends of ours. We knew that the whole family's track record with pets was appalling.

Before long, all Shadow's waking moments were spent in my parent's yard. Since they didn't have a dog of their own, she considered it her duty to keep all dogs, cats, and chipmunks, removed from their property. Accompanying my parents on their daily walk was the high point of Shadow's day. My parents quickly noticed that Shadow absolutely refused to walk past her owner's home. If any member of the owner's family was in the yard, Shadow would cower behind a bush until they left.

Within a couple of months, Shadow began sleeping on my parent's step, with her back against their door. One January morning, my Mom found Shadow covered by 4 inches of snow, and barely able to rise to her feet. That was IT! From that point on, whenever my parents were home, Shadow was in the house. Shadow had to be taught to drink water from a bowl. She had, apparantly, been getting all her water from neighborhood puddles and the nearby river. Amazingly, having never lived in a house, Shadow was housebroken. She has NEVER made a mess in the house!

Shadow's living arrangements worked out quite well, with one exception: when my parents went to their cabin for the weekend, Shadow was on her own. Every time they left, Shadow would chase their car down the highway, which broke my parent's hearts. November is deer-hunting season in MN. My parents always spend the two-week season at their cabin. November was brutally cold and snowy, two years ago. We take care of my parent's house whenever they're gone. It broke my heart to find the icy patch, that was Shadow's bed, on their step every time I went over there.

I mulled this situation over for a couple of weeks. I'd finally had enough of watching Shadow's beautiful spirit being neglected by her "owner". I called the "owner" and offered to buy Shadow. The "owner" laughed and said that Shadow was just a bum, but ALWAYS came home every night at 9 p.m., when she arrived home from work. RIGHT!! For the past year, Shadow had been asleep, next to my parent's bed, EVERY NIGHT! The "owner" eventually said that my parents could have Shadow, but she knew that Shadow would eventually return home to her. That's all I needed to hear! I hung up the phone and made a quick trip to Menards, where I purchased a dog tie-out kit, leash, and dog bed. I wrapped these items in Christmas paper, then Z, L, and I went to my parents house with the gift.

My parents were confused when they opened the gift. "We can't tie Shadow up; she doesn't belong to us." Then I explained that, yes, NOW she officially belonged to them. My parents were immediately teary-eyed. Then we ALL hugged Shadow, and officially welcomed her into the family.

The following week, my parents took Shadow to the vet for shots and a checkup. It turned out that Shadow's previous owner had adopted her from our vet's office. Our vet insists that all adoptees be spayed. Shadow had been spayed, BUT, the "owner" had never returned to have the staples removed from the surgery. This is a FREE procedure, which is part of the spaying package. Shadow had been sleeping out in the cold for almost 2 years, with grown-over staples in her abdomen!! Our vet was furious, and said that he had had "issues" with this owner in the past. Shadow bravely lay on the vet's table, while he removed the grown-over staples, without anesthesia!

Now, when my parents go to the cabin, Shadow joyously accompanies them. When they travel to places where dogs aren't allowed, we dogsit.

Shadow continued being the neighborhood bully, to the only victim in her reach.....Hairry! For the past 2 years Shadow has made it clear to Hairry who the boss is. Hairry meekly allows Shadow to lord it over him, despite the fact that he's 5 inches taller, and 25 lbs heavier than she is. Thanksgiving Day, Shadow's behavior changed. She actually welcomed Hairry, by licking his snout, when she arrived at our house. She even let Hairry sit next to my parents, instead of shoving him out of the way. Hairry is still a bit sceptical about this behavior change, and continues to defer to Shadow's every whim. Shadow ADORES everyone in our family, especially Z! We're hoping that a holiday miracle has occurred and she now accepts Hairry as part of our close-knit family. Time will tell...


At 12/03/2006 10:05 AM, Blogger Gardenia said...

Amazing story. I am glad Shadow got to keep the owners that she/he picked out! This poor dog was definitely a victim of severe neglect - your folks probably kept it alive. I watch Animal Planet all the time and I just don't understand why people don't just give away their pets if they don't want to take care of them. Sometimes even euthanasia would be better for the poor animals.

I can't imagine how painful those staples must have been.

I had a large standard poodle that found me once, also a wonderful dog - housebroken, loving, clean, (he pulled my clothes off the line so he'd have a bed is how we met. I'd chase him off and back he came to stay until landlord found out.) We ended up having to gim him away because we were renting, but he was such a dear heart.

At 12/03/2006 10:21 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

D, you're right; Shadow adopted my parents, which shows how smart she is! ;)
I can't watch those animal rescue shows on Animal Planet. I either get enraged, or I sit and cry. :(

At 12/03/2006 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awww...what a sweet story!

At 12/03/2006 3:53 PM, Blogger Vest said...

A shaggy dog story indeed.But be ware when wendy the wicked unwed wanton witch wants her woof woof weturned. M X & A A H N Y.

At 12/03/2006 3:53 PM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

What a wonderful story! I've seen neglected dogs find new families for themselves. They're very good judges of character. I'm so glad it worked out. I hate to think of any animal out in the cold. Maybe Shadow has finally come to believe she's in this family for keeps and nobody can usurp her place, thus the mellowing.

My German Shepherd, Max, was abused when I adopted him and very vicious with others. It took him years to mellow and trust that he was a part of the family and wouldn't be thrown away, but he eventually did and became an integral part of our family for nearly 13 years until it was his time to leave. Gosh I miss that dog.

Good news is my sister thinks her female Shepherd is finally in heat again, so maybe I'll have a new puppy by next Spring. I love that breed.

At 12/03/2006 5:05 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Euro, she's our Christmas success story!

VV, Shadow loves people and ADORES children. It's other dogs that are a problem. Like my Mom says; she has "issues". She had to fight to stay alive on the street. I think she finally realized that Hairry is part of the family she loves so much, so she'd better accept him.
I LOVE German Shepherds, but nobody around here breeds them. My aunt's 2 Shepherds were SME's first dog friends. Our first dog, Buddy, was 1/4 Shepherd.

At 12/03/2006 8:07 PM, Blogger Nancy Drew said...

So glad that Shadow found your family and that her story had a happy ending.

Some people should not be allowed (a) to reproduce or (b) near any living things at all. Sorry but that's how it is.

Can't watch animal shows at all. Something awful always happens and I just can't bear it. That's how I wound up with two cats to begin with...they lived to the ages of 19 and 20...then wound up with two passed away at the very young age of 8...and on it goes.

Why can't we euthanize the bad pet owners!!

At 12/03/2006 8:55 PM, Blogger SME said...

You forgot to mention her nickname: Ma Barker. She doesn't bark a lot; she's just very bossy. ;D

At 12/04/2006 12:22 AM, Blogger MonicaR said...

Oh - what a nice story.

I have never been a dog person - but in the past few years I have met a couple of dogs that worked their way into my heart. They're very sweet and wonderful and full of love. It just so happens that they were abused before their new owners got them. I cannot imagine hurting any living thing the way those prior owners hurt those animals. It's sad.

I'm sorry that Shadow had such a hard life but I am so glad that she has a loving family now. I hope that Hairry's long suffering pays off - - I think it may have!

At 12/04/2006 1:27 AM, Blogger Justin said...

Lovely post. Lets all welcome Shadow n congrats for finding a ne home!! And hey, wanna know wat my doggie is upto..check out this post on dog's dictionary. I hope u'll njoy it!!!!

At 12/04/2006 7:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes very nicely said everyone. Its kind what Tug did to Mark and Mary. Lol... You know I remember when I lived out by you guys and The Yancy boys teased my moms Great Daine with there bikes. One day a guy went riding by on his bike and Trucker broke his chain and went after the guy. My mom kept calling the cops on the Yancy boys but they wouldnt do a thing because they werent actually coming into the yard. They would stop right before they got into the yard and tease him. That is sad.

I am glad to hear Shawdow has a loving family now though. She sounds very special. I love happy endings like that. I agree with every one that if you cant take care of an animal dont get one. I also know a few people I wish would never have had kids because they never knew how to take care of them even babysitting. I wont say much on that but Yes Shawdow has a very loving family.

At 12/04/2006 1:11 PM, Blogger Laura said...

I hate people like that, I really do. My question is - why did the vet allow these people to adopt Shadow if he'd had "issues with them" in the past? That's not very smart. It pains me to see unhappy dogs, because by nature, dogs are such joyful creatures. I'm glad to hear she has a permanent home. Someone should bring up her former "owner" on cruelty charges for the staples and neglect.

At 12/04/2006 1:58 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

ND, I've known a LOT of people who shouldn't have pets or KIDS! They fall in love with a cute puppy, kitten, or baby, then neglect them when they stop being cute and require work!

LOL SME, I forgot about that!

Monica, so true! I've seen several pets, both cats and dogs, who have been abused, and they are such grateful pets.

Umm, Tweets..don't mention Shadow to M and M. Mark's sister was the former owner. That's just one of the reasons that we don't get together with them too often anymore. Remember, blogs are anonymous!

Laura, so do I! If you're not going to make your pet part of your family, why have them?
Good question about the vet. I never thought of that before. He houses animals for the local Humane Society, so maybe he can't deny pets to people?

At 12/04/2006 2:24 PM, Blogger Miranda said...

I'm glad Shadow found a better home. It's amazing what people will do to and won't do for their pets.

At 12/04/2006 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry I forget from time to time here. I will try and remember a little better from time to time. I dont talk to them that often anymore. I send pix to them every so often but not that often. I mean I remember how they treated the one dog they had. I just hope they dont blog also and read this. LOL!!! Well I guess they will just get upset with me if they do. I dont want them mad at you. Just me is ok. I can handle M. Well again glad Shawdow got a nice home. I bet he likes it better than those kids beating on her or or him. Well anyway have to go brown my hamburger for my chili. Its been in the crock pot all day long. Later.

At 12/04/2006 3:53 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Miranda, unfortunately those types of people usually treat their children the same way!

Tweets, no problem. I just don't want them knowing about my blog. I wouldn't be as free to vent about things then! ;)
What really aggravated me about M and M, were the 2 dogs they kept in the back yard kennel. They were always knee deep in mud and shit and viciously fighting each other.
Then they'd come over here and let their kids hit our dog with toys, or stomp him, or kick him.
Lately, they've been making comments about SME not being married. Yeah right! Their daughter is living with THEM, with her boyfriend and their baby! I don't need that crap anymore!
I'm glad that you and I get to talk all the time though!

At 12/04/2006 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. I dont judge people like that because J and I didnt get legally married until this last June. June 2nd to be honest and its Sme's choice not to be married any longer. I am also glad you like talking to me. I know sme and I went our own ways after school but we finally found each other as friends again after all this time. I have to say is that this last time that John went after Lisa she pressed charges so hes not even living there with them any more as far as I know. But I know what you mean. M used to come over and pick on my moms Great Daine. That dog hated M. I am glad you finally put a stop to them torturing the animals. I dont think they deserve any but what can you do. Well anyway. Enough about that. LOL!!! I will tell you what M said when we come home when my mom threw us our wedding reception. Its something I dont want on the blog or think its appropriate ok. So when we see you in March I will tell you. J was saying Harry is kind of roudy for him but Harry is a big dog so its expected and hes used to be played with I noticed when we were there last.

At 12/04/2006 6:50 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Tweets, I'm happy to know that we're not the only ones who don't approve of their treatment of animals. I agree; they don't deserve pets!
It sounds like we've got a LOT of catching up to do when you get here.
Hairry is normally very mellow. He just gets excited when new people come to visit. He thinks they're here to entertain HIM!

At 12/04/2006 8:25 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

I'm so glad that Shadow found herself a loving family. It's a shame when people will take on pets and then not take care of them.

And what is it with people judging others for living in a committed relationship, just without a marriage license. Sometimes I think it means more when you stay together without a messy divorce hanging over your head.

At 12/05/2006 4:11 AM, Blogger SME said...

I forgot all about Trucker! Suddenly I remember. I could only remember the wrinkly pups - what are they called? Sharpeis?

At 12/05/2006 6:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes. and I think you spelled it right also. I dont even remember how to spell it after all these years. Trucker died in Las Vegas when we went in 91. He got bit by a rattler and my mom didnt know it and by the time we figured out what was wrong it was too late for him.

I know this sounds like a funny comparison but I can just imagine thost staples. I had c-sections with the girls and with K they put staples in and that is what I cant imagine is the skin growing over them from neglect of taking care of them OUCH!!!!

At 12/06/2006 6:41 AM, Blogger SME said...

Oh, I'm sorry about Trucker. That's awful.
That staple thing with Shadow made me cringe, too... ;(

At 12/06/2006 10:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes I can see why. OUCH. A guy J works with is selling his house and wants to give his dog away but it was abused when he got it and he doesnt like men very well and I am leary with the girls. I think we might just get a puppy if we are going to get an animal and go from there.

Yes Trucker was my moms baby but she held it together quite well when that happened. When we went to Vegas in 91 my cat got left out there some where. But no way to bring animals home on four day bus ride. Oh well. But like I keep saying I am glad Shawdow got a great home. Sounds like shes happy enough with the living arrangements. LOL!!!!

At 12/06/2006 10:26 PM, Blogger Candace said...

I love a story with a happy ending! :) Luck Shadow! :)

At 12/07/2006 1:47 AM, Blogger SME said...

Shadow's pretty spoiled, yep. And every time you say this to my grandma, she says, "Oh, but she deserves it." ;D

At 12/07/2006 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds that way. Go Shawdow. I told J about her last night and he asked me if I wanted him to have night mares. He was attacked by a dobbermen when he was B's age so dogs arent his favorite choice of animal. But he was only joking when he asked me that. He has gotten over it. He just doesnt like them when they jump all over him. Me i grew up with animals so it doesnt bother me as much.As long as he can get into the house and sit down and the dog wants attention he doesnt mind so much but getting into the house and having them on your feet is hard.

At 12/08/2006 5:28 PM, Blogger .: raven :. said...

i am sobbing here .....

what a beautiful story .. you really need to send that in to Dog Fancy magazine or something .....

what a beautiful beautiful story about the love that our furry friends give us on a daily basis .... and how despite us thinking that we pick them .... in truth .. they choose us.

awwwww .... ((( hugs ))) Shadow .. Sienna the Chocolate Lab send her doggy greetings and says ... sleeping inside is the bomb, isn't it? :)

(sienna has her own pillow and blanket ON my bed)


At 12/09/2006 7:15 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Tweets, L was scared of big dogs when we got married too. He was half scared of Buddy, when we first got him. As you well know, L got over his fear. ;)

Raven, we've ALL been ecstatic over the outcome of this story for the last 2 years! Shadow is sooooo spoiled now.

You're so right about pets picking us. The golden lab, we had before Hairry, picked us. Boo shoved her 7 siblings out of the way, so she could park her furry butt on SME's foot, when we were trying to choose a puppy. Boo INSISTED that we pick HER out of the litter! She continued to be the boss of the family for the next 10 years.

At 12/20/2006 11:02 PM, Blogger Vest said...

hey hhairy and shadow hope you get abig bone for christmas


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