17 July 2004


One of the worst things to happen to me in my forty-seven years of existence was the loss of my beloved canine companion Ginger on Thanksgiving day 2000. I was a zombie for weeks. I was deep into marathon training when she died, but I knew I had to keep going. Near the end of the marathon, seventeen days after her death, I started thinking about Ginger and began to cry. That affected my breathing, so I had to think about other things. Ginger was the sweetest, smartest, most beautiful dog in the world, with the exception of Sophie, with whom she was tied. I still talk to Ginger on every walk, as silly as that may sound.

Sophie and I got on for nearly three years by ourselves. I knew we needed a puppy, but I was afraid it would disrupt our lives and remind me of Ginger. Okay, I felt guilty about trying to “replace” Ginger. Finally, a year ago today, I drove to the North Texas Humane Society in Fort Worth. I made the rounds of dogs and was about to go home empty-handed. I wanted a particular age, sex, and breed, and no dog in the shelter filled the bill. Before leaving, I decided to make one more pass through the small-dog area. This time I saw Shelbie, a three-and-a-half-month-old stinker. She had just been put in a cage, probably because she had just gotten her shots. She walked toward me, nuzzled my hand, and stole my heart. Within two hours, she was home with Sophie and me.

The first couple of days were hard. As expected, I felt guilty, as if I were dishonoring Ginger’s memory. But mercifully it passed. Each day brought more joy into our lives, replacing the awful sadness. The past year has been one of the happiest of my life, and I’ve had many happy years. Shelbie is every bit as sweet, smart, and beautiful as Ginger. I love her dearly. She learns from and plays with Sophie, who, at eleven and a half years of age, is kept young by the upstart’s energy and playfulness. How did I get lucky again? I am thrice-blessed. Here is Shelbie the day I brought her home (eleven pounds) and here she is today (45.5 pounds) with Sophie.

No comments: