If you’ve read any of my Doodlebugged books or followed this blog, you know that Doodle is the alter ego of my dog, Shadow. Granted, Doodle is smarter and even more trouble prone than Shadow, and able to earn a living, something Shadow has never attained, nor (to my knowledge) aspired to. But Doodle’s prove-it-to-me attitude, his sense of being equal to or (more likely) superior to any of the humans he has to deal with came straight from the willful, determined, often disobedient, but always amiable pup we got back in the fall of 2008. Whenever Shadow disagreed with a command we’d given, he would stare up at us, never breaking eye contact, with a look that said “Seriously?” as clearly as if he’d spoken it out loud. Pure Doodle.
“He thinks we’re idiots,” my husband used to say. Or, “He can’t believe how slow we are to catch on.” I could only agree.
As we struggled to convince the ever-skeptical Shadow that we truly were the masters of the house, he taught us how little we knew about training (and living with) a high energy, independent dog. But after those first, what I can only call, fraught years of puppyhood, Shadow blossomed into a wonderful companion, a true country dog who knows more about our neighbors and neighborhood than we do, and who considers everyone his friend.
But things are not looking good for our hero.
While we were gone over Christmas, Shadow developed trouble using his back legs, a condition so serious by the time we picked him up, that we took him straight to the vet. Although he has feeling in his back legs, he can’t use them. He is not in pain. If he had been, we would have said goodbye to him rather than let him suffer.
Over the last few weeks, the vet has ruled out Lyme disease along with some other conditions that might have been relatively curable. Most of the possibilities left do not have a happy ending. We’re taking him to a neurologist, hoping for more definite answers. Our mandate over the last tearful and intense two weeks has been to do what’s best for Shadow. We don’t believe in putting our pets—or ourselves, for that matter—through draconian medical procedures that will only have short term gains, nor in keeping them alive for our sake rather than theirs.
Meanwhile, in true Shadow fashion, while boarding at the vet’s (where he is getting excellent care) he’s made friends with the resident cats and kittens, who take turns sleeping curled up next to him.
That’s the news so far.
If you’re interested in reading happier accounts of Shadow, below is a link to Doodlewhacked, a memoir about raising Shadow that I’ve been working on for some time, and only recently figured out how to make it accessible here as a serial book.
You know that perfect dog from your childhood? The one that did everything right, was intensely loyal and loved you more than anything? I had a dog like that once.
This is not the story of that dog.