Wednesday, March 20, 2013

the dog chronicles: Shadow.

My parents no longer have children living at home, and they love it. There’s no more whining about what’s for dinner, and there’s sixty percent less laundry. The place is clean and quiet… but not TOO clean and quiet, thanks to a dorky black lab named Shadow.
My sister brought a little black lab puppy home during summer 2007. I had a lot going on that summer: I was working at the county courthouse (Monday through Friday, 8 to 5: my first real job), I was in between my sophomore and junior years (and figuring out what my majors should be), and I was trying to figure out how to dump Hipster Boyfriend so I could date James instead. So yeah, busy summer.

I have no idea where Darrah got this little puppy, but one day, he was there. She named him Shadow (even though my dad suggested Skidmark, which my brother and I thought was a brilliant name), and voila, there was a new dog in the family.

Our first dog, Spot, was in the old-and-crotchety phase of his life. By 2007, he was fourteen years old. Spot was going blind and had no interest in this playful new puppy. Shadow knew it, too, and he pestered Spot endlessly. Shadow would run circles around Spot, nosing him in the ribs. Spot – who couldn’t see what was going on – would try to nip Shadow, but the poor old dog could never catch his tormentor.

In summer 2009, Darrah left for basic training, which meant that my parents inherited the dog. Spot had died in early 2008, so it was just Shadow and my then sixteen-year-old brother Mitch left.
They get along just fine.
My parents are dog people, plain and simple. When Shadow’s reigns were turned over to them, they had no problem taking over. Mom began to teach him tricks: he can shake, high-five, roll over, beg, stand up, balance a dog treat on his nose, and play dead when you point your finger like a gun and say “bang!” The one trick Mom has never been able to teach him is “speak.” Shadow doesn’t bark: he whines. When you get out of your car, he’ll greet you with something in his mouth (a flattened football, a leaf, whatever) and a high-pitched whine. He is a WEIRD DOG.
And kind of dumb... he followed James
around this tire for about five minutes.
I think that maybe says something
about James, now that I think about it.
Shadow, though a large dog – 70ish pounds – is the wussiest creature you’ll ever meet.
It took us the LONGEST time to convince
him that he'd have fun jumping off the dock.
He’s terrified of fireworks (he actually ran away one time we were setting off fireworks in the yard), and if he hears coyotes howling, he’ll hide behind you. Shadow is afraid of jumping into the back of the pickup – when Mom and I took him to the lake one evening, we had to actually lift him into the pickup bed. Dad once thought he convinced Shadow to try and jump into the pickup bed, but Shadow took a half-hearted leap and fell far short of his goal. He landed on his tail, and the poor dog sprained it! For the happiest dog in the world (he wags his tail so hard that it’s been known to leave bruise on unsuspecting legs), having a sprained tail was about the saddest thing ever.

Shadow loves to keep Dad company when he’s working outside, and he loves to go on walks with Mom. 
And play Frisbee with anyone and everyone.
Shadow, like any dog, will explore the ditches, but every few minutes, he’ll trot right back to Mom to make sure she’s still there. When he’s satisfied that she’s not leaving without him, he’ll bolt ahead and go back to the ditches. That is, unless they’re passing a pasture with cows in it. Surprise – Shadow’s afraid of cows. When they walk past the cows, Shadow is always securely behind Mom. I repeat: wuss.

Because of his wussiness, Mom and Dad take extra-special care of Shadow. They put him to bed every night (Shadow doesn’t go to sleep unless he’s chased his tennis ball a few times – oh, and I guess you have to tell him “last time” when it’s the last time so he’ll be mentally prepared for it – and given a scoop of food), and they arrange playdates with their friends’ white lab, Ike.

Shadow LOVES having his picture taken (and I love taking pictures, so it works out well for both of us). When he sees a camera pointed at him, he’ll actually pose. He’ll only do this if it’s just the photographer and the dog: if there are other people around, Shadow gets too excited by all the potential belly-rubbers.
My uncle Mike will always stop to
pet Shadow. They are great friends.
Every Easter for the past three years, we’ve taken Easter Dog pictures. 
Don’t ask me how we got started – but, like most of the bizarre photographs, it was probably my idea. We put something Easter-related on or near Shadow and try to get him to take a picture. Shadow has the goofiest smile, so when we do get a picture (after many MANY attempts), they are hilarious.
The picture-taking is pretty great, too, if you don’t mind a dog nose in the face every now and again.

Shadow is an outdoor dog: he runs around outside during the day (unless it’s too cold, of course), and he sleeps in either the little red shed (summer) or the heated garage (winter). In the winter, my parents kick him out of the garage a few times per day. Shadow immediately makes his way over to the deck and proceeds to stare into the kitchen. If somebody meets his gaze, he smiles and wags his tail, hoping for either a.) a playmate, or b.) someone to let him back into the warm garage. When he thinks no one’s going to see him outside, he sits at the edge of the porch with his head drooped, and he looks just like Snoopy when Snoopy was pretending to be a vulture.

So Shadow has been around for almost six years now, and I don’t know what my parents would do without him (my siblings and I are pretty sure he outranks us on the “favorite child” scale). He’s the happiest, dorkiest dog I know, and if you stop by my parents’ house, you can bet he’ll be there to greet you with a wagging tail and a big smile – but watch out for his mouth: he slobbers.

1 comment:

  1. Rest in peace Shadow. It was nice to throw the tennis ball for you and give you a belly rub last summer. You have a sweet soul. You will be missed dearly by your family so keep a good eye on them from above. Peace.