Tuesday, June 24, 2014

top ten Tuesday: pictures of Shadow.

My friends, summer is (finally) upon us. Summer makes me think of so many good things: days at the lake, Summer Shandy, grilling… and Shadow.
Shadow was my parents’ happy-go-lucky black lab, and he died this past November. This is our first summer without Shadow, and it’s going to be really strange. Shadow was the perfect summertime companion: he’d go on evening walks with Mom and play softball with Dad.

We Midwesterners spend as much time outside in the summer as we can, as our summers are fleeting. Shadow was an outdoor dog who only wanted to be where you were. Wherever you went, he would follow. When he saw you, Shadow’s tail would wag so hard that he’d practically tip over. He’d have a smile on his face so big that you couldn’t help but smile yourself.

I’ve been missing Shadow ever since he died, but now that summer is here, I’ll miss him that much more. Who will greet me at the door, jumping with excitement and with his slobbery tongue hanging out? (I suppose I could ask Dad to do that, but somehow, I don’t think it will be the same.) Summer was Shadow’s time, and he knew it.

Shadow loved to be in pictures – if he saw you point a camera his way, he’d pose for you. Shadow was a great subject, equal parts handsome dog and ham. I’d like to show you my top ten pictures of Shadow.

We took this picture right before Labor Day 2009. I was about to drive to New Orleans to spend three months there for an internship, and I had just returned from a three-month internship in Denver. I had missed out on a whole summer of Shadow, and I was about to miss out on a whole autumn of Shadow. So Mom and I took him to Lake Poinsett - we threw his squeaky toy in the water, and he'd happily go and fetch it. This picture was taken before the squeaky-toy-throwing began, and Mom was having a hard time getting Shadow to look at the camera (instead of lick her face). It is - hands down - my favorite picture of Shadow. Just look at those smiles!

My sister Darrah bought me an awesome camera for Christmas in 2011, and Dad and I spent a wintry afternoon outside testing it out. He threw the Frisbee for Shadow, and I set the camera to sport mode and shot away. There were so many great pictures of Shadow taken that day, and we only quit because my lens was starting to freeze up. Shadow, of course, could've kept going for hours.

My dad's brother Mike has been around for the past few summers, and he and Shadow were great friends. Mike is an early riser, so he'd be the one to feed Shadow and the first one to play with him every day. Look at how happy they both are!

Shadow loved to stand up and dance with you, and I thought it would be fun to get a picture of the two of us with our elbows on the railing. Pictures with Shadow rarely worked out as planned - I ended up covered in drool and with a ton of ridiculous pictures - but I love this picture. I did get punched in the face, but I love the picture nonetheless.

I told you about Easter Dog, but here's a quick refresher: for the last four Easters, we made some kind of goofy Easter prop, put it on the dog, and made him pose. This is Easter 2012, and we had a hell of a time getting the pictures. The fake flowers were hot-glued to the headband, and they were in constant danger of falling off/being eaten by the dog. Shadow was extra-excited during this photo session, but he finally put his paw on me knee (TOTALLY NOT POSED!) and smiled for a picture.

Another favorite in the "put stuff on the dog" series. It was summer 2012, and my cousins Monica and Melissa had come to visit. Whenever Monica, Melissa, and I get together, chances are good that we'll end up taking a bunch of ridiculous pictures - this being one of them. (What you can't see is that we're all wearing sunglasses and holding guns, which was - true story - my first time ever holding a gun. Also hopefully the last.) We were outside, so of course, the dog had to be involved, too. He even kept his sunglasses on.

Darrah went to basic training in July 2009 and didn't come back to South Dakota until December. I love this picture because you can see exactly how excited Darrah is to see Shadow and exactly how excited he is to see her - his feet aren't even touching the ground.

Whenever you arrived at our place, Shadow would be there to greet you... and always with something hanging out of his mouth. Usually it was a stick, a tattered old Frisbee, a mouthful of leaves... whatever was handiest at the time. This was one of those occasions - he looks like he's smoking. I love his floppy smile.

There's a slough near our house, and Mom and Shadow would walk there on nice evenings. Shadow loved to dive in, especially if you tossed in a stick or his squeaky toy. However, you had to be quick to get out of the way when he shook, because you would get SOAKED. I set the camera to sport mode and took pictures as he shook off. I don't know about you, but I think it's hilarious.

Remember how I told you that Shadow would sit down and pose for pictures? This was the day when we found that out. I was taking pictures of Mom and Dad with their motorcycle, and Shadow plopped down with his Frisbee and waited for me to take the picture. Sure enough, he wound up in every motorcycle picture that day.


There you are: my ten favorite pictures of Shadow. While pictures won’t fill the dog-shaped hole in my heart, seeing that goofy face – even if it is just a photo – will always make me smile.

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