Updated: Oct 28, 2020
This is the love story as told to me by Lindsay Foster, mama of Shelby, the Boxer – Pit Mix from Lancaster County in Pennsylvania.
Tell me about the first time you met Shelby, when and where was it? How did you feel, and what made you feel that way?
Back in January 2008, I was married at the time, and we went out to a place called That Fish Place. I had a coupon for a free bag of Nutro cat food. At that time, we had cats. They had a pet adoption on that day. My ex saw a dog in a fenced area. I did not want a dog. He threw a fit unless we left with her. I left That Fish Place with a three-month-old Boxer-Pitt mix, dog, and cat food. We brought her home, and she had a great first night. All the new surroundings to take in kept her quiet. The second-night crate training, not so much! She howled the entire night. We thought to try bringing the crate up to our bedroom to be near us. She ended up sleeping in our bed that night and every night since.
Thinking back, how would you describe Shelby's personality as a puppy? And as an adult?
OMG, rambunctious, high energy! She loved to play and go for walks. Shelby was treat motivated, and she was rewarded well! She did great at her PetSmart training, even though I had no experience training a dog!. Shelby wasn't a snuggler but liked to be with new people and animals and was very friendly. As an adult, the older she got, she slowed down. Until Shelby was seven or eight, she was the same, still loved walks and playing. She loved meeting new animals. She probably thought, "It's a new friend for me to play with!" Shelby loved the dog park! She hated hot summer days. But she loved the snow! I remember a time when she stuck her face entirely in the snow, and she had it all over her face and on her tongue! She just adored snow! My Dad made running trails like a racecourse in the snow in our backyard. She ran around in circles and had so much fun. She did this until she was about nine when we started her on Rimadyl for arthritis. Until then, she was very active.
And now, how would Shelby describe your personality?
She knew that I was her person to listen to. If I said, "Leave it!" she would. She knew I meant my word. She enjoyed spending time with me. She was happy when I came home. She would say I was fun and adventurous, a roller coaster of activities. I was fun but stern when I needed to be.
What did you learn from Shelby?
Patience. Training a dog is work, but so rewarding. They are like children that need love and affection and exercise. I don't have children, but she taught me how to care for someone other than myself.
What are the top three things you always want to remember about your love?
1. Just how accepting she was of everyone, the trust she had in everyone, even me!
2. She loved the snow; she was my snow dog!
3. She was here for twelve and a half years, and in that time, she talked back to me, but she listened. If she didn't, she would hear it from me. She made me laugh with her fantastic attitude. To give you an example, I'd tell her, "Time for potty!" She would give me what sounded like an "Ugh, do I have to get off the couch?" There was this one time I bought all new treats for Sammy, Shay, and her. That night she got into the treats and ate them all by herself. There was a mess all over the living room floor! I remember asking her, "Shelby May, what did you do?" It was a week until she took another treat! When she did something she shouldn't have, she would put herself in a time out in a corner under the kitchen table. I'd tell her, "I'm so sorry. I won’t yell at you. You did it to yourself."
When did you join Paws?
November of 2018.
Do you remember how you found Paws?
I did a Facebook search for pet loss support groups.
What has or is helping you get to the other side of grief? What advice would you share with someone who recently started grieving?
Just that it does get better with time, everyone grieves differently. It's so frustrating to hear someone say, "It was just a dog," but Shelby was my life. It's a weird and empty feeling, but it gets better. Memories pop into your head, and sometimes I'd laugh, and eventually, that part starts to heal. It's also patience and support from people who understand what you are going through. I'd tell other people going through grief not to be afraid to reach out, ask for a prayer. Just don't keep it in. It doesn't help. Try writing it out on the Paws page. You will get so much love and support; it's truly amazing.
Where are you now in your grief?
I feel like I came a long way. There was shock with Sammy and Shay, but I felt that I was more prepared with Shelby. I had more trauma with Sam and Shay. Shelby had kidney failure, and I'm at peace with how it happened. I still do cry; but, I am more accepting as to how this one went.
Using your spiritual and intuitive mind,
if I could get a message to Shelby from you, what would you want to say?
That even though I didn't want to adopt her initially, she was an excellent dog. I'd thank her for choosing me as her mom. She taught me so much; about myself and growing up, and we went thru life together. Shelby showed me things I didn't think possible; to get the courage to finish nursing school, leave my ex-husband, and she was there with me and made it easier.
And if I could get a message from you to Shelby, what would you like to know?
How she's doing? Did she find all her dog and cat buddies? Is she pain-free? Is she hanging out with Sammy and Shay, and that she thinks of me often.
Is there anything else you would like to share with your Paws Pack about Shelby?
She had accepted two guys that I dated; the current one she just took to him! I was teasing him because she just went to sit in his lap. She was like, "I like you, and you love me up!" She was a trusting dog. She was perfect and accepting of other people and animals I brought home. Sam was a gift one Christmas, and then I brought Shay home. I could hear her thinking, "What, another little critter?" She helped me train them and my current sidekick, Bella. I am so glad they were able to meet.