In Memory of Our Girlie Dog Shadow, Revised slightly

This is a repeat of earlier posts about the loss of our best friend, Shadow. It’s been seven years. We continue to miss her greatly and always will.

Shadow

Baby Shadow

Shadow was a beautiful, intelligent and playful Akita. We named her Shadow because she followed us like a shadow. We bought her as a young pup and, like most young pups, she enjoyed chewing on furniture and otherwise being mischievous to show her displeasure when we left her alone for a few hours.

Shadow greets Sizler

As she matured, Shadow taught our other pups and young horses how to play. When our pup Honey got pregnant before we had been able to have her fixed, Shadow ignored the pups for a time; then, one morning I saw the pups lying in a semicircle facing her in our yard. Also lying down and facing them, Shadow was gesticulating with her front paws and had to be telling them something, to which they were obviously quite attentive. When one of our mares gave birth, Shadow greeted the foal before Jeanie and I got there. The foal, only a few hours old, displayed no fear of Shadow; neither did her mother, Pimienta.

Shadow had full run of our finca and enjoyed “helping” to train our horses. She and Daisey took turns chasing each other while I worked with Daisey. It was a distraction, but a welcome one.

Here is a photo of Shadow whispering something to Sugar, Daisey’s foal. They also enjoyed taking turns chasing each other around the fields.

Shadow was very athletic. Our own house at the finca had not been built then and so we lived in a rental house about six KM away. Shadow and I would go there almost daily. Sometimes she got in the car to go with me but often she preferred to run after the car for the first three KM or so — always focussed on following the car and never distracted by other other dogs or anything else. When she got tired, she would happily get in the car to go the rest of the way with me. Upon arrival, she would leap from the car and mark various trees with her hind leg raised — very much like a male dog. I never figured out why she did that but began calling her “Girlie Dog.”

Shadow at the creek

Shadow also loved to play in the creek and that was her downfall. She managed to escape our rental house one night and didn’t return until morning. She had apparently gone to play in a nearby creek where snakes gather at night to hunt. She was her usual happy self and greeted us by jumping almost as she always did, but she was limping because something had happened to her left hind leg. She deteriorated until her next and last night, seven years ago today when, at 2:06 a.m., she ceased to breathe and her heart stopped. She died despite the best efforts of a friend, a veterinarian, who had come twice to check on her and had then spent the last night on our sofa so that she could be there to help.

Shadow had been bitten by a snake, known here in Panamá as an Eques, or Xs, a close relative of the fer de lance, whose venom attacks the muscles that control respiration, heart action and other functions. We buried her at her favorite place on our finca, just outside a thatch roofed shelter where we had often gone to rest after working with the horses. Flowering bushes mark her grave. I always wave to her when I pass close to her grave, several times each day.

Here is a memorial I wrote to her:

To Shadow – (February 9, 2003 – December 6, 2006) — You were our teacher, our best friend, and our constant companion. In your short time with us, you gave us unlimited and unconditional love. You tried to teach us how to give it as well. We tried, and hope that we were able to give you ours. You tried to give us your unlimited enthusiasm for life. We love you
and miss you beyond words, and always will.

6 week old Princess

Sunshine at about 6 weeks

The day we buried Shadow, we visited the kind lady who had bred Shadow and had sold her to us. We had heard that it is a bad idea to acquire another pup soon after the death of one we had much loved but things didn’t work out that way. We all hugged and cried a bit about Shadow and then she gave us one of Shadow’s half sisters, from the same mother but by a “finca dog” (a mut). She had a regal bearing, even as a pup, so we named her Princess. She has lived up to her name and resembles Shadow in many, but not all, respects. Loving and quite athletic, she lacks much of Shadow’s great playfulness; she is more “serious.” We asked the lady to let us know when she had another pure Akita and when she did, we bought her. In memory of Shadow, we named her Sunshine. Sunshine also resembles Shadow in many respects, particularly in her playfulness and loving sense of humor.

Our three dogs now

Here is a photo taken a year ago of our three dogs. Ruff, one of Honey’s pups, is on the right; he moved his head but then he often does things like that. We named him Ruff because, when I asked him to tell me his name, he said “Ruff.” He is exceptionally sweet and gentle. Princess is in the middle staring at you — she always looks us directly in the eye — and Sunshine is on the left. Blind in one eye, she doesn’t stare a lot but manages to navigate around the house and the finca quite well.

All three pups sleep on their own mattresses in our bedroom and, when the Sun appears, they gently awaken us to the new day. Ruff comes and asks to be patted on the head, Princess kisses us on the face and Sunshine mouths the bedspread (or a convenient arm) as though she were dealing with fleas on it but in reality is pretending to try to remove the bedspread (but not the convenient arm).

________________________

Princess has decided that I need a care giver, and she tries to fill that role. As I have aged, it has become a bit difficult to walk even short distances. Going down stairs is particularly uncomfortable, but I generally need to walk to Jeanie’s adjacent art studio to activate our internet connection. That involves doing down two steps. Princess one day noticed my difficulty and positioned herself to my left, so that I could lean on her shoulder. She now does that daily. Often, she positions herself outside the studio, on the terrace, to wait until I am about to descend the two steps from there, and then again positions herself to help me.

Sunshine’s sight continues to deteriorate but her playfulness persists. Ruff remains Ruff, never changing: loving, devoted, playful and happy.

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About danmillerinpanama

I was graduated from Yale University in 1963 with a B.A. in economics and from the University of Virginia School of law, where I was the notes editor of the Virginia Law Review in 1966. Following four years of active duty with the Army JAG Corps, with two tours in Korea, I entered private practice in Washington, D.C. specializing in communications law. I retired in 1996 to sail with my wife, Jeanie, on our sailboat Namaste to and in the Caribbean. In 2002, we settled in the Republic of Panama and live in a very rural area up in the mountains. I have contributed to Pajamas Media and Pajamas Tatler. In addition to my own blog, Dan Miller in Panama, I an an editor of Warsclerotic and contribute to China Daily Mail when I have something to write about North Korea.
This entry was posted in Akitas, Best friend, Pups, Snakes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to In Memory of Our Girlie Dog Shadow, Revised slightly

  1. Pingback: Princess, my favorite dog, died today | danmillerinpanama

  2. lburt says:

    This was very touching. Thank you for sharing it. Dogs have always been a big part of my life. We have a 5 yr. old Jack Russel named Kenzie…or should I say she has us 🙂 She likes to hunt garden snakes and snap their necks. Nothing we can do about it except remove all the snakes hiding places in the garden. Soon all we will have is rocks!

  3. Tom Carter says:

    Nice piece, Dan. It’s hard not to get attached to animals and hard to let go of them.

    I’m not a pet person, really, but if I were it would be dogs. But I have a cat. Long story. She was a cat person, wanted one, I got one for her, he didn’t like her that much, so he’s been with me for all his life (almost 13 years). I wouldn’t give a dime for another cat, but I wouldn’t take a million for this one. Funny how things turn out.

  4. Brittius says:

    Please accept my sincerest condolences on your family’s loss.

    • Thanks, Brittius. It’s been a long time since Shadow died, but not a day passes without remembering her.

      • Brittius says:

        I understand. When my Yellow Lab of 14 years passed away, it was worse than when my father died. I buried my dog under the cherry tree that he used to nap under, in summertime.
        Currently going through issues as my wife took a turn for the worse and doctors do not know if anything will be fruitful. They said to make End of Life Arrangements. Next week will tell the story after massive surgery. Always something. God continues to temper my steel and pound me with His hammer.

      • Brittius, my hopes are with you and your wife.

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