This is going to be sad.
In July, our beautiful Shady passed away at home. It’s very difficult to think about, and I try not to.
The story of Shady joining our family is a big part of what defines our family. I wrote about it before. This, I think about all the time.
She always kept her skepticism of the world that she rightfully earned before us, but she also knew how to be silly, to run and play and jump on someone’s head, then run away. If dogs giggled, she would have had the best giggle of them all.
She also had the most amazing big eyes that could see right into you. When people wonder if dogs have a soul, those people have never met a dog like Shady.
But then, I have met a lot of dogs, and I’ve never met a dog just like Shady either. She was special in a way that is hard to describe. It’s more about the way she was than things she did, but she did sweet Permanent Puppy things all the time.
When Shady went for a walk, she would sniff and snort with an intensity that made her sound a bit like a pig, and we would call her Truffle. She had a beagle’s nose and curiosity. She also had a beagle’s love for eating more than she should, and wandering, and chasing small things, and laying in the sun.
If you’re twenty pounds and a little scared of the world, you use what you have. She had a bark that could be heard for a mile, and she used it. No tolerance for funny business in our front yard. If you came in the house for a visit, she would bark, even if she knew you, but once you gave her a treat, suddenly you were Just Fine.
Shady the speed beagle! When she was younger, she would run around the backyard at top speed, darting left and right, but generally in a big circle. Then she would dive into the forest of ferns near the patio. The last thing you could see were her back feet, stretched way out as she disappeared. The tops of the ferns would shake violently, then stop for a moment. Then they’d start up again, but six feet away from the last place. After a while, a magnificent blur of brown and white would eject from the ferns, three feet in the air, with huge googly eyes. She would seem to hang in the air for a few seconds, but as soon as her feet hit the ground, she would take off in a random direction, running even faster than before.
As she got older, she still did this from time to time, but she really came to appreciate just laying on someone. Usually Tess, the basenji mix whom Shady loved more than anything.
I have hundreds of photos over the years of the two of them just laying around on a couch, almost always touching. And often in these photos, Shady’s eyes are closed, asleep and at peace with a world that is still scary sometimes, but not so bad as long as we love each other and have each other’s back.
Here’s one of my last photos of Shady.
I love this photo, and I love everything this dog brought to my life.