Shady

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.

Shady Closeup

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.

Shady Asleep on a Blanket

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 Closeup

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.

Shady Snuggle

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.

Shady and Tess

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.

Shady and Tess Booty Up

I love this photo, and I love everything this dog brought to my life.

 

Snake Options

Simon and I got out the “buggy” this morning and went for a run along the Wolf River. If you must run (and that is a question worth some serious thought), I can suggest this as a good place to do it. I also recommend doing it for a good cause like St. Jude, like I am later this month. Donations still being accepted!

He wanted to stay in his pajamas, and had bare feet because that’s something you can do when you’re in a running stroller. Lucky him; I had on running shoes because I was running, pushing a running stroller.

So we’re going around a bend, and lo, a snake on the path. What kind of snake? I’d say it was the long skinny kind where one end is sharp and sometimes mean. Based on my faulty memory, it was unlikely to have been a copperhead or water moccasin, but look man, a snake is a snake, and there are bare feet in this story. Time to show some respect.

I stop and wait for the snake to make its way off the path, which it certainly seems interested in doing. I also start letting passersby know that there is a snake. This includes a few bike riders and then suddenly, something like 20 junior high kids. Of course.

Now, when a guy tells me “hey watch out, there’s a snake” and points at a place on the ground, I am always going to:

  1. Stop.
  2. Freeze until I either see the snake or maybe get additional information about the snake.

What I will not do is:

  1. Say “where” and walk towards where the guy is pointing.

Remember: saying “where” means you don’t yet know where the snake is, or what it’s like, or if the sharp end is getting mean. I think selecting that option is ill-advised.

Eventually the snake takes off into the woods, and people start to disperse, and life moves on. Simon thought it was pretty fun, I think. The worst part was that I had to start running again after stopping. Of all the running things I’m not very good at doing, this is towards the top of the list.

My Son Just Read Music

This is a really big deal for me. 

Simon is five, and he just read this music and played it on his recorder. I know it’s absolute beginner material, but he did it (with great time, by the way) and I am super proud right now!

He’s done some basic music at school and mostly knows a quarter note from a half note. Tonight he found his recorder and this book and wanted me to tell him about it. I think it’s a first for him to be playing a wind instrument with breath control, articulation, and reading the whole thing top to bottom. He was really proud of himself!

I asked him if he would be able to tell his music teacher this week, and he said “but you’re my music teacher.”

A Quarter for St. Jude

Simon goes to St. Jude with me sometimes on the weekend. We “work” in my office, we have lunch at the cafeteria, and we look at the sights. It gets us out of the house, and I hope it gives him perspective on what Dad does and why he does it.

Last month, he was using his binoculars on the drive to campus, searching for treasure on the side of the road. We didn’t find any, but it was fun talking about it.

When we visit, we usually stop by the famous statue of St. Jude Thaddeus at the entrance of the patient care building. He’s really tall, he has big toes, and sometimes we tickle them for fun.

On this particular day, it turns out someone had left a quarter at the feet of the statue. We’d just been looking for treasure, and we found some! Awesome, right?!? A Quarter for St. Jude

Simon looked at it for just a second and said, “Dad, we need to leave this treasure here for the kids.”

Simon Wrote Music

Simon was hard at work at his table a few nights ago, banging out repeated notes on an old musical instrument from when he was a baby, a xylophone/celeste combo thing (with a really out of tune sixth scale degree that has always bothered me, but let’s move on.)

He was also scribbling on his paper with some markers, which I thought was an odd combination. He usually focuses a bit more when at his table, so I had a closer look. 

  
He was making up a tune, and writing it down in his own simple notation system. All by himself. He saw me reading an old 1970’s music copying handbook the other night (let’s move on), but this was all him. 

He’s five, he is awesome, and I am a super proud dad.