He was only my second dog, and the first one I got as a puppy. He came to our school as a skinny little stray, a tan shepard/lab mix with a dark patch across his back and tail. Erika Eldridge picked him up, and found him a temporary home. She knew I was looking for a dog, but knew I didn't want a big one. The first time I saw him, I knew he was my dog. He ran right up to me and started licking my leg. I took him home in a box, but he was so energetic, he sprang right up out of it and licked me in the face. When I got him home, he fit in the palm of my hand. I took him to the vet, who estimated that he was about ten weeks old. We crate trained him at first and penned him in the kitchen of our apartment with it, but he ended up climbing the crate with his claws and escaping. We knew then that he was pretty smart.
After a few weeks, his feet doubled in size, and his ears started to stand up, though one flopped down half the time. I took him for walks, and he ate goose poop. He thought it was a delicacy. When we moved into our house, he was fully grown at 88 pounds, and was quite a handful. When we went for walks in our new neighborhood, he would grab the leash with his teeth and pull me along. I was never sure who was walking whom.
From the beginning, he was an athlete. He would run, chasing Frisbees and lasers, until he was ready to collapse, gasping for air. I eventually got him to catch the Frisbee, and it was his favorite game to play. When he would bring it back to me, I had to get it from him, while he caught his breath. He would eventually tire of that game and drop it, but not before he taunted me at least twice.
Another favorite activity of his was shoveling snow. When I would take care of the driveway, he would always join me outside, waiting for a load of snow to come his way so he could snatch it up in his jaws. We even tied a sled to him a few times, but he would take off so fast, the sled rider would fall off the back. Shadow LOVED the snow.
Until he was about 11 years old, he was the same energetic, playful puppy I met on the very first day. He really started slowing down, sleeping more, and having trouble catching the Frisbee. I knew he wouldn't live forever, but I didn't expect such a sudden decline. We finally had him put to sleep today when he got really sick at home. He'd been getting more aggressive as well, probably partially due to arthritis, and although it was difficult I knew it was the right thing to do.
The house seems so much quieter without him. It's an absence we'll be feeling for a long, long time. Goodbye, Shadow. I already miss you.