We originally adopted Shed as a companion for us and for our 10 month old Cairn Terrier puppy. Gus needed a friend and some “motherly” guidance. We couldn’t have asked for a better mother than Shed. We can still fondly remember sitting in our McFarland living room, watching Shed and Gus tear around the sofa in their nightly version of the “puppy races.”
Shed was one of those dogs who came to us almost perfect. One of her few vices was baked goods. We still laugh about the time we brought home a fresh-baked loaf of oatmeal bread from the bakery, and unaware of Shed’s penchant for baked goods left it on the kitchen counter. When we came home the entire loaf of bread was gone and Shed was a very happy dog, wondering what we had brought home this time. During her last months of life Shed experienced substantial cognitive dysfunction, but her instincts for baked goods remained well intact. All you had to do was to walk into a room with any type of baked good, and she instantly zeroed in on the object of her desire. We firmly believe that like Don and his father, Shed was a “Pastry Pointer.”
Shed’s other vice was her constant kissing. If you gave her the opportunity, she would lick you forever, whether you were human or canine, family member, friend or stranger. It took some getting used to, but she obviously got so much joy from it, we never tried to extinguish the behavior.
We almost lost Shed to autoimmune hemolytic anemia in the fall of 1994, but thanks to the heroic efforts of the Madison Emergency Vet Clinic and the dogged determination of Dr. Dave Warner, formerly of the Arbor Ridge Veterinary Clinic, Shed pulled through and was able to give us her love and companionship for 8 more years. We were often near tears during the 4 months Shed suffered from this devastating disorder. At the times when we could no longer bear to see here submit to the daily blood draws, Dave gave us all the courage to go on. Thank you Dave!
Less than a year after Shed’s recovery, in the fall of 1995, we moved to a new life in Maine as owners of the Green Acres Kennel Shop. Shed made the transition well and was always a favorite of our clients and staff. When she wasn’t in the store itself, she was on the other side of the door to the house, sniffing and snorting under the door. Trying to catch a scent of who was there and what was going on, her nasal contortions were so loud we often had to explain exactly what it was that was behind the door.
Shed was deeply attached to Paula, her surrogate mother. She was like a shadow, always there, always wanting to be a part of every activity. When Paula would go down to the kennel, Shed would lie by the door awaiting her return. If she went somewhere in the car, Shed would remain by the window, watching for Paula’s return, whereupon, Shed would lead all of the dogs in what can only be described as a heartwarming group howl.
In 1996 Shed became a certified Therapy Dog with Therapy Dogs International. We took her and Gus, also a TDI dog, to visit folks at local nursing homes but it quickly became evident that Shed wasn’t enjoying the work. While her visits were limited, she helped me train and evaluate countless other dog/handler teams in my role as an instructor and TDI evaluator. I couldn’t have asked for a better dog for this purpose. Shed, your assistance will be missed greatly.
By the spring of 1997, Shed was in her 10th year and had started to slow down a bit. In March we brought home Tikken, an 8-week old Golden Retriever puppy who became Shed’s pride and joy. We don’t know if Shed had puppies before she was surrendered to the shelter, but based on her care of Gus and Tikken she was a superb mother! Shed and Tikken enjoyed countless romps in our field and Shed’s regular cleaning sessions of “her puppy” continued on until the end. We know Tikken also greatly misses her “mommy”.
We knew Shed’s last days were coming near, and on Tuesday, December 17th, 2002 we made an appointment to help her across the rainbow bridge. It was as if Shed was waiting for us to tell her we could let her go. Early on the morning of December 18th she let out several cries and collapsed. She was not in obvious pain, but was acting as though she were just too tired to get up. Paula spent the night with her on the floor in the family room. Even though too tired to move, she was still very interested in breakfast! When Paula went to work, I spent the morning with Shed until the vet arrived in the early afternoon. Paula came up to the house, we all said our goodbyes and let Shed drift off peacefully to rest. We are confident she is again racing around, has her own pastry shop, and is sniffing and snorting at the rainbow bridge, patiently awaiting the day when we will all be together again.