For The Love of Shadow – Ben Partain

I’ve been with her for her entire 80 years. She was left at our doorstep, not unlike many orphans I rebuked her at first, telling my daughter Christa “Not another one….take it away” She’s one of the great joys of my life now and her name is Shadow. We almost lost her recently, the ravages of old age and a kidney infection had her listless and lethargic, 2 sure signs of impending death in feisty canines but we got her help and she’s doing great thanks to so many tears, prayers and good Veterinarian care. I hope today I can begin to adequately express my undying love for her; it begins 11 plus years ago.

There was a mama Dachshund wandering our neighborhood, she had just given birth and had four of the cutest babies following her around like she was a mother duck. I can’t prove it but I believe our Shadow was one of those pups. Coincidently at the same time, there was also a pureblood Black Labrador roaming the street I had dubbed “Boysey”. I don’t know how such things work but I’m firmly convinced Shadow is the product of those two dogs. Christa discovered her one Saturday morning and delighted “Look at her Dad, can we have her”? I frowned and said “No way, get that thing away from me”, we already had 3 dogs in our lives and I couldn’t imagine room in my heart or house for another…silly me.

Rhonda wrapped a towel around her, Shadow appeared to be about 6 weeks old and freezing due to the brisk temperature and winds of October. My wife was smitten first and I grudgingly complied that we would keep the wee pup and raise her for life. Fast forward to today: Every female in my life is jealous of her. I often times greet Shadow first thing, say a little prayer she’s still with us, kiss her head and confess my love for her. She was with me at my sickest, when we’ve lost other dogs, through the hardest times and now the most blessed ones. I know we’re all mortal and no dog can live forever but she symbolizes something in me I had no idea I had so much of….humanity, love, commitment, faith and, just in general, the vehicle for helping me become a better person. This may all sound pretty extreme for “Just a dog”. Shadow is much more than that, she’s the link to a life nearly over that was saved by my wife Rhonda thanks to a kidney and the genuine affection for something more than myself or chasing money, Shadow is the embodiment of everything in life that’s pure and unconditional….that’s my baby Shadow.


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