Sunday, March 26, 2017

Remembering My Best Buddy

My better half Meg and I met him in August of 2001, near the family farm in southeastern Ohio, just a short drive from where I saw my truck for the first time. After making the annual drive out for the family reunion (this year will be the 49th), I was showing Meg some sights and he came out of the woods as we were pulling in to check out Dad's childhood home. We were immediately struck by his very friendly demeanor and the way he chased us down the road as we were leaving, and figured it just might be a sign that we needed to bring him home with us. After Aunt Marce confirmed that he was a stray, we knew what we had to do. We named our new family member Shay, after the road where we found him - Shay Ridge.

Meeting my new friend, August 2001

Shay with his new mommy, August 2001

After getting him back to Connecticut and to the vet, we learned he was about 8 months old. Of course, we had no way of knowing the exact day he was born, so we decided that he would have the same birthday as Meg's grandmother, January 14th. The vet also told us that Shay had every parasite they tested for, and might have lasted another month on his own in the woods. For us that was just confirmation that we had done the right thing by bringing him home. And it might seem strange, but I've always thought he understood just how lucky he was that we came along when we did. Of course, we were very lucky too.

In the truck, summer 2014

Celebrating Shay's 16th birthday, January 2017

Little brother Zachary looking after Shay - March 16, 2017

The friendly demeanor and strong spirit he'd always had were still there, but his body was failing him. Although he was quite obviously in steady pain, he never made a sound that would indicate it. We had to carry him up and down the stairs, he had difficulty walking and a very hard time just going from standing to lying down. As much as it broke my heart to let him go, I just couldn't stand to see my boy suffer any more. He left us for the rainbow bridge on Saint Patrick's Day 2017.

I picked up his ashes yesterday, along with the paw print in clay. Meg will use some of the ashes in her garden (where Shay was always sniffing around), to mix with the soil as she plants some annuals. Come August, we'll also spread some at the spot where we met him 16 years ago, to bring the story full circle.

See you down the road, Shayboy. I'll always miss you. Thank you for being the greatest best friend I've ever known.