5856_1117676303373_1440507_nDear Shelby,
It has been exactly one week since we said goodbye you and I still can’t fathom you are gone. You were a dog who never got sick, never had to go to the vet for an overnight and a dog, who up until recently, was barely showing any grey to match the 12 plus years of living under your belt. I still toss scraps on the floor, still reach down to pet your soft fur and wait to hear the clickety clack of your big Basset Hound paws on their way up the steps. Our entire family feels a bit lost without you – Nate asked me why we keep sending all our dogs up to the sky because “Now we have zero dogs and I want my two dogs!” Noah cries for you – he grew up with you standing guard at his crib, then his playpen and finally his favorite gaming spot on the couch. Your daddy misses his snooze buddy on the couch – the first tears I’ve ever seen him shed were the ones I saw in the moments we sent you over the Bridge.I feel as though there is a hole that has literally been punched in my chest. You were my angel in the months since we said goodbye to your sister Sydney – never leaving my side, always greeting me with a grateful wag of the tail and an undying affection in those milky brown eyes. I would not have gotten through that terrible grief without you. Thank you.

I thought nothing could be harder than saying goodbye to your sister but I was wrong. Your swift and unexpected decline still has me wondering what I could have done better to have given us more days to enjoy your sweet face. Walking into the house that is suddenly a dog-free zone is one of the loneliest feelings I have ever known. I’ve taken comfort in the fact that you died the same way you lived your life with us – full of grace and on YOUR stubborn Basset Hound terms. The day you died, I watched you pace outside and find a hiding spot under the boys’ swing set – a sure sign that you wanted to get away from yourself, your suffering and from us. Had you rallied from this, the remainder of your days would have been numbered for sure and likely full of lots of medicines that you absolutely detested us trying to give you each day. As sad as I am that I did not have time to really say goodbye and properly spoil you in your final weeks, I take comfort in that dignity that you chose to live out your life – and am grateful that your suffering was so short.

I have said for many years that when we lost you and Syd, I would never open my heart to another four-legged loved one. As we packed away your dog bed and begin giving away your things to a puppy that could enjoy them, I felt for sure that was the last I would see of anything resembling a rawhide or a leash.

This week, I was looking at your baby book and came across the phone number of the man who sold you and your sister to me. For the first time ever, I entertained the notion of a puppy, who maybe might even have some relation to you or your parents. Then, as I spent my usual evening Facebook time, a post from a lovely pet rescues I follow came across my feed and tears began to roll down my face. A two-year old female basset was in need of rescue and I was in love. Instantly.

That night, I dreamt about you and your sister – and that 2-year old basset rescue named Aubrie. Since that night, I can’t stop thinking about her story, her face or about how much I loved being a Basset Hound mom. Your dad knows I am a detailed planner so when impulses strike, I don’t know how to overcome them. This time, I didn’t try. I put in an application to be a rescue Basset mom. Whoa! I’m trying not to get my hopes up that this sweet rescue baby will come home with us – I have no doubt there are many others that would love to take her home too – but the fact that my heart went out to her made me realize I can open my heart to a furbaby again. This revelation also made me realize the best way to honor your memory and that of your sister’s would be to give all that love in our hearts to another hound or two. To do otherwise would imply that our time with you was not one of the highlights of our lives! Being your Basset mom all these years was truly the best of what’s around and I can’t imagine a better tribute than to begin a new era for our family. I know that now – and am grateful for the sign from above reminding me as much.

I have faith you and your sister have found each other and are enjoying a good romp or two in the clouds with Lexie, Lucy and all the critters you enjoyed playing with so much during your earthy life. The night you crossed the Bridge, Noah looked up in the sky and saw two stars shining brightly over our house. “Mom, look – its Shelby and Sydney in heaven! I knew they would keep an eye out for us!”  So with this note, I say thank you sweet Shelby Girl for taking such good care of your mom for all these years – and from your heavenly spot at the Bridge keep watch out for us and whatever future hounds we bring in to this house. They will never be you or Syd – nor do we want or expect them to – but I know from wherever you are, you will keep an eye out on us! See you at the Bridge. We will love you forever.

This song played on the radio the day I brought you and Sydney home and has always reminded me of you girls. Thank you for sending it my way again – and reminding me that now you truly are home!

Taking You Home, By Don Henley

I had a good life
Before you came
I had my friends and my freedom
I had my name
Still there was sorrow and emptiness
‘Til you made me glad
Oh, in this love I found strength I never knew I had

And this love Is like nothing I have ever known
Take my hand, love
I’m taking you home…