Sunday

Home is where your Dog is…


On September 7, 2009 a little red/white puppy was born in Kentucky and on October 24th of that same year, his “official” name-tag was ordered before he came home but his name was changed from “Ringo” to “Shepherd James” and it's after me, just like “Clancy James.”  
Shepherd James at his breeder
On November 6, 2009 “Sheppie” came home forever, I thought…
In June of 2011 on the 6th day of the month, as a car pulled down our lane, I sat on the steps of our back porch and held Shepp and cried like a child.  
When the man, who was a retired military officer got out of the car, he stopped and waited for me to compose myself which took longer than I thought, but he understood and waited.  My life had been devastated.  Here is an email I sent out just a few days earlier to my dog people…

It is with great sadness that I write this email..... Beyond our control, we need to find "Shepard James" or "Shepp" (to most of you), a forever home. After much thought and trying every way to make this work, it just won't. Let me explain. Several years ago, we wanted to expand into Red dogs. After we picked up Meg, we needed a suitable mate for her. After much Internet searching and phone calls we found our perfect dog, which was Shepp. Since that time, we have been trying to have Red pups with no success. He would do the deed, but it never took. Last week he went to a fertility specialist in Kentucky and the results were heartbreaking, he was sterile. This is not the problem, we would gladly keep him if that was the only issue. Because he has no testosterone, he is at the bottom of the pack and is getting picked on. It has started a little and it will get worse as time goes on. Even the girls will dominate him. The only solution is to find him a home where there are not so many hormones running around all the time. He can be with other dogs just not so many, and my wish would be that he would be with another one of our dogs, so that is why I am only letting all my dog owners know.

I am not looking for just a home to take him, I am looking for a forever home to love him. If you know me, you also know I am passionate about my dogs.
There has been a lot of thought and discussion at home about this and it is not an easy decision. The hard decisions never are...I love him too much not to let him live his life in peace.
This photo was taken 10 minutes before he went to his new home
Shepp went to his new home and I was left to think and I did.  In my heart I knew I was wrong.  I received a lot of support but several people weren’t so kind and nothing could be said that I didn’t know.  It was the worst decision I have ever made and I beat myself up relentlessly and still do at times.  On November 20, 2011, Elaine and I went to see Shepp at his new home and here is the last paragraph of that blog…

After some good conversation, it was time to go, I just felt it. We all walked toward our car except Shepp. Oh how I wanted him to jump in the car, but he didn't  He stopped with his owner and sat down next to him, just inside the garage and I swear I saw Shepp lean into “him” as if saying to us, “I’m OK, Thank You Dad”.
At his new home during our visit
As hard as it was to leave, I’m happy because Shepp is happy. Goodbye old Friend, I’ll never, never, forget you……I will tell you, it was a long trip back home. Give your dog a hug, we hugged ours, that night……every single one of them, except Shepp...

I never did forget him and even said goodbye to him in my Christmas blogs every year and I knew I would never see him again.  I pestered his owner with emails, some never returned, but I selfishly wanted to know more which was unfair.  I found an old email that had a cell number and I called, and his owner answer.  My heart raced but I need to know he was OK.  They were great and he was moving the family to a southern state to take care of family.  Shepp was going even further, my little Sheppie would be gone forever and I knew it…

An email, July 13, 2014…
Kenny,
I know it's been a long time since we've been in touch.  Shepp is doing well; however, we are not.  Last November we had to move due to family’s health.  We find ourselves in the position to find another home for him.  The weather down here has been an issue for him (he hates the heat!) and the daily thunderstorms are wreaking havoc with his nervous system.  We loathe having to give him the tablets the vet said to use.
We have come to this decision with VERY heavy hearts and of course you all were are first thought.  Please let me know as soon as possible if you would be able to take Shepp back into the fold.

As fast as I could, I hit reply, “Yes” I said and three days later, I was meeting a man that I was three years earlier.  A person who couldn’t speak without a whimper, but I understood so well and waited.  His life had been devastated.  As I looked inside his vehicle, my little Sheppie wagged his tail, picked up his squeaker ball and walked to me putting his head on my chest.  I said “I’m so sorry” Very few words were said because they didn’t need to be said.  His basket full of toys were with him and we went “home” but a retired detective and career military man were in tears.
One day later, his new name tag was ordered and when I pulled his records up on the computer, his old one were still there and I just re-ordered it and a new kennel plaque is in the works.  It’s funny how life works out at times.
Clancy and Shepp
Things are good now because Clancy and the girls have been neutered and spayed and the young ones pay no mind to him except to play…

Thanks to the owners that took such great care of “both of our dog,” Shepp ,and I will forever be indebted to you and your family for loving him and sending me the email.  Sometimes things happen for a reason and people come into our life and help each other with something we don't understand.

Many years from now...

“Hey…who is that?” someone said at Rainbow Bridge “Shepp, I thought your earthly owner was here with you!”  Shepp spoke up, “I’m one of the lucky ones, you see, I had two families that loved me with all their heart”…as he pranced to greet them with his squeaker ball…

Notes and comments from friends…
Good things always come to those who wait and I know there are more good times to come and when things come full circle it was meant to be.
…Shepp left yesterday and I am just beside myself.  I think what bothers me the most is that Shepp has never done anything wrong.  This was my only choice.  We tried so hard to make it work, but it wouldn't. 
…He must have been a great friend. Always ready to do what YOU wanted. Always trying to make YOU happy.  Well, you have done something to make HIM happy. He may even develop some protective instincts for his new family left alone to his own devices.
…Time is a mysterious cure for these situations. Just when you think you can never recover, something happens with a loved one that brings you out of your introspection and sense of loss. I have made my peace that I’ll never get over losing my border collie. My memories of her are like a collection of rare art. At any time, no matter where I am, these memories can be summoned and I’ll go on a little tour of part of our life together. Shepp will be in this place for you. Plus you can still see him if that is what you want.
Something tells me he would meet you at the end of the driveway.
… Before Shepp left, we spend time together and just did guy things.  I would look into his face and it killed me a thousand times.  When the family came to get him, as always, Shepp ran to them, just like he knew them.  I broke down and cried like a child, but I didn't care.  It was truly the hardest thing I ever did.  Last night when I was putting all the dogs up, I called the dogs and most went in as they always do and I couldn't find Shepp, and then I remembered.....At times I feel like my heart will explode, 
I do know it was the right decision, but it sucks.....

An post I never thoght I'd write,
Welcome home Sheppie…  Dad
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