It’s been a sad few days here in the longitudes household. Our beloved dog, Sheba, trotted over the Rainbow Bridge on November 1.
I’ve done obituaries here in the past, for both animal and human loved ones. Sharing their photos and stories helps me deal with grief…and I’m really grieving now…so I appreciate your indulgence.
Sheba was 16 years old. She was with us for 12 years and 7 months. We always identified her as a “Border Collie mix,” but Lynn did a canine DNA test a few years ago which surprisingly revealed German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, Chow Chow, and unknown herding breed! But other than herder, I’m not convinced of this finding, as her photos might show.
We found her at the Franklin County (Ohio) Dog Shelter in March 2009 as Lynn and I approached “empty nest” status. They have a “Mingle with Our Mutts” event every other Sunday from 12-2, a veritable flea market of dogs from shelters in central Ohio. We arrived at 12 p.m. sharp, and it couldn’t have been more than 30 seconds before we spied Sheba amongst maybe a hundred canines. She was up for adoption along with another dog through Saving Pets One at a Time (S.P.O.T.), a humane society recently formed in nearby Morgan County.
With her fluffy ears, curlicue tail, and striking coat of white fur, Sheba (her original name) stood out immediately. She also had a distinctive dark, moist scar running from her left eye that looked like dripping mascara. S.P.O.T. told us she’d been scratched by a “weed.”
Her personality was sweet as sugar, too. Unlike our previous dog, Brownie, Sheba appeared sociable with strangers as well as other dogs. At the pound, Lynn and I took turns guarding her—so she wouldn’t get swooped away—while each of us checked out the other “wares.” But from the moment I met her I was convinced she was the dog for us.
I’ll never understand how her original owners could have given Sheba up. For us, she was a fur angel, the proverbial plum pulled from the pie.
Sheba’s favorite activities were joining me on runs and walks, chasing squirrels in the backyard, and playing fetch and tug-of-war. Her favorite human foods were Lynn’s homemade pizza (crust) and my Sunday morning “au jus”—sausage drippings mixed with dry dog food. Whenever we had company, she always inserted herself in the middle of the action. She also followed me around the yard when I did yardwork, and often from room to room. And at night she slept on a pad on the floor, next to me, shifting position throughout the night.
Sheba loved people and strolled right up to both neighbors and strangers alike, ears pinned back and tail wagging. She also enjoyed meeting other dogs, although she sometimes displayed a mild “alpha female” tendency with certain females. She rarely barked, and when she did it was muffled. Her barking moments occurred when flying out the back door toward her neighbor dogs, or whenever I encouraged her with mock growls (or, after she jumped on the bed with us weekend mornings, when I teased her with “How-deee PARD-A-NER!”).
Sheba’s only faults—if they can be called that—were a morbid fear of loud noises; thunderstorms and the Fourth of July had her trembling and crawling under furniture. And she was an expert fur shedder. In fact, we’ll be vacuuming clumps of white hair for the next several months!
Walks and runs were her favorite times, even more so than eating. If she heard the words “run,” “walk,” or “walk-ey,” she became glued to me, often inserting her head under my legs while I tried to tie my running shows at the foot of the stairs. Walks could be difficult for Lynn, because Sheba was strong and had never been trained to heel, and she loved to sniff more than any dog we’ve ever known. As time progressed and her stamina and rear legs began to fail, the runs were eliminated. Then the walks became shorter and shorter.
I could go on and on about this beautiful animal. Everyone adored her. She gave us a ton of love, and we did our best to do the same, although we could never equal what she gave to us. She was not just a pet, she was a living and breathing symbol of home, warmth, comfort, family, and unqualified love. All the things that make living worthwhile.
Sheba, you will be in our hearts forever.
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