About Shayna

August 13, 2011 | By | Add a Comment


To the outside world, Shayna may look like “just a dog.”  I and the other people in her life know she’s much more than that.  To know her is to know that she’s somewhere between a dog and a human child. 

And it is in tribute to the “miracle” that I believe she is, and what she’s brought to my life, that I dedicate this website and the book I am now writing about her.

Shayna came to me in April 2002, after I embarked on a long search for the “perfect” first dog for me.  She was rescued by the SPCA as an 11 week old stray pup, found with her twin sister in a storm drain. I adopted  her about 2 weeks later.  See the pictures of our first year together here

A veterinarian who specializes in behavior issues did an analysis of Shayna’s physical and psychological characteristics, and came to the belief that she’s a Border Collie – Siberian Husky mix. It fits; she has the brains of a Border Collie and the raw strength of a Husky.

Of course, there’s no way to be 100% certain of her genetic lineage. 

The only thing of which I’m absolutely certain is that somewhere along the way, someone sprinkled magic into her veins – because to me, and those who know her best, she is nothing short of a miracle.

Soon after 9/11, a recent string of severe personal tragedies and the resurgent memories of childhood ones, I became determined to reinvent myself.  And as part of this reinvention, I wanted to see about adopting my first dog, after decades of wanting one, but knowing I couldn’t provide the kind of home one would need.

It took a long, long time to find the “right” first dog for me.  And the funny thing is, the last thing in the world I (thought I) was looking for was an all-black dog – how depressing!!!

But as I learned, sometimes life’s greatest miracles can be found in the last place one looks.  And having picked Shayna for my first dog makes me know what it feels like to have won the lottery – because she not only “saved” me, as I imply in the name of the book I’m writing about her, she’s helped me to begin to heal from the traumas mentioned earlier, and has become the best friend I ever had.  And I thank my lucky stars every day for the good fortune of having her in my life.

The “miracle dog” who’s also a brainiac

Another aspect of what makes Shayna a “miracle dog” is her seemingly limitless ability to learn or teach herself new tricks.  She is so inventive and motivated to learn that it’s sometimes hard to keep her occupied. Having an extraordinarily smart dog also presents its own unique challenges, which we work on every day – joyously.

Here’s a sampling of the tricks she’s taught herself, or that she’s been able to learn – follow the links to see videos:

“Frisbee skiing”:  A self-taught trick, she turns a frisbee upside down, backs up, runs up to it, puts her front paws inside, and pushes herself along.

Retrieving toys by name: She’s now memorized the names of 28 toys, and can go get them and put them away, in a box or bowl, by name and command.

Retrieving toys using flash cards: She is learning to look at a flash card with the picture of the toy I want her to get, and she goes and gets it.

Retrieving one tennis ball or two in her mouth, at the same time, depending on command: She taught herself to retrieve two tennis balls in her mouth at the same time; now, I can throw out one ball or two and tell her to go bring back one or two, and she knows the difference.

Stacking ring toys on a pole: She has two “ring”-type toys that she will stack on a pole, on command. (towards the end of this video)

“Waving”: She will raise her right paw high in the air on command, and it looks like she’s “waving.” (towards the end of this video)

Shayna truly is a “miracle dog” – and I consider myself the luckiest guy in the world to have her.

She brings smiles to the faces of everyone she meets, and is one of the true blessings of my life.

The book

I am now writing a book about the miracle that Shayna is to me, and how much I learn by being her “dad” and best friend: “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog.”

See details here.



Filed in: Life with Shayna

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