10th anniversary weekend

April 9, 2012 | By | Add a Comment

Yesterday, April 7, was the tenth anniversary of my adoption of Shayna from the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA.

A time capsule: Here are the first pictures ever taken of us, on April 7, 2002 (more):

And here (1, 2) are the first videos I took of her, on the day of our adoption, and a week later.

In my upcoming book, “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From a Miracle Dog,” I describe the emotional wreck I was when I adopted Shayna – and how long it took to find her. How hard I fought with myself over three months, as to whether to listen to the little voice in my head that said, “Don’t adopt this one, wait… wait for the right dog for you… don’t make a mistake.” But which dog is “right” for me? How will I know? Don’t all the puppies at the SPCA deserve good, loving, forever homes?

In one of the wiser chapters of a life that had been filled with mistakes, I listened to that voice – and finally, just as I was about to give up, the SPCA rescued Shayna and her twin sister, Bailey, who were stranded in a storm drain, at 10 weeks old (see notes in adoption form, below).

Here is our adoption form.  Note that Shayna’s twin was adopted a week before her.  I was originally scheduled to take Shayna home on March 30/31, but she scratched a kid who’d gone into her cage, and the SPCA had to keep her another week for observation, so I couldn’t take her home until April 7:

And as I say in the video below, when I met her, and realized she was “the one” – even though she looked nothing like what I had envisioned for my first dog – I felt like after all the misfortune and pain that the universe bestowed upon me and my family, that in this one instance, I was handed a winning lottery ticket: the dog that became my best friend, an incredibly powerful spiritual force, and an affirmation of the goodness that resides within me. She is a gift for which I express my gratitude every single day.

I describe this feeling in the book’s Introduction:

What Shayna brings to me is ultimately… me; the “me” that I could and should have been, so long ago.  The “me” that can look at myself in the mirror and doesn’t see shame, humiliation, pain or scars – but rather, sees a decent, intelligent, inventive person who is capable of loving, and is worthy of being loved. The “me” that grew out of the little boy I once was, who was so severely betrayed, traumatized, neglected and exploited, for whom I still silently weep; whose hand I have now taken in mine, and am finally leading out of the abyss into which we were cast so long ago.

That’s what my “miracle” dog, Shayna, brings to me, and how she’s helped to “save” me.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of our adoption, I originally was thinking about taking a little road trip, or having one of our events at the SPCA as in past years. A combination of things caused those to not happen, namely an extremely busy period with work, and a severely escalated level of my fibromyalgia pains.

But we did do something new – a demonstration of her many skills before both sets of her adopted “godparents” at the courtyard next to Panera Bread. These two couples of dog-lovers (seven dogs between them!) fell in love with Shayna several years ago, and she considers them family – as do I: Marvin and Margaret (left), and Chuck and Adella. But they’d only seen her do her tricks on video, never in person, until now.

I didn’t take video there, but did the next day, as we were doing our walk around the UVa athletic fields:

So, to all those who’ve helped inspire and coach me, and who’ve helped Shayna, and who’ve shown us kindness and friendship, I thank you on behalf  of both of us.  She is indeed the light of my life.


Filed in: Life with Shayna, The Blog

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