Pics: 2003-2006

Continued from: “Shayna’s baby pictures”

A potpourri of undated photos from 2003-2006

“The Hug”: I only remember we were at Chris Greene Lake Park so Shayna could go swimming with some other dogs, when she began whimpering about something, as if she was in pain.  I gave her a head-to-tail check, and everything was okay, and I was so relieved, that I gave her a big hug.  A friend saw it and asked that we do it again, then snapped this pic.  It’s one of my favorites, and might end up being on the cover of my book.

“Shayna in the driver’s seat”: When I have to run into a store for a quick errand, or while I’m getting my coffee in the morning and setting up our table at one of the cafes we frequent, Shayna likes to sit in the driver’s seat of my truck.  This is appreciated during the winter – she keeps the seat warm!   I never thought much of it until a good friend of mine took this picture when she came upon my truck, but instead of me in the driver’s seat, she found Shayna.  Some people who see her doing this ask, “Does she know how to drive?” My standard response: “Yes – that’s why I keep the keys with me” (jingle keys).



April 7, 2003: Our first adoption anniversary party at the SPCA

As I describe in my book, the staff at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA showed enormous patience with me during those three long months that I spent searching for my “perfect” first dog, which I adopted on April 7, 2002.   On April 7, 2003, I began an annual tradition of bringing in a cake and other goodies to thank the staff for helping to bring me one of the greatest miracles of my life.  The photos of this first year aren’t great, but you get the idea:


And of course, Shayna got to eat her cake, too (yes, I made sure it was dog-safe!):


2003: Running with two balls

One day during her first year, Shayna taught herself to hunt down and bring back two tennis balls in her mouth at the same time.  During her first six or seven years, Shayna just couldn’t get enough of doing this over and over again, until she dropped in exhaustion – or, if we were at the lake, to take a dip in the cool water.


“Just chillin’ out in the sun after chasing down my two tennis balls… over, and over, and over again…”

Oct-Nov. 2003: And posing pretty for the camera…



2004: Local dog trick show contest winner Shayna gets a hug from ‘dad’

In the spring of 2004, a local festival had an open dog trick competition.  Shayna won for her “two-ball retrieve” – and after she received her award (treats, a bandana and a certificate), she got a big hug from ‘dad.”  I guess you can see how proud I am of her, and of the love and trust that had blossomed between us by this point.


January 2005: Frisbee skiing!

See the videos on this page to learn more about this amazing trick that Shayna taught herself in the summer of 2002.




July 2005: Shayna meets her first puppy, up close

Until this point, Shayna had seen puppies from a distance, but had never been up-close and personal with one.  That is, until my next-door neighbor volunteered to foster a litter of beautiful pups from the SPCA until they reached 12 weeks.

Shayna didn’t know quite what to make of them; I think she thought they were too small to be dogs, and too big to be insects.  She was a really good sport about it though, and didn’t care that they crawled all over her, and tried to get her to be their mom.  Shayna doesn’t have a material cell in her body, so I think she was just amused at these cuddly little bundles of fur – but was eagerly awaiting our departure, so she could go chase down her tennis balls again.


October 2005: Glowing, swimming and chasing geese – then, suffering a broken nail

My glowing girl:

As noted elsewhere, for the first eighteen months of her life, Shayna was extremely water-phobic.  Since then, however, she’s learned to swim really well.  Here, at the same pond where she finally learned to swim (near Monticello), Shayna decides the most fun thing to do would be to chase some geese.  At right: “Where’s my treats?  Make with the treats, Dad!”


 And as described in my book, October 2005 was one of the hardest periods of my life.  I’d been financially devastated by the accident that took me out of commission several years earlier, and was struggling hard.

But it was times like this – outings that put joy in my heart and brought Shayna and me closer together – that helped me stay optimistic and hopeful that something good was on the horizon, if I just worked hard enough.  Turns out, there was; about five weeks after these photos were taken, I landed a major consulting contract that kept me going for eight months, and enabled me to buy a much better camera in the fall of 2006.

The broken nail: When she was much younger, Shayna had a habit of taking flying, full-speed leaps into the grass as she got close to her tennis ball; unfortunately, sometimes I’m not as attentive as I need to be in terms of trimming her nails.  And on occasion, one of her front nails would catch on a branch or root or something and “snap!,” it would break mid-way down… ouch!  The only remedy was to put her into a soft-side cast and keep her from running for about a week, while her nail healed.  For those who say “Oh, it’s just a dumb dog,” who can’t feel and doesn’t have emotions, look at these pictures of Shayna while she’s on the injured roster – have you ever seen a more pathetic looking face?

 November 2005: My beautiful, happy girl


December 2005: Frisbee skiing!

She just can’t get enough of this fun in the snow.  But as much of a delight as it is to see her so joyful, there’s nothing better than coming home and shacking off the cold in front of a roaring fire, then getting a delicious warm meal.  Though Shayna may think otherwise – she’s never quite ready to go home.


See videos of Shayna doing her “Frisbee skiing” here.


December 2005: I discover Shayna’s love of memorizing the names of objects and retrieving them

As I describe in my book, 2003-2005 had been, with the exception of Shayna, a nightmare.  But in late 2005, things started to turn around.

My fondest memory of this time was my discovery that I could tell Shayna to go get her collar, and by golly, she went and got her collar, and brought it to me.  So, I then began assigning names to some of her other toys.  She didn’t quite get it.  And even when she did, she understood the concept of “get,” but not of “hold.”  She just wanted to pick up each toy, then drop it.

So we worked on the “hold” command.  It wasn’t always pretty, but when she finally got it, we celebrated.

Here are a few pictures of her showing off how well she learned the “hold” command, with (clockwise, from top left) “spike,” “egg,” “Kong,” “collar.”



 And more, a few days later: “Kittie,” and “bone”:



April 7, 2006: Our fourth adoption anniversary party at the SPCA

As in each of the years prior, on April 7 – the date I adopted Shayna in 2002 – I brought in cake and goodies to the folks at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA to thank them for the kindness and patience they showed me, and for all they do.

And of course, the cake was dog-safe, so Shayna could enjoy it as well.  At right: Us with two dear friends who sort of became Shayna’s godparents, Ed (RIP) and Wendy.



September 2006: Oh, the joys of a high-quality camera

I devoted some of the money I finally earned in 2006 to buying a halfway-decent digital camera – and wow, can you see the result.  These pictures were taken at the University of Virginia.


September 19, 2006: Shayna recruits new people to throw her balls for her – then gets totally pooped out in the heat

One thing Shayna loves to do is to recruit new, unsuspecting people to be her ball-throwers – particularly kids.  Here we are at Charlottesville’s McIntire Park, where Shayna delighted some new under-12 friends with her antics.  But as you can see, it was sooooo hot that after about 10 minutes of this, she was exhausted and just wanted her cool water and to chill for a bit:


And then, when we got home… mmmm… ice cream*….


*CAUTION: I only found out later, as a result of researching this book, that ice cream is not good for dogs; see here.



September 19, 2006: A day at Chris Greene Lake Park

This is one of our favorite hangouts; it is the picture of serenity, with lots of lush walking trails and a big lake in which we can cool off afterwards.  The best part, for Shayna, is that it has a big grassy hill right next to the lake, so she can do all the tennis-ball chasing she wants, then take a dip when she needs to cool off. (Bottom right: And then, after a long afternoon of this, and a good meal, Shayna’s ready for a long nap…)




September 25, 2006: Shayna’s focused training face – then, play time!

Until now, I’d never captured in pictures the completely focused look Shayna has when we’re doing our toy-memorization training.  When I describe in my book how she’s more than “just a dog,” she is a sentient creature with a need to learn, to develop her brain, and it shows on her face… this is what I mean.  Below, she is watching my hands and listening to me as I identify toys, and tell her what I want her to do.  This comes to life in moving pictures in our videos, here.


And afterwards, of course, is play-time!  Here she is, jumping over a big post:



September 26, 2006: One of my favorite pictures of Shayna

I just happened to catch this after one of our training sessions.  She looked so happy, so proud, so content, so at peace with the world, and I was so happy to be her “dad,” to have helped to bring her this kind of contentment and happiness.  Heaven knows she brings me enough happiness in return.



October 1, 2006: “Dad,I’m bored… when are we going out?”

Another aspect of how Shayna is somewhere between a dog and a child is her expressions when she’s bored.  Here, her look is unmistakable as she watches me doing some work in a long, hot bath, to help naturally alleviate severe fibromyalgia pains.  I know this look well – so I decided to keep the camera nearby in case she decided to grace me with a visit – and this look:



October 6, 2006: Our first trip to the ocean (Virginia Beach)

I took Shayna on this mini-vacation after finishing up work on a major, eight-month consulting project – which originated after one of the darkest periods of my life (from 2003-05).

In order to really appreciate the significance of what happened here, keep in mind that for the first eighteen months of her life, Shayna was extremely water-phobic.  So when she saw, smelled and heard the ocean for the first time, I know it was a bit overwhelming.  On the first day, Shayna was content to walk and play in the sand and dip her feet in the water, but that’s it.  As you can see, she also enjoyed trying to do her “frisbee skiing” right there on the sand, too.


It wasn’t until our second day that she went into the water to go retrieve her tennis ball, but only if she could do so without going in above her shoulders – in part, thanks to a girl I met there…


And afterwards… she had this big grin on her face, as if to say… “You know, that wasn’t so bad…”


November 8, 2006: Washington, DC trip

I went to DC to talk to a prospective client, and of course, took Shayna along.  In fact, the only night we’ve ever spent apart was when she had her spay surgery in May 2002.  At right, she got into a habit for a while of sleeping with her head hanging off the side of the bed, pointed down.  I have no idea what that was about… but regardless, here she is, doing it in the hotel room during this trip.




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