Shayna’s baby pictures


This picture was taken of Shayna a few weeks after I first met her, but it’s very close to what I saw when I first encountered her, on March 25, 2002, after a long, long search for the “right” first dog for me. She didn’t look anything like what I thought I was looking for, but her spirit, and the mental connection we developed, almost instantly… told me that this was a done deal, that my search was over.  How joyously correct that was. The next twelve years with her were the happiest of my life.


Our first pictures together

April 7-8, 2002: The first pictures ever taken of Shayna and me after I adopted her, as a 12 week old, 14 lb. bundle of curiosity… and budding love:


“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.”
– Ben Williams


April 2002: Our first weeks together

Below: At the Darden Towe off-leash yard, April/May 2002; this was before Shayna developed reactive aggression, and she could play with other dogs without getting into fights.

Below left: As I describe elsewhere, Shayna was very water-phobic for the first eighteen months of her life. I and the veterinarian attribute this to her having been rescued when she was 11 weeks old from 3 days in a storm drain. So while she’d enjoy going into the water to cool her feet off, she refused to go any further. Below right: Us in May 2002 at a local festival.

The picture on the left has special significance.  As I “explained” to Shayna, in the first months after coming to Charlottesville in late 2001, and during my long search for her, sometimes I would get very sad.  I would go to the front of the University of Virginia Rotunda, in the shadow of the statue of Thomas Jefferson, and contemplate my life, my future, and how desperately I wanted to renew myself.  And getting the “perfect” first dog for me would be the icing on the cake.  So it seemed only natural that I should bring her back to that spot where I began so wishing for her – the perfect first dog for me:



“You’re a ‘dad’ now”: Shayna’s special sleeping request for our road trips

As a bright puppy, Shayna was pure energy during her first months – and, as I discovered, puppies need lots and lots of sleep. But when we were on our many short road trips, exploring central and eastern Virginia in the Spring of 2002, Shayna wanted to ride up front with me, and sleep there as well.

Somehow, though, Shayna let me know that she wants to sleep with her paws wrapped around my right hand, and her head nestled on my arm. If I were to speculate, I’d say this had to do with two things: (1) the persistent, violent nightmares she had at this time in her life; (2) the severe trauma she endured in the storm drain that she got stuck in, and was rescued from; and (3) missing her mom so much, after having been separated from her at such a tender age. Regardless, I was happy to oblige her – and decided, on April 24, to take this picture of Shayna just after we’d gotten finished with a roadside play break, she was exhausted and ready for sleep, and we’d gotten into our “position”:


May 2002: My first indication that there is something very special about Shayna’s brain

While out for a walk in a park in May 2002, I noted that Shayna became fascinated by the concept of shadows on water – particularly, hers. Sensing this to be a very precious moment of discovery that she needed to enjoy to her heart’s content, I stood back and just observed. She sat at the water’s edge for about five minutes just watching – mesmerized – as the babbling water, and her slight movements, changed the shape of her shadow. This was too good of a picture to pass up.


June 2002: Shayna’s first portraits

These pictures were taken just before we left on our first road trip (described below). We were at a pet supply store that happened to be doing portrait sittings that day – and in my new, “appreciate the moment” attitude, said “Heck yeah!” Shayna had just turned six months old:


June-July 2002: Pictures from our first road trip

Our first big road trip together – first, to Washington, DC, for the first Independence Day after the 9/11 attacks, then on to New York and Maine. These pics were taken on the Washington DC mall over Independence Day weekend.

June 22: We depart for some camping in Northern Virginia, before hitting DC:

July 4 weekend on the Mall:


December 2002: Our first holiday portrait

When I learned that the local pet store was offering drop-in portraits for the holiday season, I thought, “Why not?” One of the best calls I’ve ever made. You can see how much Shayna grew in the nine months since I adopted her. Unfortunately, she wasn’t smiling – I don’t think she particularly cared for the photographer.


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