The Story of Shaggy
by Madeline Bigelow

As my family and friends know, Shaggy was my beloved and departed toy partí-poodle who was much more than just a pet. He was my constant companion, my confidant, and my Emotional Support Animal (ESA). He was also lovingly known as Shaga Shaga, Shagaroo, and my Shagin. He came unexpectedly into my life and eventually became much more to me, he became a family member and an integral part of my daily life.

Today, September 9th 2017, is the third month anniversary of his sudden and unexpected departure. I just can’t believe that it has been three months since the last time I saw, heard, touched, held, hugged, or kissed my beloved Shaggy. His sudden and unexpected departure has been a very heartbreaking experience. So, as part of the healing process, it has been recommended (suggested) that I memorialize my Shaggy by writing about him and my experiences with him. So, here it goes...

The Beginning:

Shaggy entered my life on Sunday December 3rd 2006. I had gone to the mall to do some early Christmas shopping for some co-workers. As I left the mall around lunch time, I noticed a group of people gathered near my car. As I approached the car I noticed there was a cardboard box laying on the grass median next to my car. When I looked into the box there were four tiny puppies that had been abandoned. Upon closer look I noticed there were two males and two female puppies. The males, one was black and white and the other one was brown and white. The two females were all black. A lady picked up the two black females and a young boy picked up the brown and white male leaving the other black and white male in the Box. After a few minutes it started to rain and the people around the box quickly dispersed taking the puppies they had picked up with them, but leaving the smallest one, the black and white runt, in the box.

Not having the heart to leave this poor little puppy to his fate, I picked up the wet cardboard box and placed it on floor in front of the passenger seat and drove home with him. Once I was home I noticed that the puppy had no teeth and could barely open its eyes. The following morning I took him to the vet to examine him and help me find a home for him, since I never intended to keep him. After examining the puppy the vet told me he was just about four to five weeks old and that he would have to be fed with a syringe because the puppy did not know how to suck milk from a bottle. He told me that until the puppy could eat on his own he couldn’t help me find a home for him. He also told me that the puppy appeared to be a healthy toy parti-poodle or a mix with toy poodle.

From there I took the puppy to my son’s house and explained the situation to my daughter-in-law and since she worked from home, she agreed to take care and feed the puppy during the day and after work I would pick him up and take him home with me on week nights and weekends. Once the puppy, now named Shaggy for his abundant and curly black and white hair was two months old I made the decision to keep him. My daughter-in-law and I kept our arrangement for the first six months of his life. From then on Shaggy lived full time with me until he crossed the Rainbow Bridge on June 9th 2017.

The Interim:

For 10 ½ years Shaggy and I lived together, we shared everything together, we went everywhere together, and we even travelled together. He became my constant companion and confidant in good and bad times. During that time he went to obedience school. He was trained, certified, and registered as a Service Dog, an ESA Dog, and a Therapy Dog. We took morning and evening walks everyday. And once I retired on March 30th 2012, my neighbor would play fetch with him every morning, except when we were traveling. We visited hospitals on a monthly basis and he accompanied me to restaurants, the supermarket, the mall, the bank, the drug store, doctor appointments, etc. For the last five years of his life he went with me every week day to pickup my granddaughter at school or summer camp. Her schoolmates all knew him by name and would take turns petting him and he loved it. Living on an island we took many walks on the beaches of Puerto Rico, as well as walks through the streets of Old San Juan.

He had a complete physical every year, which he always passed with flying colors. He got his booster shots every year. And except for the occasional ear infection he would get due to humidity accumulating inside his floppy ears after a bath, he was a very healthy and happy dog. The only accident he ever had was about a year before he died when he pulled out a toe nail from his left back paw that got caught on the metal mesh of a chair that he jumped off of. Every month I took him to have his hair groomed, every six months he had his heart worm prevention injection, and every two years he had his teeth cleaned and polished professionally by his vet.

He slept with me every night and he woke me up every morning at 9:00am. He was the first thing I saw every morning when I woke up and he was the last thing I saw every night before I fell asleep. He would sit or lay on my lap when I drove even though he always had a car seat of his own. He was a very calm, obedient, and well behaved dog. He never begged for food when I or anyone else was eating. He only barked to let me know when someone was at the door or on the very rare occasions I had to leave him home alone for a couple of hours. According to neighbors, he would bark for about five minutes then he would calm down. He loved children and got along with most other dogs, but cats and pigeons not so much.

Wherever we went people would always come up to me to compliment me on how well behaved and obedient my dog was. When he was not on my lap, he would be sitting or laying at my feet. To this day I still look down when I get up from a chair to make sure I don't accidentally step on him. He was my shadow every where I went. Whenever I was sad, mad, upset, disappointed, happy or excited about something I would talk to him about it. I shared and vented my feelings with him all the time. He would attentively listen to me and tilt his head side to side as though he understood what I was saying. He never answered back, criticized, judged, or disagreed with me, but then again I guess that if he ever had I would have fainted from the shock. He was loyal to a fault. He was truly a source of companionship, comfort, pride and joy for me.

During the 10 ½ years we spent together, Shaggy and I experienced many happy and exciting memories with family, friends, and strangers, too many to detail in this writing. My Shaggy was a faithful companion that never complained. I couldn't have asked for a better companion… 🐩 🐾

The Ending:
On a sunny Wednesday morning on June 7th 2017, I woke up to find that my Shaggy had been sick throwing up and shivering. I immediately wrapped him in one of his many blankets and rushed him to the vet and left him there because I had errands to run and pick up my granddaughter at summer camp. When I returned to the doctor at 3:30pm he informed that Shaggy was suffering from renal failure and that he would have to stay hospitalized so he could do a series of tests, x-rays, sonogram, and give him some antibiotics, as well as an IV. The following morning, Thursday 8th 2017, I called the Vet’s office and the Technician told me that he had spent the night stable, but when I met with the doctor that afternoon he informed that Shaggy was not responding to treatment and was not getting better. I asked if I could see him, but the Vet said he preferred that I didn't because it would excite Shaggy and make him think that I was there to take him home.

The following and final day of my dear Shaggy’s life, Friday June 9th 2017, I received a phone call from the Vet’s office at noon to inform me that the Doctor wanted to see me as soon as possible. At that moment my heart sunk to the floor, somehow I knew it wasn't going to be good news. Upon arrival the Doctor told me that Shaggy’s kidneys had basically shut down and that I had two options. One was to euthanize him or to let him do an exploratory to see if he could find and possibly fix whatever was the cause of Shaggy’s renal failure. He was very clear that the success of the operation was minimal, but it was a last ditch effort to try and save Shaggy’s life. Of course I started to cry and told him to do whatever he could. He already had everything ready to immediately perform the exploratory operation. He instructed his technician to bring Shaggy out so I could see him and say my good byes in the event he didn't survive the operation. He told me that if he found that Shaggy’s condition was not fixable he would not bring him out of the anesthesia, but that he would euthanize him while he was still under.

When they brought my Shaggy out for me to see him and say my good byes he had an IV in his left front leg and a catheter through his little penis. He was laying down and rather weak, but when he saw me he stood up on his four legs, he started wagging his little Pom Pom tail, and licking the tears that were rolling down my face. I cuddled his little face between my hands and started to kiss him on the head and cheeks. I told him how much I loved him over and over again. He just looked at me with his inquisitive eyes and tilted his head as to say, why are you crying mommy? Then I picked him up and hugged him until the Vet Technician had to basically pry him out of my arms. Once the Technician left the room with my Shaggy in his arms, I immediately made an about face knowing in my heart that I would never see or touch my Shaggy again. I proceeded to leave the hospital in tears, but when I got to the door one of the other Vet Technicians that worked there gave me a big hug and told me how much they all also loved my Shaggy.

At 4:00pm that afternoon I received the dreaded phone call to let me know that my beloved Shaggy had crossed the Rainbow Bridge. The doctor told me that Shaggy had two massive tumors, one in each kidney and that there was nothing he could do, so as promised he euthanized my Shaggy while he was still under anesthesia. That evening I messaged Shaggy’s vet to personally thank him and his staff for all they did for my Shaggy throughout the years, for giving me the opportunity to say good bye to my Shaggy, and specially for the love, compassion, and attention they gave him during his last three days of life. Also, I posted an obituary and tribute to my Shaggy on my Face Book page that night.

Although heartbroken, the following day I washed all of Shaggy’s beds, toys, dishes, matts, blankets, combs, brushes, etc. and collected all his food, clothing, colognes, shampoos, collars, and leashes. Some were given away and others were put into plastic bags and put away until I decide what to do with them. I took his name tags off all his collars and placed one of them on my key chain, so it would always be with me.

When I went the following Tuesday, June 13th 2017, to pay Shaggy’s Vet bill, they gave me the blanket he had been wrapped in and a plaster cast of his paw print that they made the day he crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Needless to say I have slept with Shaggy’s blanket every night since then. I placed his paw print cast, his other name tags, his ID cards, and a picture of him in a keepsake box.

Since his departure my Shaggy has been so dearly missed. He will always be loved and he will never ever be forgotten. I thank God for the time he let me have and share with my beloved Shaggy. I will always hold in my heart the precious moments we spent and shared together until we meet again at the Rainbow Bridge… 🌈

Life Without Shaggy:

As the days, weeks, and months have gone by the waves of sadness and tears have been fewer and further apart. Yet, still on occasions there will be a sight, a sound, a smell, or a particular experience that will vividly bring my dear Shaggy to my mind and with it will come an immense wave of sadness and tears. I still miss him cuddling up with me at night, waking me up in the morning, and sitting on my lap. I miss running my fingers through his abundant curly hair, I miss our daily walks and talks, I miss our encounters with other dog walkers, I miss sharing with him my feelings and thoughts, I miss his barking, I miss hugging, kissing and petting him. I miss him playing hide and seek, I miss seeing him run down the hallway to fetch his ball and bring it back, I miss him playing with his many toys and stuffed animals. I miss seeing him take a nap in one of his four beds during the day. In summary, the days and nights have been very lonely, quite, and long without my beloved Shaggy.

The unexpected departure of my dear Shaggy has been a very painful experience. My rational and logical side tells me that all living creatures, be human or animal, are on this earth for a determined period of time. That once that time is up, they die and that is the end of life as we know it. My spiritual side and faith tells me that all living creatures have a soul and that once they die their soles go somewhere where they are reunited with all their loved ones that passed before them until the final judgement day when God will determine their final destination. Yet, still my emotional side would give anything to just see, hear, touch, hug, and kiss my beloved Shaggy one more time.

I have gone through all the stages of loss. I have read on the internet almost all there is about dealing with loss, which has been very helpful. And although my Shaggy has left an immense void and emptiness in my heart and daily life, I am confident that the day will come when I can remember him and talk about him with a smile on my lips and not with tears in my eyes. Hopefully, soon I will be ready and able to rescue or adopt another emotional support animal to share my life with, but until then I will be remembering and missing my beloved Shaggy… 😢
Comments would be appreciated by the author, Madeline Bigelow
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