Eulogy for Shadow

The mornings without her are the worst, in that slip of time between the dream state and the metal glare of remembering Shadow’s not there—that she won’t be eye-level to the bed as she has been for years, drawing me impatiently from my slumber, anxious to start her day.
The world was a big, joyous place, according to Shadow, and I couldn’t help but see it through her eyes. Every morning she’d squeal and clamor as if time were wasting. There were scents outside with clues in the yard, and sticks and pine cones shaken to the ground that couldn’t wait another minute. Oh, get up, get up, she’d insist; the world awaits with endless possibilities!
I am listless in her absence. I do not want to rise from this bed. There is no comfort in this house, yet I cannot bear to walk outside where she used to play. I cannot put my shoes on without remembering how the act sent her into spinning rapture, and there is too much space around me without her underfoot.
I never knew silence could affect me physically, that it could start with a ringing in my ears then land so heavily on my heart. If I rise now, every gesture in the rhythm of my day will lack her, and every movement without purpose in this world now grown flat. I roll to my right and see her toys strewn around her fleece covered bed. I should get up and put her bear and her balls away, find some place to put that pine cone, but I can’t bring myself to disrupt her last arrangement. I want to leave everything as Shadow placed it because I still marvel at the single-mindedness with which she marked her place in the world.
I think I will lie here until her spirit comes wet-nosed to soothe me. I lack the strength to rise to a world that exists without her, and there will be no joy if her spirit does not come. I need to lie here until I remember what joy is; I’ve been too long following her lead and have forgotten how to find it on my own.
I am frozen in this bed with the thought of taking my heart back from Shadow. The prospect seems something I am incapable of, and right now I would rather lie in this pain forever than place one foot to a floor where she does not lay. She was ceaseless, constant, beautiful, unending. She came lovingly, unquestioning, every time I called her name.
Hear now, Shadow, my voice as I call you, “Here pretty girl; baby come home.”

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11 thoughts on “Eulogy for Shadow

  1. Oh, Claire, I feel your pain ((hugs)) Shadow is so lovely. German Shepherds are my favourite breed, we’ve had three and I’d have another tomorrow if I could.

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    1. Ah, Cathy, so you know! Shadow died more than a year ago, and we have two shepherds now. I wrote this eulogy when Shadow died, so there has been a time span, yet I wanted to share my eulogy now with my new WP friends. So many are dog lovers!

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      1. I do. My last Shepherd had to be euthanised 6 years ago when she was only 5. I still think about her. We went for a rescue after that – a Lurcher/Saluki. I wish you lots of happy years with your two 🙂

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  2. Claire, I am so sorry. Through your writing, I feel Shadow’s loss, though I realize she’s been gone a while. But dogs remain in our hearts forever. They are so boundless with their love and acceptance. How can you let go something so loving and forgiving? Wishing you peace.

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  3. Thank you so much, Sharon. I’ll never get over Shadow, and our other female shepherd, whose name was Secret ( as in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets!) We had Secret for 11 and a half years and Shadow for nine. As is common, the two were so bonded that they died within three months of each other. The void was so huge when Shadow died, that a few months later, we got Ceili, who needed a home. Then Secret died ( it was another cataclysmic loss!) and a few months later we got Ronin, our first male shepherd. Our thinking was we should step up and get Ceili a friend. Although no dog could ever replace another, I learned that my life isn’t complete without a dog or two to love. They need us as much as we need them. The thing about dog lovers is they retain the love of each dog forever and never forget their nuances. Although Ceili and Ronin are now SO large in my daily life and such a joy, there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t long for Secret and Shadow!

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  4. My dog is 6 years old now, he is in India while I am in New Zealand. And I hate the fact that when I wake up in the mornings, there is no Jimmy to walk. I don’t want to get up from bed because nothing can replace the fun of walking my dog. I am so sorry for your loss, and from the comments I just read I see there has been multiple losses and now new family members. I love that you were able to get up from the bed and take in more Germans. Tell me this: do they remind you of Shadow and Secret?

    Good luck!

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    1. That’s a good question! Ceili and Ronin are completely different than Secret and Shadow, and I’ll succinctly say how this is so: Secret was a queen, grounded, predictable, protective, dependable, and Shadow was a comedienne in possession of astounding joy and more feral dog traits than I can list here ( but temptation compels me to report that she howled wolf-like at sirens!) Ceili is affectionate, needy, and a little skittish. She embodies sweetness. Now then, Ronin is all male: master of all he surveys, fearless, a natural herder with a gait so magnificent, it makes me want to applaud. All possess ( possessed) GSD traits ( intelligence, responsiveness, loyalty, etc.) but their personalities are clearly individual and defined. I hope your Jimmy is in good hands now, and I hope you see him as soon as you can. Thank you for writing!

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  5. Thanks, DG. It’s been a while since our Shadow died, and we have two other shepherds now, but I wanted to share this here because there are so many dog lover friends, and because Shadow deserves repeated attention!

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