A very sad day

A note from Ken Williams

Roberta and I are VERY sorry to report that our best friend, and long-term cruising companion, Shelby, passed away yesterday. Shelby was 14 years old, and has had heart issues the past five years. We knew that sooner or later her heart would cut her life short, and apparently 14 years was the limit.

As anyone who knows Roberta and I is aware, Shelby traveled by our sides everywhere we went. She had her own European Union passport, and had traveled to Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Siberia, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, France, Italy, Spain the Bahamas, and more. How many dogs can say that they’ve taken a boat across BOTH the Atlantic and the Pacific? Each of these MANY cross border trips required a health inspection and shots. Shelby was always a good sport about the continual trips to the vet, and really didn’t care where we were, as long as she was with us. Her life revolved around us, and ours around hers.

Shelby’s adventures were always a big part of my blog, and we always noticed that pictures of Shelby in the blog would cause a huge spike in readership. The blog won’t be the same without her. Her loss will be felt by many within the boating community and beyond. Over the past 24 hours, there have been a hundred little reminders of how integral to our life she was, from when I woke this morning and automatically turned on my flashlight, so I could make sure I wouldn’t step on her as I headed to the bathroom, to when I went to the coffee pot, and realized Shelby wasn’t there to beg for a cookie, to when I noticed the gate open, and closed it out of reflex…

Last night, I mentioned to Roberta that I didn’t think I could take getting another dog. Their life is just too short, and I can’t imagine going through this again someday. Roberta asked me to focus on the 14 amazing years that Shelby brought us, and all the good times we had together, rather than the way I am feeling now. I suppose she is right, but it sure doesn’t seem like that now.


  Shelby was incredibly cute as a puppy


Shelby’s breed is a “Norwegian Lundehund” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norwegian_Lundehund) . Every dog is special, but Shelby was more unusual than most, and in many ways not very dog-like. She had six toes, and could twist her body into unbelievable configurations. She was a “feral dog”, kind of a wild, only semi-domesticated dog. That said, Shelby never believed she was a dog, and always believed she was as much a part of the family as we were.


How many dogs can still smile when you take them deep into the jungle, complete with alligators?

Shelby – we all miss you.

I posted some pictures of Shelby on the internet. Click here ( http://www.tinyurl.com/ourFriendShelby ) to view them. There is also a comment button you can use, if you’d like to send her a goodbye message.

Ken Williams
www.kensblog.com
Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci 
A Note From Roberta Williams

Our best little friend, Shelby, passed away on Thursday, the 11th of November, 2010, at the age of fourteen years and four months. Over the thirty-eight years of our marriage we have had various pets: dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, goats, fish; basically, the typical animals often seen in a busy family with two boisterous boys. Shelby didn’t come into our lives until our oldest son, DJ, was off to college and our youngest, Chris, was just starting high school after our move from Oakhurst, California to Seattle. A year after our move we were down to only one dog, Arcade, aged two, a Swedish Vallhund; our six-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, Sheba, had just lost a battle with a mysterious disease, unfortunately never diagnosed, a short time after our arrival to Washington. For several months after Sheba’s death, I moped around, feeling sad about her loss – although, our sweet, little Arcade really tried her best to perk me up. Finally, Ken had had enough of the blues and suggested that we get a new puppy. I wasn’t much into the idea at that time as I was busy with what turned out to be my final Sierra On-Line project — designing King’s Quest 8, my last computer game – and, besides, “I had Arcade to cheer me up.”

Undaunted, Ken started searching the classified section of the Seattle Times for interesting-sounding puppies and, one day, he announced that there were some ‘Norwegian Lundehund’ puppies listed. “Isn’t that the same type of dog as Arcade?” he asked me (her, being a Swedish Vallhund – I can see why he might have been confused between a Norwegian Lundehund and a Swedish Vallhund). “No,” I answered, but was immediately intrigued as to what a Norwegian Lundehund might be. So, of course, we had to call and find out! As it turned out, a Norwegian Lundehund is a very interesting type of dog: Used for hunting puffin birds on some of the outlying Norwegian Islands, they climb cliffs and rocks searching for these creatures, have up to seven or eight toes per foot – to help them climb – and crawl into the puffin tunnels in the cliffs to pull out the birds for their Norwegian owners. They also have an extra vertebra in their neck so that they can twist their heads backwards to an astounding degree, touching the top of their heads to their shoulders. This dexterity helps them to turn around in the tight puffin tunnels to get back out again. Agile like a cat, they have a look remarkably similar to small foxes.

You know the punch line: To satisfy our curiosity about these unusual-sounding dogs, we went to visit the breeder and take a look at the puppies. Two hours later, we were on our way home toting the cutest, little six-week-old puppy ever! While driving, I told Ken that her name would be Shelby. He looked at me and asked me where that name came from as it seemed to have come out of left-field; we hadn’t discussed any names, hadn’t known that we would be getting a puppy when we got up that morning, and I hadn’t mentioned that I had been thinking of any names. But we had just gone to see a theater play a couple of nights before and the main character’s name was Shelby – I had thought it an interesting name. When I looked into this little puppy’s eyes, I knew right off that her name was Shelby – and it fit her to a tee; people always commented that she looked like a ‘Shelby.’

Shelby traveled the world with us after Chris went off to college. She loved to travel! Cars, planes, trains, boats – especially boats! Like Ken and I, traveling and seeing new places was her passion. She was always excited when those suitcases came out because, more often than not, she would go with us and she loved it! In case you’re wondering, we also traveled with Arcade, but she never did cotton to it much, and, as such, we sometimes left her at home with friends or family. But Shelby would go because she adored it so much. She was the greatest traveling companion that a pair of world-trekkers could ask for! She also just loved being with us – she was definitely ‘into’ Ken and I – and, I think, would have put up with just about anything in order to be with us. (Arcade passed away five years ago at the age of eleven of ehrlichiosis – a tick borne bacterial infection, caused by an undiscovered tick bite in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. By the time we figured it out, it was too late. Even though Shelby was the greatest traveling companion and, in general, stealer of our hearts, Arcade had the sweetest personality I have ever seen in a dog. She loved everybody: people, children, babies – especially babies! – other dogs, cats. Her death was untimely, tragic, and very, very sad as well.)

Of all of the pets (dogs, mainly) that Ken and I have had over the years, for some reason, Shelby wormed her way into our hearts so thoroughly that she became almost a part of us; so intertwined and integrated into our very fiber that, now, upon her death, it feels like a huge chunk ripped from our hearts, leaving a gaping hole. At least, that is what it felt like last night and this morning. But, now, this afternoon, I know better: there is no hole, no chasm. In reality, she had crawled down into a very deep place in our hearts – burrowed there, if you will – and is now encapsulated in her own special niche. That is the pain that we’re feeling: the ache of this place where she is now – and will always be for the rest of our lives. She is still with us; she will always be carried with us. She made sure that we would never go anywhere without her!

Today, the day after Shelby’s passing, I look around our home and see her everywhere: her dog bed, her toys, her special goodies, her toothbrush and toothpaste, her leash and collar, water bowl and food bowl. I cleaned her food and water bowls and put them away, but I haven’t the will yet to do anything with the rest of her things. I actually found myself picking up some of the dog hair left on her bed and crying over them.

Shelby will be so missed. My heart is aching as I write this, but she did live life to the absolute fullest and had just about the best ‘dog life’ that any canine could wish for!

Rest in Peace, Shelby – we love you!



24 Responses

  1. Ken & Roberta –
    After hearing the news this evening of the Seattle couple captured by Somalia pirates, I decided to check in on you to see your reaction. Unfortunately the first thing I saw was the post about your Shelby. I am so sorry for each of you, and can relate to Ken when he states it is too hard to think about having another pet having been down that road twice. I too have stated that, but fortunately, my family showed me that there is nothing like the love from a pet. The short years we get with them is full of more love and devotion than a human lifetime could ever give.

    To put an ironic spin on all of this, I just finished reading a novel given to me by my sons girlfriend. Her name is Shelby. It is a simple read by author Garth Stein and is titled The Art Of Racing In The Rain. The setting is in Seattle, and I promise it will tug at your heart strings while at the same time make you believe in a higher power.

    Again, sorry for your loss. I look forward to tracking your 2011 adventure. Take care.

  2. Dear Ken and Roberta,
    First may I offer my sincerest condolences on your sad lost. I too have suffered the loss of a pet and have also said I will never get another one. suffice it to say it took all but 6 months for me to realise that there was a gap in my life that needed filling (I now have 2 siberian Huskies)
    A pets love is unconditional, never asking for anything and always giving so much.
    A pet is more then just a pet, they are an extension of out families and in most cases take more looking after then our children.

    Shelby was 14 years young, not many pets reach this age, She lived a full and happy life(I know this because I’ve seen her photos and in all of them she is smiling and looks content) I hope you reconsider your decision about not having another one. It will fill your heart with joy and laughter as have mine 🙂

    Kindest Regards
    George

  3. Sorry to hear of Shelby’s passing. I really enjoyed hearing about your adventures with her. Losing a beloved pet is never easy and words can never truly express how very sad I feel for you both.

  4. Ken & Roberta,

    So sorry for your loss. Any reader of your blog would quickly come to the realization of how intregal Shelby was to your lives.

    I sometimes initially would shake my head when reading of some tremendous effort, or errant detour you took in your travels in order to be able to clear her through a country, or ensure her comfort, until I reflected on the love I’ve shared with dogs throughout my life, and realized there was nothing different I would have done.

    Shelby enriched your lives beyond measure.

    Thanks for sharing her in with all of us.

    My sympathies,

    Mark in Jacksonville

  5. SUBJECT: Sorry for your loss…

    Ken and Roberta, I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Shelby. Shelby was a good good canine citizen and will be missed in my reading of your blog entries on your world travels. I know how hard it is to lose a pet friend/family member and in time the hurt will diminish and the fond memories will always be there. My thoughts go out to you both, Annie

  6. SUBJECT: Re: A very sad day

    Ken and Roberta:
    My heart goes out to you. I know how much you loved Shelby and how she was such a special part of your family.
    Ted and I are dog lovers and we understand your great loss.
    We are so sorry,Ted and AlexiaOn Nov 12, 2010, at 5:28 PM, ken@k… wrote:

    A note from Ken Williams
    Roberta and I are VERY sorry to report that our best friend, and long-term cruising companion, Shelby, passed away yesterday. Shelby was 14 years old, and has had heart issues the past five years. We knew that sooner or later her heart would cut her life short, and apparently 14 years was the limit.

    As anyone who knows Roberta and I is aware, Shelby traveled by our sides everywhere we went. She had her own European Union passport, and had traveled to Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Siberia, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, France, Italy, Spain the Bahamas, and more. How many dogs can say that they’ve taken a boat across BOTH the Atlantic and the Pacific? Each of these MANY cross border trips required a health inspection and shots. Shelby was always a good sport about the continual trips to the vet, and really didn’t care where we were, as long as she was with us. Her life revolved around us, and ours around hers.

    Shelby’s adventures were always a big part of my blog, and we always noticed that pictures of Shelby in the blog would cause a huge spike in readership. The blog won’t be the same without her. Her loss will be felt by many within the boating community and beyond. Over the past 24 hours, there have been a hundred little reminders of how integral to our life she was, from when I woke this morning and automatically turned on my flashlight, so I could make sure I wouldn’t step on her as I headed to the bathroom, to when I went to the coffee pot, and realized Shelby wasn’t there to beg for a cookie, to when I noticed the gate open, and closed it out of reflex…

    Last night, I mentioned to Roberta that I didn’t think I could take getting another dog. Their life is just too short, and I can’t imagine going through this again someday. Roberta asked me to focus on the 14 amazing years that Shelby brought us, and all the good times we had together, rather than the way I am feeling now. I suppose she is right, but it sure doesn’t seem like that now.

    Shelby was incredibly cute as a puppy

    Shelby’s breed is a “Norwegian Lundehund” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wik (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norwegian_Lundehund)) . Every dog is special, but Shelby was more unusual than most, and in many ways not very dog-like. She had six toes, and could twist her body into unbelievable configurations. She was a “feral dog”, kind of a wild, only semi-domesticated dog. That said, Shelby never believed she was a dog, and always believed she was as much a part of the family as we were.

    How many dogs can still smile when you take them deep into the jungle, complete with alligators?

    Shelby – we all miss you.

    I posted some pictures of Shelby on the internet. Click here ( http://www.tinyurl.com/ourF (http://www.tinyurl.com/ourFriendShelby) ) to view them. There is also a comment button you can use, if you’d like to send her a goodbye message.
    Ken Williams
    http://www.kensblog.com (http://www.kensblog.com)
    Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci
    A Note From Roberta Williams
    Our best little friend, Shelby, passed away on Thursday, the 11th of November, 2010, at the age of fourteen years and four months. Over the thirty-eight years of our marriage we have had various pets: dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, goats, fish; basically, the typical animals often seen in a busy family with two boisterous boys. Shelby didn’t come into our lives until our oldest son, DJ, was off to college and our youngest, Chris, was just starting high school after our move from Oakhurst, California to Seattle. A year after our move we were down to only one dog, Arcade, aged two, a Swedish Vallhund; our six-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, Sheba, had just lost a battle with a mysterious disease, unfortunately never diagnosed, a short time after our arrival to Washington. For several months after Sheba’s death, I moped around, feeling sad about her loss – although, our sweet, little Arcade really tried her best to perk me up. Finally, Ken had had enough of the blues and suggested that we get a new puppy. I wasn’t much into the idea at that time as I was busy with what turned out to be my final Sierra On-Line project — designing King’s Quest 8, my last computer game – and, besides, “I had Arcade to cheer me up.”

    Undaunted, Ken started searching the classified section of the Seattle Times for interesting-sounding puppies and, one day, he announced that there were some ‘Norwegian Lundehund’ puppies listed. “Isn’t that the same type of dog as Arcade?” he asked me (her, being a Swedish Vallhund – I can see why he might have been confused between a Norwegian Lundehund and a Swedish Vallhund). “No,” I answered, but was immediately intrigued as to what a Norwegian Lundehund might be. So, of course, we had to call and find out! As it turned out, a Norwegian Lundehund is a very interesting type of dog: Used for hunting puffin birds on some of the outlying Norwegian Islands, they climb cliffs and rocks searching for these creatures, have up to seven or eight toes per foot – to help them climb – and crawl into the puffin tunnels in the cliffs to pull out the birds for their Norwegian owners. They also have an extra vertebra in their neck so that they can twist their heads backwards to an astounding degree, touching the top of their heads to their shoulders. This dexterity helps them to turn around in the tight puffin tunnels to get back out again. Agile like a cat, they have a look remarkably similar to small foxes.

    You know the punch line: To satisfy our curiosity about these unusual-sounding dogs, we went to visit the breeder and take a look at the puppies. Two hours later, we were on our way home toting the cutest, little six-week-old puppy ever! While driving, I told Ken that her name would be Shelby. He looked at me and asked me where that name came from as it seemed to have come out of left-field; we hadn’t discussed any names, hadn’t known that we would be getting a puppy when we got up that morning, and I hadn’t mentioned that I had been thinking of any names. But we had just gone to see a theater play a couple of nights before and the main character’s name was Shelby – I had thought it an interesting name. When I looked into this little puppy’s eyes, I knew right off that her name was Shelby – and it fit her to a tee; people always commented that she looked like a ‘Shelby.’

    Shelby traveled the world with us after Chris went off to college. She loved to travel! Cars, planes, trains, boats – especially boats! Like Ken and I, traveling and seeing new places was her passion. She was always excited when those suitcases came out because, more often than not, she would go with us and she loved it! In case you’re wondering, we also traveled with Arcade, but she never did cotton to it much, and, as such, we sometimes left her at home with friends or family. But Shelby would go because she adored it so much. She was the greatest traveling companion that a pair of world-trekkers could ask for! She also just loved being with us – she was definitely ‘into’ Ken and I – and, I think, would have put up with just about anything in order to be with us. (Arcade passed away five years ago at the age of eleven of ehrlichiosis – a tick borne bacterial infection, caused by an undiscovered tick bite in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. By the time we figured it out, it was too late. Even though Shelby was the greatest traveling companion and, in general, stealer of our hearts, Arcade had the sweetest personality I have ever seen in a dog. She loved everybody: people, children, babies – especially babies! – other dogs, cats. Her death was untimely, tragic, and very, very sad as well.)

    Of all of the pets (dogs, mainly) that Ken and I have had over the years, for some reason, Shelby wormed her way into our hearts so thoroughly that she became almost a part of us; so intertwined and integrated into our very fiber that, now, upon her death, it feels like a huge chunk ripped from our hearts, leaving a gaping hole. At least, that is what it felt like last night and this morning. But, now, this afternoon, I know better: there is no hole, no chasm. In reality, she had crawled down into a very deep place in our hearts – burrowed there, if you will – and is now encapsulated in her own special niche. That is the pain that we’re feeling: the ache of this place where she is now – and will always be for the rest of our lives. She is still with us; she will always be carried with us. She made sure that we would never go anywhere without her!

    Today, the day after Shelby’s passing, I look around our home and see her everywhere: her dog bed, her toys, her special goodies, her toothbrush and toothpaste, her leash and collar, water bowl and food bowl. I cleaned her food and water bowls and put them away, but I haven’t the will yet to do anything with the rest of her things. I actually found myself picking up some of the dog hair left on her bed and crying over them.

    Shelby will be so missed. My heart is aching as I write this, but she did live life to the absolute fullest and had just about the best ‘dog life’ that any canine could wish for!

    Rest in Peace, Shelby – we love you!

    You can access the blog entry here.

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  7. Dear Ken and Roberta, My deepest sympathy at the loss of your dear friend and constant companion,Shelby.
    I, too, lost my beloved yellow lab, Sandie at 14 years old. After a lifetime spent with many wonderful canine companions, Sadie was the BEST! She went everywhere with me — even to work — waiting patiently in my truck. As a single woman, her companionship was priceless.
    Take heart, Ken, after a year of mourning, someone plopped a five week old labradoodle in my lap and I was in love! For me, the love, devotion and companionship
    that they bring unselfishly outweighs the most painful loss.

  8. Ken and Roberta,
    My deepest sympathy for your loss. Having just got a puppy 2 months ago (our families’ first pet) I am only now beginning to understand the depth of that kind of relationship. I know you’ll treasure the memories…
    Yair

  9. condolences to your family on the passing of shelby. those without pets can’t begin to imagine how much a part of a family they become. she’ll be missed in your reports. jon

  10. SUBJECT: Re: A very sad day

    A sad day indeed guys. A loss of a pet/member of the family is hard indeed. I really feel for the both of you. Take care.
    Best regards
    Roger

  11. Ken and Roberta,

    I’m so sorry for the loss of Shelby. I lost my golden retriever Sadie in 2004 after 15 years with her (ironically just several weeks before my mother passed away). I can still remember vividly the pain of that day and so know what you are both feeling now. I have enjoyed very much reading about your adventures with Shelby, and the great lengths you both went though to make sure she could travel the world. What a wonderful dog, and great companion! I hope her memories will always fill you both with great joy. 🙂

    Best wishes,
    Mike

  12. Dear Ken and Roberta,
    I challenge any dog owner to exceed the care and love you gave to Shelby. As I read your email I recalled one of your past stories about designing the new boat with a door just for Shelby and I smiled. May the memories of the joy you shared with her calm the ache in your hearts. Best regards, Ed

  13. The pain we feel when we loose a family member is the measurement of the love one held for that departed soul. You will grow accustom to the pain. It will be replaced with nothing but fond memories. God bless Shelby. God bless you and Ken for giving her a wonderful life.

    Larry Colgan

  14. Shelby truly was a special dog. Impossible to describe. Always smiling. Always shaking her kinked little tail and looking up at you with her open mouth, crooked teeth and eyes that seemed JUST A LITTLE too big for her head. She was the best. I never lived with her, but if she was my parents child, then … she was my sister. I loved her. I miss her. Shelby, you’ve brought me so many smiles! I played with you just a few days ago, and … as usual, you made me smile. I’m just going to focus on that one last smile … and try to make it last. You are missed.

  15. Ken & Roberta,

    I feel for your loss. I had the task of putting down my mother’s last dog of almost 16 years. There wasn’t any way that she could do it, and it was difficult on the both of us, even though I hadn’t been there more than ½ its life. Little did I know that less than a week later my would mom pass away too. Although I am sure they are both back together now.

    I had always been around dogs my whole life. My father passed when I was very young, and my mom became a professional breeder for almost my whole life, and her dogs always gave her companionship and comfort. Most of the time we would always have 3 or 4 dogs, from champion show dogs to mutts, and they always gave us a smile when we were down going through life. Every litter that we would have was tough, as a child I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t keep all the cute puppies, and I would get attached to them. They would have to move on to their new families.

    My heart and prayers go out to your silent world traveler, I know she will be missed but remember all of the good times and places that all of you have been.

    Sincerely,
    Chris

  16. SUBJECT: Re: A very sad day

    Ken, so sorry to hear about Shelby. We know she meant a lot to you both and was part of the family. I worry also about the day we loose our 10 year old Daisy. Dog’s do become part of your family and like you we take Daisy everywhere. At least you know she had a good life and you and Roberta enjoyed those years with her. Take care.

    John & Maria Torelli

  17. I have grown close to Shelby through your writings. Your love for her is certainly shown by your comments here. I’m sure Shelby knew of your feelings and it must have been as great joy to her as she was to you.

  18. Sad day indeed, she really looked like she enjoyed travelling with you guys.

    I lost my dalmatian when se was 4 years old. We were walking when she simply fainted to death, suddenly.

    Keep your morale up ! You both have a great life, and I’m sure you will keep the best of Shelby with you.

    Take Care,

    Nic.

  19. Sorry to hear about Shelby. I still remember the picture you posted where you were carrying Shelby. It was very touching. My 85 year old mother has a dog (Truman) and I dread the day he passes away. It will be very hard on her. Dogs are the best Ken, the best.

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