|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’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.
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!