An excerpt of

“Section II: Beginning my new life in Charlottesville, and searching for my first dog”
from the boo

“Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog”
!c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved* +earn abo(t Shayna and the boo at shaynathemiracledog*com B(y the boo at Ama)on*com Info: ,ons(t)-yahoo*com

.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved*

/age %

How I defined what I (thought I) was looking for in my first dog
When I began searching for my first dog, the most important criteria I sought was a “connection” – of a sense that there is a spiritual compatibility between us. As a graphic designer and visual thinker, though, I suppose it was inevitable that ever since I started thinking about getting my first dog, a pretty clear picture formed in my mind of the general characteristics that I thought I! was looking for"
 

A brightly#colored male puppy that would grow into a relatively large dog Athletic, en$oys the outdoors

%ased on my interaction with dogs in the past, the ones I really seemed to adore more than others were pure or mi&ed breeds of the 'erman (hepard, )ab, and 'olden *etriever varieties. %uying a dog from a breeder was, to me, out of the +uestion. I knew that animal shelters had lots of dogs available, and my conscience wouldn,t allow me to look elsewhere. I was far more interested in what I could discover about individual dogs, so long as they matched the general characteristics I was seeking. What I didn’t count on was how long and frustrating this search would be, or how much soul#searching it would re+uire.

A deeper definition: A friend, with the potential for love
A scene from one of my favorite movies by -ameron -rowe, “Say Anything” ./0/1 trailer! comes to mind about now" 2iane" I just can’t have any social life right now. )loyd" Don't worry about it. We’re just having coffee. We’ll be anti social. 2iane" !e friends" )loyd" #eah. With $otential. 2iane" %riends& with $otential. I3ve known lots of people with dogs. (ome were members of the family, but barely1 they slept in the basement or outside, they romped with the kids, but were generally kept out of sight much of the time, and almost always when guests were present. 4or others, such as friends I had on ranches in Ari5ona, their dogs did practical tasks, and were work companions, as well as “friends.” %ut as I began my +uest, there was one person from my distant past who stood out and served as a role model for me" my friend 6evin 2i7ia55a, who I met in ./08 while living in 7hoeni&. 9o visit 6evin was to also visit his beloved dogs – “*ainbow,” an Australian (hepard, “:amaica,” a *ottweiler, and a few other strays that he found or who found him!.

.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved*

/age #

Wherever he was in his house, that,s where they were usually found as opposed to in his big backyard!. And often, as he drove around town, *ainbow and :amaica were with him. It became impossible to imagine 6evin without his beloved dogs. !ut what really stood out to 'e was the un'ista(able love that they shared) the way he looked at them – and them, at him, as their beloved father and very best friend, rolled up into one. 9here was also a sense of total trust – the kind of trust that I knew must be earned, on both sides. Another good e&ample of what I was looking for or rather, was hoping to earn! was captured in a picture of ;ary -hapin -arpenter. <n page = of the booklet for her -2 “*arty Doll and +ther %avorites” is a picture of her sitting on a sofa, reading something, but her arms are wrapped around what appears to be a 'olden *etriever, whose head is nestled against her chest. 9he dog looks as if that is e&actly where it most wants to be, and where it was destined to be" cuddling up with “mom.” 9o see that picture, and to know what a sensitive yet strong soul ;ary has, I anticipate that her relationship with this dog is or was! as important to her as any she ever had. And to look at them together, it is apparent, at least to me, that the love between them was earned1 that you could not strike a pose like that if it were staged. ,-o learn 'ore about 'y ad'iration for .ary/ and how her 'usic and s$irit hel$ed to both ins$ire and heal 'e after 0122/ see here.3 I aspired to what 6evin and ;ary en$oyed, and had earned with their dogs. I believed that, given the right circumstances, I could earn that kind of love, and trust, and make a dog with whom I am compatible very happy. %ut I knew that such a relationship cannot be ordered up from Ama5on.com, or even an animal shelter. >either can one call an 0?? number and say, “I want what she's having/” as in the classic restaurant fake#orgasm scene from “When 4arry .et Sally.”

Wondering if I should maybe concentrate on fully healing myself, before trying to find the right! first dog for me
I also felt it would be very important to look at my situation in a very dispassionate, ob$ective manner, and contemplate whether I was really in a position to fulfill the promise I would be making to the puppy I selected" to give him@her a loving, “forever” home, and learn to do all the things that are necessary to raise him@her correctly. As a former advertising copywriter, and given my previous life, I,m acutely aware of how easy it is to make promises. And while every marriage begins with a promise – to love, honor and remain faithful your spouse, Atil death – today, marriages are as disposable as diapers. ;y own parents made such a promise to each other, and to 'od, in a religious ceremony, even though I believe that deep down, they both knew that theirs was a sham, a marriage of convenience, not of love, or respect, and was therefore a lie from the startB. I was trapped in the vorte& of the nightmare they created, and was sub$ected to, and witnessed things that no child should e&perience, as a result of that lie.

.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved*

/age &

After taking inventory of myself, however, and $udging how well I,d fulfilled other promises I,d made since becoming a functional adult – to my employers and clients, to my friends, to 7atricia, and to my mother – I came to believe that although I was in deep grief and mourning, I had the raw makings of a good dog owner. “Sure/” I said to myself, “I could wait another five/ ten or twenty years 5 but for what" 6ntil I'' absolutely certain that I could be a good dog owner" 4ow can one ever be absolutely certain about such a thing"” I decided it was time to roll the dice. #ou can’t connect the dots loo(ing forward7 you can only connect the' loo(ing bac(wards. So you have to trust that the dots will so'ehow connect in your future. #ou have to trust in so'ething 5 your gut/ destiny/ life/ (ar'a/ whatever. -his a$$roach has never let 'e down/ and it has 'ade all the difference in 'y life. # (teve :obs 9his was obviously a different kind of gamble, and a high#stakes one, because if I failed at this, I would not be the only one to pay the price" whatever precious little puppy I chose would also pay the price. And while I could of course give him@her up to a shelter, that puppy would likely feel – as my first childhood dog didB – “What did I do wrong/ to deserve this fate"” And I could not do that. 7eriod. ,89ead the full version of “.y :ife !efore Shayna/” for details about these issues.3

"he search began: I became a regular at the local #A$%#A
4or an hour or so each day, five, si& or even seven days a week, I was at the -A(7-A, looking at all the puppies. As my search wore on, I reali5ed what +uiet heroes its employees and volunteers really are. 9he ones with whom I interacted the most – primarily (haye and 6im – worked their hearts out every day to give rescued animals a comfortable temporary home, medical attention, and help match them with appropriate adopters. Is there any more noble work than thatC I soon discovered the simple $oy of visiting an animal shelter when it,s not $am#packed with people, such as on weekday mornings, when I was able to “interview” puppies to my heart,s content. And I discovered the magic that is inherent in puppies" their sparkling eyes, their breath, their desire to play, their budding personalities the good, the bad, and otherwise!, that draws me to them like a magnet. 9he first value I received from my interaction with so many puppies was how, through them, I was able to start seeing the world anew, through their completely honest, mostly! unin$ured, optimistic eyes. 9hrough the e+uivalent of a child,s eyes1 eyes that I once had, but which were difficult to see out of, through the tears that defined so much of my childhood – and which still clouded my vision, periodically. As I would take each pup for a walk, I could see that to them, most everything in the world was brand new, absolutely fascinating, and worth stopping to e&amine, and sniff, in
.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved* /age 0

detail. 9he gum wrapper on the ground1 the piece of string in a bush1 the little flower seedling $ust budding up through the crack in the sidewalk1 the sticky puddle of long#ago spilled soda on the concrete. I e&pand on this theme in “:ife :esson ;2) A $u$$y can reintroduce you to the world... and yourself ”!. ;y first inclination, upon the endless interruptions of our walks, was for efficiency1 to tell the pup, “<’'on buddy= :et’s go $lay ball over there=/” in the enclosed, designated “play area.” I didn3t want to “waste time.” %ut that “little voice” inside me said" Sto$. :et this $u$ enjoy e>actly what he is enjoying. See the world/ anew/ through his eyes. ?>a'ine every little bit of it/ with hi'. #ou’re in no hurry. And so I did – joyously. I vividly recall, on regular occasions, getting down on my hands and knees and looking at, and sniffing what the pup did... to his delight, that we could do this together. 9hat I was following his lead. 9hat what he saw, and thought, and felt, was i'$ortant. If there,s a more blissful way to spend time with one3s clothes on, please let me know. I found a few pups that I liked, but none felt like the “right” one. In a way, it was heartbreaking, and frustrating – because as I describe in a moment, this was probably the most imprecise task to which I ever applied myself. Dow does anyone know for certain when the “right” anything comes along, when it involves feelingsC It,s not like finding a software program or computer that has the basic features that one is looking for, to perform one,s work. 4or a literalistic, evidence#based thinker like me, who was e&periencing deep grief, this process was maddening at times.

I learned how time impacts everything in the adoption process
As my search wore on, I became keenly aware of the “time factor” – that $ust because a particular pup that may have interested me was there one day, it didn3t mean he,d be there the ne>t day. (ome get adopted very +uickly, while other languish, for whatever reason. (o, as my time was my own for this little window in my life, I visited the -A(7-A as often as I could, to e&pose myself to the widest possible range of “candidates” for my first dog. (ome -A(7-A employees told me how much they wished all adopters had the lu&ury of time that I did, and could devote that level of thought and investigation to the adoption decision. 9hey shared with me stories of unnamed! families that would come in, the parents having no idea what kind of dog they wanted, in general, and feeling rushed to make a decision. <r worse, that their kids saw a movie or 9E show and fell in love with one kind of dog, because of the way it looked or acted or was 'ade to look, or act, through training or movie magic!, without knowing or caring! that each breed has its own characteristics, and needs – and that each individual dog has its own personality. >eedless to say, this often led to tragedy, for both the dog and the family. I learned that in many cases, the family didn3t learn about breed#specific traits that could easily have
.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved* /age 1

been foreseen with a little research, or wasn,t willing to do the re+uisite work to correct behavioral problems. ;any of these dogs were either returned, or donated to another shelter, or given away. (ome ended up being euthani5ed, through no fault of their own, but because the wrong person adopted them, and didn,t assume full responsibility for caring for them, through thick and thin. 9o me, the thought of giving my dog away because I failed him was unthinkable – unless it was a dangerous situation that I had sincerely tried to rectify, but failed. I could never knowingly inflict that kind of mental trauma on a dog1 of handing him off like a used suitcase to another person, because he didn,t fit my lifestyle anymore. 9he dog I ended up adopting would be not $ust a part of my family, but my entire local family, until one or the other of us was no more. (ome may ask, “Don’t you thin( you 'ay have over thought all of this/ just a bit" I 'ean/ it’s just a dog that we’re tal(ing about.” ;y answer is" “@o/” on both counts. 4irst, this was going to be one of the most conse+uential decisions I,d ever made, with implications that could stretch for many years. (econd, while some may view a dog as being “$ust a dumb animal,” I knew that most aren,t1 they are sensitive, loving, emotional creatures who deserve the very best we can give them, especially if we make the commitment to take them into our homes, and become part of our families. >ot everyone sees this issue as I do, I know. %ut at that point in my life, with all the crushing pain I was e&periencing, and the residue and legacy of my childhood bubbling up at unpredictable times, I wanted desperately to believe in so'ething. In anything. In 'e. 4or that moment, the only thing I could believe in was my capacity to live up to the commitments I would make to my first dog. (o I went back to the -A(7-A, day after day, week after week, with hope in my heart.

.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved*

/age 2

&!II" B.3I44I43 56 4.7 +I8., A49 S.A:C;I43 8<: 56 8I:S= 9<3

(') "he search became difficult, and long

How poor are hey ha have no pa ience! "ha wo#nd did ever heal $# $y degrees% & “' hello,” by 7illiam Sha espeare

.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved*

/age >

An internal conflict emerged: “Am I being a selfish elitist?”
As my search wore on, and weeks turned into months, several +uestions emerged in my mind, which really shook me to my core" Who a' I to judge which $u$$y is the “right” one for 'e 5 and how will I (now" Against what standard can this answer be 'easured/ so I (now it's valid" Should I go with $ure i'$ulse/ or stic( to 'y original criteria 5 of a brightly colored 'ale Aolden 9etriever/ :ab/ or Aer'an She$ard/ or 'i> thereof" Why a' I being so su$erficial" Aren’t I a 'utt/ a 'i> of Austrian/ 9ussian and *olish ancestry/ and a bit of an odd loo(ing character/ who's always resented being judged on that basis" #et now/ aren’t I doing the e>act sa'e thing/ at least in $art/ to the dogs I encounter" A' I being a selfish elitist for wanting to wait for a dog that 'eets the $hysical criteria that I envision" Don’t every one of these $u$$ies 5 each beautiful in its own way 5 deserve a loving/ Bforever ho'e’ 5 right now/ today" And who a' I to say/ “@o/ you’re not good enough/ or what I’' loo(ing for”" 9hat last +uestion really got me, every time. ?very one of those $u$$ies deserved an individual, couple or family who would love and nurture them, and provide them with training, compassion and encouragement. ?very one of the' deserved this – the beautiful ones, the odd#looking ones, the purebreds and the Dein5#8Fs1 the ones with behavioral “issues,” whether overly#dominant, spastic, or withdrawn and frightened. ?very one of the' deserved to leave the -A(7-A destined not $ust for a new place to lay their head, but a real/ honest#to#goodness ho'e, where they,ll feel loved, valued and protected. I started to feel terrible guilt. Who was I to decide which puppy gets a home with me, and which doesn,tC 9o decide which will have the chance to en$oy the great life that I will work hard to give him or her, and which will be made to take a chance with someone else – with absolutely no choice in the matterC Ges, I know, we,re “only” talking about a dog here, not a person. %ut again – to me, this was not like making a commitment to make payments on a vehicle1 this was a living, sentient creature, to whom I would be making a lifetime commitment. I knew that the fastest, easiest way to end my frustration and guilt would have been to simply take the first puppy of any kind, for which I felt some affection, and hope for the best. 9he only “deal#breaker” that I anticipated was e&cessive barking. 4irst, because I couldn,t handle it, and second, because I was living in a pretty small apartment at the time, with lots of other people in close pro&imity. While I assumed that problem could be worked
.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved* /age ?

out by an e&perienced trainer, I didn,t feel it would be right for me to bring such a puppy into that environment, and make my neighbors suffer and hate me!, until the problem was resolved. <utside of that, though, any dog that fit my general criteria was, technically, a contender. 9hat put a lot of puppies into contention, at once. And my guilt continued, because of it. Get that “little voice” in my head kept holding me back. If I were to summari5e what it kept saying, it was basically" Wait/ Con& just wait. -here’s no hurry. -his is your ti'e. -his ti'e/ you’re going to be s'art. #ou’ve got to harden your heart/ to hel$ ensure that you’re loo(ing at this not only fro' an e'otional $ers$ective/ but also fro' a $ractical and rationally self interested one. .eaning/ you have to 'a(e sure that the fit is right for you7 if you do this 'ostly or even $artly out of $ure charity/ this is going to end badly 5 very badly. -his ti'e/ you’re going to wait. It will be worth it. And so, more weeks went by. I met a few dogs that came close to what I thought I was looking for, and from whom I felt good vibes. Get that “little voice” kept echoing in my mind" Wait... wait/ it will be worth it. As the weeks turned into months, I began getting really discouraged, and even more down on myself. 9he -A(7-A staff had no more advice to offer. I think I,d become something of a conversation piece there probably not in a positive sense!. Although I,m a friendly guy, as the weeks wore on, I got the sense that some of the staff started getting a little annoyed. Which spurred me to think, I should $ust adopt a puppy, and be done with it. 2uring this three#month span, I went through +uite an emotional roller coaster, waiting for a thunderbolt that would tell me, “-4IS is the right $u$$y for 'e. -4IS is the one I’ve been waiting for.” And then, another thought hit me" What if, as in the romantic aspect of my life, finding the right puppy means I,ll be waiting for a very long timeC As I describe in the full version of (ection I, it took until age HI .//?! to meet the girl that made me feel the Jarth move under my feet and then, I completely messed up, in large part because I waited too long to say anything!. It wasn,t until .//0 that I met 7atricia, and while I loved her deeply, it was not the same. !ut that “little voice” in 'y head (e$t holding 'e bac(. 9he -A(7-A staff knew I was getting impatient, and I remember one of them gently teased me, “What/ none of our $u$s are good enough for you"” I knew what she meant. %ut I, too, was getting tired of hearing myself trying to e&plain to them, and friends, what I was feeling and not!. I decided to give myself until ;onday, ;arch H8, H??H to find the “right” puppy for me, and if I didn,t, I would discontinue my search at the -A(7-A. 7erhaps I would take a break

.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved*

/age @

and reconsider, or start visiting other (7-As in -entral Eirginia, or start looking online. And then, $ust when I was about to give up... ...it ha$$ened.

*

.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved*

/age %$

!II" B.3I44I43 56 4.7 +I8., A49 S.A:C;I43 8<: 56 8I:S= 9<3

(() “And !st "hen I "as abo!t to give !#$$$”

(o# see, yo# closed yo#r eyes) *ha was he difference) Some imes yo# canno $elieve wha yo# see, yo# have o $elieve wha yo# feel) And if yo# are ever going o have o her people r#s yo#, yo# m#s feel ha yo# can r#s hem, oo & even when yo#+re in he dar,) -ven when yo#+re falling) & “*#esdays "i h Morrie,” by 5itch Albom

.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved*

/age %%

<n ;onday, ;arch H8, H??H, I went into the -A(7-A for what I thought was going to be the last time at least for the initial phase of my search!. As I approached the front desk to get permission to go back to the puppy cages, one of the staffers I wish I could remember her name! said, “Well/ we got a cou$le of new $u$$ies in/ but they’re not what you’re loo(ing for.” I responded, “What do you 'ean"” (he said, “-hey’re twin sisters 5 and they’re all blac(.” <h, man. Another letdown. I thought to myself, “I’' in dee$ grief and 'ourning here= Who in this situation would want an all blac( dog" It’d be too de$ressing=” I,d never shared with anyone at the -A(7-A the details of my past life and losses. 9hey only knew that a lot of really bad things had recently happened to me, that I,d moved up here from far away, and was looking for my first puppy, and I described to them, in general, what I thought I! was looking for. ;ost of all, they knew I was looking for a connection – a feeling that “this is the one.” An all blac( dogCC <h, man. %ut then, that “little voice” in my mind returned, and said" Don’t be a jer(= #ou’ve wondered if you were acting li(e an elitist jer( before" @+W/ you’re acting li(e one. What have you got to lose by chec(ing those $u$$ies out" It won’t cost you anything/ it’ll only ta(e a 'inute/ and who (nows/ it 'ight be fun. I asked which cage these new pups were located in, and went back. As it turned out, they were in the first cage in a long row, right behind a concrete divider wall. I approached that wall with ambivalence, and I recall thinking to myself" Alright/ after I chec( these $u$s out/ 'aybe I’ll ta(e 'yself out to lunch. So'ething to sort of co''e'orate the end of the search for 'y first dog at this shelter.

"wo in)ured yet hopeful spirits meet
I turned the corner, and looked down through the wire#mesh door that separated me from the pups in this cage. Actually, there was only one in the cage – Shayna. Der twin later adopted, and named %ailey! had gone through the rubber flap at the back, and was in the outdoor, communal play area at that moment. )ooking down, I saw a tiny, big#pawed bundle of shiny, $et#black fur sitting right in the center of the cage, her bright chestnut eyes looking up at me, her tail wagging slowly. (he sat facing the door to her cage, as if she3d been waiting for someone to arrive. I moved directly in front of the cage. Der eyes remained locked on me, but she didn,t move. (he did have a big smile on her face, though. I was still +uite apprehensive.
.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved* /age %#

9he first thing I detected was how bright her aura was" she seemed to radiate happiness, curiosity and fun. 9he second thing I noticed was that there was no $umping, no barking, no howling, which were strong negatives to me. (he $ust sat there, slowly wagging her tail, smiling. If I had to assign words to her at this point, it was as if she was saying, “4i there. What do you want"” As I looked at her, I remember thinking, “Wow/ what a great s$irit this dog see's to have.” In a way, (hayna sort of reminded me of 7atricia – a beautiful, +uiet, proud, independent creature, dark hair, big bright eyes, not highly influenced by first impressions in both cases, this worked to my advantage!. After $ust staring at each other and smiling for a few moments, I looked at her intake form which was affi&ed to the front of her cage!, to learn something about her. It said that she and her twin sister had been rescued the day beforeB from “in a stor' drain”1 that they3d been “seen for D days/” and that “no 'other dog ,was3 $resent.” ,8Another “woo woo”7 .arch EF ha$$ens to be the birthday of the first girl I ever loved/ described earlier/ who I 'et in 200G.3 I thought" A stor' drain/ in .arch/ in <harlottesville/ HA" .y goodness/ that 'ust have been a cold/ lonely/ terrifying e>istence. Well/ we have so'ething in co''on) We were both se$arated fro' our 'others at really young ages 5 and endured so'e serious trau'as. And yet/ she see's so& ha$$y. 9he form also said she was appro&imately .? weeks old and already weighed .8 lbs., which meant she was going to be a pretty big dog. (he sure seemed to me to be in good health. (he had ama5ingly bright eyes, and I could almost see the e&uberant aura that surrounded her, like a halo. I looked down at her again, and her eyes remained locked on me, but +uite nonchalantly – as if to say, “So" Are you going to stand there all day/ or are you going to co'e on in here and chec( 'e out"” As I opened the cage, she stood up, but didn,t go cra5y, her little tail $ust rhythmically moved back and forth, faster now, but certainly not fast enough to give indication that she liked me. :ust as if, to say, “Well/ good. @ow co'e on in/ $ut that leash on 'e/ and ta(e 'e for a wal(/ whoever you are.” I wasn,t ready for that, though. I hadn,t even gotten a leash yet, as I always did before venturing back into the cages, because I was so certain that this visit would be very short. An all blac( dogC “@o$e/ not what I a' loo(ing for. And a fe'ale"” Wait, why did I want a male dog, againC! In that moment, I totally forgot what kind of

April 2002: The face, and the aura, that stole my heart.

.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved*

/age %&

puppy I thought I was looking for. 9he world seemed brand new again.

*or only the second time in my life, I felt the +arth move under my feet
(o I went into her cage, picked her up, and held her in front of me, eye to eye. We $ust looked at each other. Der, with her puppy smile1 me, with a look likeK I don,t know what I looked like, but it felt very special. (hayna leaned over and began to lick my face. <ther puppies had done this during my many previous visits, but it wasn,t +uite the same. Whereas I felt their “kisses” were out of loneliness, desperation, or because of something I,d eaten earlier that had left a delectable aroma on my face, I sensed that (hayna,s “kisses” were from a more profound place – of saying" #ou see" So'eti'es a$$earances can be sur$rising/ eh" Aood on you/ Con. Aood on you. And as I looked in her eyes, something hit me. 4ard. (omething very powerful, and very profound. 4or only the second time in my life, I felt the Jarth move under my feet the first being the moment I met the girl with whom I thought I would spend the rest of my life, back in .//?!. It was a thunderbolt that rocked my entire e&istence1 the signal that I had been waiting, hoping, and praying for. And that “little voice” came back, and said" -his/ Con/ this 'ay be the one. -his little girl/ this beautiful blac( $u$$y/ confined in this cage/ who' you 'et against your better judg'ent 5 this 'ay be the one you have been waiting for. ?ven though her gender and outward a$$earance don't 'atch what you envisioned for your first dog/ she 'ay just be the one. :oo( at her. !reathe her in. Do you feel that connection" Do you feel that s$iritual co'$atibility" -hin(/ 'an. -hin(= (o I carried her over to the leash rack, clipped one on her, and set her down. And we walked – $ust as I had with probably si&ty or seventy or more other pups at the (7-A during my visits. %ut this was very different. As we walked, and looked at each other, and took in each other,s auras, and played together in a little grassy area nearby, I felt an overwhelming sense ofK something within me, bubbling to the surface. It feltK natural. It felt like we wereK at ho'e/ together. As I held her, and played, and held her some more, I felt tears coming to my eyes.
.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved* /age %0

And then I began openly crying. Dard, heavy tears. I think it was because the more she looked at me, and the more I breathed in her aura, and the connection I felt with her, the more it seemed that after all the pain, shame and humiliation that the universe had dealt to me... after all the broken dreams and wasted efforts and disappointments and betrayals that had seemed to define so much of my life... it felt like in this one moment, the cosmos handed me a winning lottery ticket, in the form of the real, true, “perfect” first dog for me. I seem to remember that at that moment, I recalled these lyrics from one of my favorite %onnie *aitt songs listen here!" When he loo(s in her eyes/ he sees only the truth/ telling hi' he's been living a lie/ +ver and over/ li(e a line in a song/ about all the love he let $ass hi' by... I put down a deposit for the shelter to hold (hayna for me, right then and there. <ver the ne&t few days, I visited her on several more occasions. And with each passing visit, I became more convinced that she was, in fact, the puppy I had been waiting for. >ot because she fit any of the physical criteria I was looking for – +uite the contrary – but because I felt more comfortable and compatible with her than with any of the other puppies I,d encountered, and because I felt something more" 'agic. 9he kind of magic that I,d only felt once before in my life – back in .//?, when I met what I thought was the girl of my dreams, and felt the Jarth move under my feet for the first time. <nce I made the decision to adopt (hayna, it came with one caveat. I told 6im, the -A(7-A desk manager with whom I interacted most often, I would only do it if we could agree that if, after two weeks, I felt I could not fulfill my responsibilities, I could bring (hayna back. 9his wasn,t so much so that I could alleviate myself of the burden, but so she would have a chance to be adopted by someone who could provide a better home for her. 6im agreed but also pointed out that there,s actually a clause to that effect within the shelter,s adoption contract1 duhL!.

,y promise to $hayna
I then went back to (hayna3s cage, took her in my arms, and told her what I3d done. 9hat I,d made the decision to adopt her. 9hat she would be coming home to live with me. And that if things worked out, she would be with me forever. %ut then, I felt an obligation to make a promise to her – and I did. I promised her that I would do everything in my power to make her the happiest puppy in the world. As smart as (hayna is, of course, she didn,t understand a word of what I was saying. %ut I knew that she could detect I was saying something important – in part, because I know that there were tears in my eyes, and I kept hugging her as I said it. And she kept giving me kisses.

.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved*

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4or the first time in recent memory, with the e&ception of my move to -harlottesville, I had something to look forward to – something that I sensed would be one of the most positive things that ever happened to me. And as I write these words, with (hayna laying peacefully by my side, eleven years later, time has actually proven this supposition to be wrong. (he turned out to be the most positive thing that ever happened to me, and the greatest gift I ever received.

,At right) .arch 0/ EG2D/ driving with a radiant s$irit over 'y right shoulder/ guiding 'y way/ with love.3

.xcerpt of Section II from “Saved By Shayna: Life Lessons From A Miracle Dog,” !c" Copyright #$%& by 'on S(t)* All rights reserved*

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