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The Adventures of Shadow and Me
Shadow is my seventeen-year-old black laborador. He's my big brother and my partner in crime. His black nose would always touch some body part of mine - my leg, my foot, my hand, sometimes my cheek - when we slept together. My mother always tell the story of how Shadow licked my face with his big tongue when I came home from the hospital. Mom said I was the unhappiest baby in the world and when Shadow licked me in the most gentle way, I giggled. My dog and I have been inseperable ever since, playing and running and sleeping and eating together. He looked out for me like an older brother and I looked at him as a person with fur, not a dog. I looked at Shadow like a human being and not a mutt my father picked up from the street one rainy night.
Once, when I was seven, Shadow shoved me into a pool. Oh course, some people may say this was an act of an uncaring dog, well you are wrong! This was the starting of a new game called "Can You Handle It?" The rules are, the person must push the other person to the limit by doing unspeakable tasks. This led to me going to the Emergency Room for eating old food from the garbage, Shadow smelling like skunk for an entire six months, and accidentally setting my baby blanket on fire. Some of my greatest youth adventures were accompanied by my pitch-black pup.
In school, I was made fun of because of my looks. I had a thin body, white hair, grey eyes, and a voice the opposite of perfect. But Shadow made it okay; Shady had a very muscular body and fine black fur but his eyes were bright blue and he was destined to have hip dysplasia. He knew his end would be painful but yet he still smiled and played and had fun. He gave me courage.
Years pass and even in my teens I was still having wild adventures with my pal. I didn't understand why some of the other girls thought it was strange to talk to Shadow and take Super Walks - walking around without specific directions and usually getting lost - I mean, he was the nicest friend I had, leave me alone! But Shadow never heard the taunting, he would just smile at me and wag his tail in the I love you so much! kind of way.
Two years ago, Shady lost his sight. You could tell his hips were bothering him and soon he would only get up when I came home or asked him to. He would sniff around the house and smile still, though. Last year he lost his hearing and was soon nicknamed "Helen Keller" but shockingly he could still tell when I came home from school and even though the pain in his legs, Shadow still jumped up on my bed at nighttime. No matter what, his black nose always would tickle my hand or arm at night. We had to shorten our super walks and we could barely play "Can You Handle It?" anymore. In 2010, on September 18th, Shadow told me it was the end of the line for him. I don't know how he did but he jumped up on my bed, collapsed in pain and looked at me with blind eyes.
"What is it, buddy?" I asked him. Even though for almost two years Shadow's been deaf, he still heard my problems and suffering and fixed them with a lick on my cheek. Suddenly, it hit me; Shadow wanted me to be with him on his last night. I turned off the lights early and crawled into bed. Tears already streamed down my cheek. Shadow was on his side, his face looking at me. I pulled the covers around us, his favorite way, and I stared into his blurry eyes.
"Are you sure, Shady? Are we done? I-I'll miss you, bi-bi-big br-bro..." I could barely finish my sentence. As if comforting me, he put his wet nose on my cheek as a warm tear hit it. I began to sob into his fur uncontrollably; my best friend, my big brother, the only person who ever understood me, was leaving and never coming back. He was going away forever, leaving me stranded. I was never going to play Can You Handle It? again or go on a Super Walk and get lost in the woods and have Shadow guide us back home. We were never going to share another night together, never going to give me a slobbery kiss, never whack my drink off the coffee table. We were never going to watch another chick flick again. Shadow licked my tears as they crossed my cheeks. I kept sobbing and crying, "Why? Don't leave yet, Shady. Don't ever leave me. Why?" He thudded his tail on my calf and it was like a special kind of morse code; It was like Shadow thudded into me the answer I'll always be with you, buddy. I'll never leave you. Ever. It came to me, I rubbed my eyes.
"You're in so much pain, Shady. You can go now. I understand. I'll always love you, Shadow. You were my first friend. The first person I ever trusted. The first person I ever loved. You can go now. You have my permission to go to Heaven. You'll wait for me, right? You'll wait for me at those Pearly Gates?" I began to sob again but I repeated those words at least a thousand times. He licked my years and this time he tapped my legg three times, three distinct times that could be only known as I love you. I fell asleep with tears still falling from my eyes and my limbs intertangled with Shady. I woke up the next day with Shadow's wet nose still in the same place; on my cheek, but he was no longer there. He left. In the middle of the night, just like he came.
I'll miss my best friend. I sit in the woods sometimes where we got lost. I walk aimlessly around my neighborhood for a while. I would lie in my bed and it felt huge and lonely. People would ask me if I was okay and I would only knod, tears silently streaming down my face. I feel like a little piece of myself died. And now, four months later, I am ready to tell the story. I am ready to speak about the good and bad times. I am willing to now tell this story that has been hidden in my heart for a while now. Shadow was the best dog a girl could ask for, escpecially a girl who needed somebody willing to go on wild adventures with. He will always be in my heart, he will always be there, next to me, in the dark. I miss his brilliant blue eyes and the youth that never left them. I'll miss you, my dearly and most beautiful best friend. I love you, Shadow.
"The world's best dog is the first dog a person owns." - Anonymous