Community News

Sheba always shined!

A Tribute to Sheba

Our goal in writing Rescue Tales is to uplift, inspire, and fill our readers’ hearts with hope and happiness. So, when we learned of the recent passing of a much-loved dog named Sheba, we wondered if we should tell her story, which could be perceived as a sad one. But on reflection, we realized her story is full of inspiration and is filled with happiness and love. It’s telling is definitely worthy of a Rescue Tale!

Sheba came to us in the summer of 2013. Her name was Boo back then. According to her records, she was once in the Miami shelter, had two homes after that, and then was surrendered to us. She had been identified as a Chow mix, but all we saw was a mid-sized dog—black, sleek, and beautiful. When Charles came looking for a dog, he fell in love with her.

Charles is one of those very special adopters who wants to ensure that he is doing everything possible to provide a good life for his dog. We corresponded often in those early days after the adoption. With each email, we were increasingly assured that Sheba had struck paydirt with Charles.

9/13/13: “This is a reminder… anything you think I should have read, or otherwise, please let me know. I’ll undertake it all. Whatever I can do to help being a better dog owner is worth it to me. And thank you for your time.”

She was in such good hands! But like any new relationship, those early days had bumps in the road. On walks, Sheba liked to scavenge and scarf up all kinds of things along the way. She also was on edge initially and barked at every noise she heard outside. On leash, she was powerful. The person holding the leash was a speed control device, not a walking companion. As Charles was getting to know Sheba, he reached out for guidance and always was willing to take direction. He worked with a trainer and had this to say:

10/20/13: “I did what was recommended as far as the sharp jerk on the leash for “correction” if she starts pulling, getting too far ahead, veering off, etc. I stopped that after a couple of days, as she started to behave differently at home. I got the impression she was very much “concerned” that she wasn’t behaving “right”, and she was constantly needing attention and approval. Since calming down from that approach, she has relaxed a bit.”

Over time,  Charles learned from her what she needed to succeed. To help her cope with noise anxiety, he managed her day-to-day walks in a thoughtful way: “I am not walking her on Duval. Instead, I keep to the “calmer streets”. It’s more of a “damage control” situation than a cure, really. But for the time being, I’m seeing this as the best approach.” This is a perfect example of working with the dog you have, rather than demanding she be the dog you want. Ironically, this approach can help you eventually get the dog you want! That is what happened to Charles.

1/7/14: “I’m sending this note to you, because every day, I look at my dog, Sheba, and can’t believe how lucky I am to have such an amazing companion.

When Charles’s life changed and he was preparing to move from Key West to Virginia, he contacted us MONTHS before to ensure his girl would be prepared for the transition.

3/24/14: “I’m planning to move at the end of May, and I’ll be driving a U-Haul to Virginia. I was hoping you might be able to give me some hints in how to lessen the stress for Sheba.”

All we could say is “What a great guy and what a lucky dog!!”

Charles maintained contact after leaving Key West. Through the years, he faithfully sent birthday updates, videos of Sheba playing in the snow or enjoying nature walks, along with pictures and stories of their experiences together.

2/17/15: “Sheba is having a blast. Whenever there’s new snow on the ground she goes leaping through it like a deer! Although she occasionally starts limping, because the snow sticks to her paws. When I see her start to limp, I stop her and hold the frozen paw until it warms up. Then she’s good to go. When it’s really cold, we don’t get out for long stretches. Otherwise, she’s loving the forest walks, and neighborhood walks over foot bridges and small woodsy areas.”

9/13/20: “A family moved in next door and the little boy, around 7/8 yrs old, keeps coming by and asking if Sheba can come out. She is also the hit of the neighborhood. Everyone asks about her if they see me without her (which is rare). I have one neighbor who comes over and invites herself into the house just to see her. She is Ms. Popularity and no one can believe she’s 12. She still acts like a puppy. I like to tell people how everyone kept saying, “oh, she’ll calm down with age”. Not a chance.

Each update was a testament to the love Charles had for Sheba.

Then in May of this year, we received a different kind of update. The news this time was not good. A large inoperable tumor had been discovered, and Charles had to make the heartbreaking but humane decision to say good-bye to Sheba.

5/20/21: “It would be no surprise that she was the light of my life, and it will take me a very long time to figure out how to live without Sheba in my life. She left behind a huge impact on anyone who ever met her. She was the hit of the neighborhood and affected everyone with whom she came in contact. She was a true celebrity. September would only have been her 13th birthday. It’s safe to say she was taken far too young. I want to thank you for the unbelievable eight years I had with her and wish you and the shelter all the best.”

Author Michele Hanson, when writing about the loss of a beloved cat, said the love we have for our animals are relationships “entirely predicated on impermanence.” Unfortunately, their lives are never as long as we would wish. But what we share with them, give to them, and receive from them makes the loss of their presence just a little bit more bearable. We thank Charles for his gift of love, both to Sheba and to those of us who knew and remember her. RIP, sweet girl!