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Archive for Conversations with Shelby


Shelby left us a little over a year ago. It’s been a long 12 months. We miss her more than we thought we would. We were so busy going places and meeting people, sharing Shelby with folks and suddenly it’s gone. The last personal visit she made was going to work with Cindi, it was Cindi’s retirement day. She did the best she could, smiles all around, everybody was so happy to see her. She rode home with me, and Cindi followed us home in her car. Shelby always rode shotgun in the front seat. A Princess don’t ride in the back seat, ’nuff said.

She was tired when we got home, she put in a 6 hour day at Cindi’s work. I swooped her out of her seat and put her on the ground. She was slow going in the house so I swooped her up again and put her on her couch. When she tried to walk, her rear legs didn’t work. We made an appointment the next day to see the vet. She gave her a shot and said she should be OK, but she might throw up on the way home. She did. I called and left messages for the vet, she never called back.

The next morning Shelby couldn’t stand on her rear leg’s at all. It was Saturday morning, we called the vet and told them we were bringing her in. It was time for her to move on from her tired and broken body. They had a gazebo out front with chairs, cushions and boxes of Kleenex. Very peaceful.

We spent about 45 minutes waiting for the vet to come out. Shelby looked so, so tired. No smiles on her face, no Tripawd Twirls were done, no Farrah Fawcett tail in the wind. She was worn out and done with her broken down body, she was ready to go. She left so quietly, so peaceful laying on her purple towels. After all, purple is the color of royalty.

We spent half hour with her, then we walked to the truck. One of Shelby’s friends from the vet, Ann, came out and cried with us, hugged us and said she would take good care of her. She visits Shelby’s Blog and asked us, “Do you know how many people loved that little dog?” We said yes, we had a pretty good idea.

This year on the 3rd of July we went back to that gazebo. We sat quietly, tears streaming down our faces. We remembered the good times, man there was a ton of those! The sense of hollowness and loss was still was with us. The feeling of, “man, how do we get along without Shelby?” came up again. We went to Sequoia Burger, one her favorites, and had cheeseburgers and fries in her honor.

While we were visiting the gazebo last week, Cindi said, “You know Shelby held on until she knew I was retired, so she wouldn’t leave you without someone to take care of you.” Shelby was Heaven sent, an Angel among us.

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Thank you all for the kind thoughts about Shelby. They mean so much to us as we grieve.

We are both Christians and believe that God sets up Divine Appointments, and meeting Shelby was a Divine Appointment. How else can we explain how Shelby found us, half a world away? People say that when you rescue a dog you find the one you want but you take home the one you need.  Just over 10 years ago Shelby rescued us. She traveled a long way with a few scrapes and a partial leg to arrive in Elverta, Ca. We met her about three weeks after her amputation. She was smiling and having a great time with her Foster Mom Kathy, Foster Dad Jim and Foster God Mother Jana at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Sanctuary. We had no idea our lives were going to be changed forever.

Shelby always had a smile and a wagging tail for everyone she met. Always in the present, kind, caring, giving, loving, seeking treats or a tennis ball.  A friend to everyone she met. A great ambassador for TRIPAWDS.

After attending classes for 6 months we passed them all. Nine months after she adopted us, we were certified as a Social Therapy team on November 1, 2009. We immediately started visiting Memorial Hospital and continued there until her retirement in March 2019. In addition to her regular gig at the hospital, she was a reading buddy, visited autistic kids, met seniors at an Assisted Living Group Home and hung out with high school students that were mourning the death of one of their teachers. She charmed college students with visits a short time after starting school and a couple of weeks before finals. In a local VA Hospital we met with young Heroes returning from the gulf War as well as Vietnam and Korean war vets, trying to help them forget the terrible things they saw and experienced. Shelby also trained as a Comfort Dog. The training included working with the Santa Rosa Police and Fire departments, and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s helicopter crew.

Elvis tried to hang out with her in Las Vegas as we took her picture in her wagon right up next to a NASCAR race car. We met and partied with Las Vegas TRIPAWDS and visited the Valley of Fire. Checked out a few new BMW and Harley Motorcycles. We always stopped at motorcycle shops, loading her in her wagon to look around. Some folks wanted a picture with her next to a new bike – she was always up to having her picture taken!

One time during a parade in Sacramento a TV crew wanted to interview us, so we were on a local morning news and event show. I’m thankful they showed more of her than me. We drove down to Orange County to see her special friends John, Diane, Bernie and Linda and party with some SoCal TRIPAWDS. We had a great day in the park and later as we were having dinner, Shelby snuck under the table and snatched a goody right out of John’s hand. That made the evening!

Starting in 2009 every few months we would have a NorCal TRIPAWD Party at Mill Valley Dog Park. And they were insane parties! We attended them for 10 years and only missed one. That was my fault, not hers. At the parties we met a ton of 3 and 4 legged dogs and their Peeps. WOW, what amazing memories…she met Maggi and Tani, Chemiel, Cara Sue, Max and Linda, Wyatt and Codie Ray, Lilie Girl and Happy, Bernie Bin Laden, Hannah and Jasper Lilly. So many more TRIPAWDS over time, plus a ton of 4 legged dogs. The Peeps were all so amazing. We always had snacks, tennis balls galore and tons of great conversation. Many of the TRIPAWD Peeps we met 10 years ago are still very close and special friends.

Sonoma County was ravaged by fires in 2017. Thousands of homes, businesses, shops and stores were leveled. We took Shelby to Memorial Hospital and met with some of the evacuees. Everyone was in a state of shock. We met some of the Doctors and Nurses in the Intensive and Critical Care areas. We found out many of them already had their own homes destroyed…yet they were at work helping others. Simply amazing people. Cal Fire set up a base for fighting the local fires at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. An entire “city” was created as a base for fighting the fires. Machine shops, truck maintenance, sleeping, showers, breakfast and dinner and a warehouse full of people on phones and radios making sure the “city” and the first responders had everything they needed to get the job done. 6500 first responders were there.

Shelby, Cindi and I started visiting the first responders, and the appreciation they gave us was unbelievable. They thanked us for being there! For 2 weeks we were at the main gate from about 3:30 to 8 PM greeting and thanking the incoming day shift and the outgoing evening shifts. They were so respectful, gracious and caring towards Shelby, Cindi and me. Some folks saved part of their steak from dinner and gave it to Shelby. Toward our last days there, a Battalion Commander told us Shelby’s visits came up in the morning planning meeting. They elected to give her a new name “Dogtor Shelby”. We thought this was the pinnacle for Shelby’s career.

In March 2018, two doctors and a pregnant social worker were shot and killed at the Veterans Home in Yountville, Ca. This horror occurred where these Vets live. We were one of the four original Comfort Teams there. They said we could visit in any of the buildings except where the murders occurred. So we started in a building that served the staff, recreation hall and their store. We walked in and just visited folks as we saw the need. The need was overwhelming. Their grief was evident, folks were confused and wanted to know how this could have happened in what should be a place of safety and peace. Later that day we went to the cafeteria and met some of the vets as they came and went. One Vet told me “we’ve already been to war, it shouldn’t have come here.” On another day we visited the arts and crafts building and met a ton of people, almost all still had the look of shock and disbelief. One gentleman asked if I seen the hearts? No, I hadn’t seen them. He told me to look at the garden right outside their craft building. There were three large handmade hearts that were painted pink. On the inside of one of the hearts was a small heart…for the unborn baby.

The time we spent with Shelby was way, way too short. We packed a lot of life into those 10 years. People have told us she’s an angel. We are so fortunate she came home with us and enriched our and countless others’ lives. I was able to spend more time with her than Cindi was. We miss her from the bottom of our hearts. All of our kids that have passed hangout at the Big Dipper so we can look up and find them. She’s there now, healing, working through her illness and building up her stamina. And playing with all the other wonderful spirits over the Rainbow Bridge.

We couldn’t be happier that God brought Shelby to us. She was an incredible and social dog, making me go out of my comfort zone and learn how to chit-chat with folks as they enjoyed their time with her. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes, “To everything there is a season, a time to be born and a time to die.” God opened so many opportunities for Shelby to help people. He made the training classes available, and the certification process couldn’t have gone smoother if we had planned it. She visited thousands of people and simply was herself. Accepting, empathetic, sharing love and compassion, smiling and wagging her tail.  She was a sure cure for so many people.

We received a beautiful tribute to Shelby that states, “Listen to the wind and know I am there.”

One of Shelby’s admirers said it well, “Run free and whole Miss Shelby, you will always be in our hearts.”

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Shelby’s sporting her original bandana, she’s so cute don’t matter what she wears.

Rosy’ had so much fun she got a black eye!

Dusty Dog keeping an eye out for anyone with treats.

Karen and Elly hanging out.

Catching up with everyone.

Happy Hannah with mom and Ralph.

Some of the Oaktown crew.

Break time or don’t mess with my ball!

It’s always nice to hang out with old friends, really good to see everyone. Wow, looking at photo’s from the last 9 years or so it’s plain to see none of us has aged a day.!

We would have stayed longer but we had gale force winds blowing in from the coast.

Great day with great folks and dogs, life is good!




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Hi, it was a nice, cool afternoon, so us TRIPAWDS hung out in the front yard with the Pawrents and Emmy Lou, a quad paw, who as a rule doesn’t hang out on the front lawn, was inside. She usually hangs out inside by the front door.


We didn’t see Emmy so mom walked into the house and BUSTED Sweet, Sweet Emmy Lou finishing the last of the ice cream!

But this wasn’t just any ice cream she was finishing, it was best Mint Chip Ice Cream in the ENTIRE WORLD! Thrifty Mint Chip Ice Cream!

Good thing we live less than a mile from The Thrifty Mint Ice Cream Store, so, we knew a replacement was quickly available.

The rest of the evening Emmy Lou strolled around the house with Mint Chip breath. I’m not sure but later that evening I swear I saw Dusty giving her a big ‘ol sloppy kiss on the face.

Emmy Lou got kisses, Dusty got some left over dried ice cream and I didn’t git NOTHIN!

Shelby, the Petite Princess


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The recent wild fires in Northern California have burned thousands of acres, homes and businesses in the city of Santa Rosa and Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties. The Sonoma County Fairgrounds have been converted to a self contained community of 3500 first responders from CA., NV., OR., WA., SD., CO., MT., FL., NV., AZ. and Australia. The compound includes chiropractors, message folks, a small engine repair tent, communications trailers for AT&T, electrical generators to power everything, an eating area, kitchen, showers, laundry and enough tents for all the 3500 first responders as well as Santa Rosa Police, Sheriffs Department, CA. State Parks Department, U.S. Army and the Reserves for security and contractors for the bulldozer work. And, parking for dozens of fire trucks in all sizes, mostly red but some hi-viz yellow as well as an area to maintain all the equipment.

When we learned the organization that Shelby, Cindi and I volunteer for, P.A.L.S., or Paws as Loving Support, had permission for our dogs to visit the first responders, we headed down there.

I remember in Shelby’s Comfort Dog training, she found a firefighter she was very fond of…so I knew she would love being at the Fairgrounds.

Getting into the Fairgrounds means getting through security, first letting the Santa Rosa PD know that Shelby is a comfort dog by showing them our photo name tags and that she was requested by the first responders. Then as you enter the compound you need to check in with Cal Fire. Fortunately most security folks have remembered Shelby so our access has been a bit easier. For the last week Shelby has posted herself near the main gate so she could greet the first responders as they headed into their compound after working all day or heading out for the night shift. We knew she would use her red wagon, because most fire trucks are red, and she really wanted to “blend in”. On October 15th we tied a “Happy Birthday” balloon to her wagon and celebrated her 10th birthday by hanging out with the first responders. The next day I was told that Shelby was brought up in the fire fighters morning meeting and they gave her a new nickname, DOGTOR SHELBY.

We usually spend 3 to 4 hours by the gate where Shelby has greeted hundreds of first responders and without fail brought a smile to their faces. Some will tell us about their dogs at home and show us pictures. Some will ask to take her picture, some will ask to have their picture with her, some will smile, pet her and go about their business. Some will bring her a piece of steak from their dinner or a piece of jerky for her to munch on. We make sure we tell everyone we meet, “thank you for being here” and “thank you for helping us”. We are humbled that many have told us, “thanks for being here, we appreciate it”. I mentioned to one of the fire captains that we haven’t heard any swearing or negative comments, his reply was “there’s no room for that”.

Yesterday was the first day in 2 weeks where we have no visible smoke from the fires. People are being let back into the evacuation zones to see what they have left. The long, difficult period of rebuilding has begun, it will take years. Cindi and I are very blessed, our house was never in danger.

The first responders came from all over to help us. I don’t know how to say thank you enough for what they have done. Hopefully we’ve helped in some way.

under: Conversations with Shelby

Well, well, well, I just celebrated my 8 year adoptaversary!!!

On April 4th, 2009, I rescued a family from Santa Rosa. They came looking for a dog and left with me, The Petite Princess. They had no idea how much their life was about to change. At first they were like deer in the headlights, didn’t have a clue what to do with me, only having 3 legs and cute as a button.

A few months later after all the training and learning stuff, they turned me loose on Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa. I remember that day like it was yesterday, November 1st, 2009. That hospital had never seen the likes of me, my red wagon, autographed 4 by 6 closeup photo’s of you know who, and, the maid and chauffeur there to help me start my rounds. Nope they had never seen a Princess cruising the hallways with my Farah Fawcett tail blowing in the breeze. People stopped, pointed, oohed and ahhed and we’d invite them over so they could meet me. A few told me how beautiful I am.

We’ve made a lot of friends at the hospital, we make friends everywhere we go. We’ve traveled many miles, me in my wagon, tail in the breeze. Hanging with Mom and Dad …from Doggy Days at Sonoma State, to a So Cal TRIPAWD PAWTY , a Las Vegas TRIPAWD PAWTY, to the Strip in Las Vegas, yeah, Elvis wanted his picture taken with ME! To retirement homes, helping kids learn to read, selling raffle tickets for the local Harley Owners Group fundraiser, working with autistic young people and sometimes folks who just need a Princess to hug.

I couldn’t have done any of this without gobs of help. The students that rescued me in Taiwan and the volunteers at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue. The Doctor that took my bad leg off and threw it away. Jim and Kathy, the best foster parents this lucky Princess could have. My Foster God Mother Jana, who gave my dad the what for, and told him what he could and couldn’t expect from me. Margie the trainer that helped dad and me learn to work together. Nancy taught us how to be a social/therapy team. She believed in me, as little as I am, she believed in me. Early in the training Mom and Dad weren’t sure, but Nancy was. And Penny, my Border Collie big sister, taught me how be an alpha female before she left us…she was a much better Alpha Female then I’ll ever be. She was so cool.

OK, let’s not get all mushy here. 8 years, I can’t believe it…

So, Mom and Dad, A.K.A, the maid and chauffeur, took me out for my 8th Adoptaversary Celebration lunch / dinner. I sat in the front seat of the pickup with my Dad and Mom sat in the back. I had a chickin sammich, fries and ice cream! Dad said as far as he knows, thats the 3 main food groups people talk about, I think he’s right! Tons of chickin crumbs and ice cream all over my face and I was workin it! I usually don’t like my picture taken with chicken sammich crumbs and ice cream on my face, but this time, I did! Ah, heck, we all know I love my picture taken anytime!!

Thinking back over the last 8 years, we rescued each other, that’s the way things should be.




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Friends in high places.

Posted by: | March 30, 2015 | 4 Comments |

Shelby has been visiting the hospital since November 1st, 2009. We have met hundreds of amazing people during this visits. Sometimes you are there when a patient and their families get to go home and sometimes you’re there when the final arrangements are being made for a family member.

Sometimes when we visit the hospital we spend a lot of time with the staff, nurses and doctors. Often we hear, “O boy, here comes Shelby!” and sometimes we hear, ” Shelby, I really needed to see you today.”

This last weekend we visited on both Saturday and Sunday and there were some families that really needed to see Shelby. The aunt, grandmother and sister waiting in the Intensive Care waiting area for word on their loved one. The sister and grandmother already there more than 24 hours. The aunt who came in had Shelby sitting beside her on the couch and you could see the concern and worry on her face. Shelby hops in and does what she does so well, creates a bit of a break from both the concern and the worry. She did really, really well with these 3 ladies.

We moved to the critical waiting area where we met a mother and her sister who were waiting for word of her son who was in a motorcycle accident. The doctors had already removed one of his legs. Shelby hopped on the couch next to the mother and again, for a few minutes, help to calm and distract her. After quite awhile we left there and went to the 3rd floor, Oncology.

We had some amazing visits with folks! Learned a few jokes and one gentleman shared a cell phone photo of his Jack Russell, 17 years old, that had just crossed the bridge. We met some new nurses and saw a doctor that we had met several years earlier. She had always been a big fan of Shelby’s and so we’ve talked several times. After we visit someone, I always pick Shelby up, thank the folks for letting us come and visit and Cindi resets their chairs and helps to wipe down their hands with a disenfectent wipe and says her goodbyes. I was waiting in the hallway with Shelby when Shelby’s doctor friend came out of one of the other patients rooms, knelt down next to Shelbys wagon and the two of them had a great visit! The doctors have the final say as to whether the therapy dog programs are allowed in the hospital, so we are always on our best behavior, which is no easy task for some of us!

While she was visiting Shelby, I congratulated her on becoming “Chief of Staff” and told her we hadn’t seen her lately. She said, “not to worry, I’ve been right here”. After we said our goodbye’s, I started thinking about what just happened. The Chief of Staff was kneeling down hugging on our little Petite Princes in the middle of hall on the Oncology floor. I was humbled, amazed and blown away.

Shelby says, It’s good to have friends in high places!


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Our visits to Memorial Hospital always start in the Intensive and Critical Care waiting rooms. These visits are very, very special. Many times we find families that have been there for 24 hours waiting for a loved one. We often spend 1 to 2 hours visiting these waiting areas.
During our last visit Shelby caught the eye of 2 nurses on duty that day. As Shelby visited with some of the visitors, one of the nurses said, would you be able to visits some of our patients in Intensive this morning. We told them we are only allowed in with the permission of a nurse or a doctor. 2 minutes later, we were in one of the Intensive Care rooms visiting a young man who had been in a single car accident and was awaiting surgery. We put a pillow case on the right side of the bed and laid Shelby right next to him. We told him let us when you’re tired and we’ll leave, about 5 minutes later we said goodbye and wished him well on his surgery the next day. As we got up to leave, the nurse said, hold on, don’t go anywhere, we have another patient for you to visit.

We were introduced to an amazing women in her late 80’s. As we brought Shelby into her room, her face lit up with a huge smile. We laid Shelby next to her and she reached down and started petting her. The nurse said, that’s the first time she had smiled since she arrived at the hospital. We were having a wonderful conversation, but within a few minutes, you could see she was tired, so we thanked her, gave her one Shelby’s autographed pictures and said our goodbye’s.
The nurse said, we have one more 1 more lady who would love a visit. We were shown into a room with a wonderful couple. The husband was there visiting his wife, she was sitting on a chair right next to her bed. We looked at all the equipment, wires, tubes and figured the best thing to do was put Shelby on HER bed. It took just a moment for her to reach out and pet her. Her husband was so tickled we were there, everybody had big smiles and we talked about their dogs at home. All the time we talked, she’s petted Shelby. We told them she looked so comfortable on the bed, we joked that we would leave her with them while we go out for some lunch! They were very happy to be able to spend some time with a dog in the hospital. They said it made their day. A few minutes later, we left the room and headed back out to the waiting area and Shelby’s wagon.
Shelby was pretty thirsty after all of those visits, so we put her back in her pink wagon and put some water in her bowl. While she was busy drinking, Cindi and I looked at each other, 3 great visits…in Intensive Care? Are you kidding me! We had only been allowed in there 3 times in 4 years!
As we headed to the elevator, a young man in scrubs came out of the Intensive Care area and told us what a great thing we were doing and how it really helped the patients and how does he get his Golden Doodle and himself qualified? We thanked him and Cindi and I told him what was needed and asked him where was he thinking of visiting.? He said, why, here of course. It would be so cool if I could bring my dog to work and we could visit some of my patients. Cindi asked what do you do, he said, I’m a doctor in the intensive care area and my office is right here. She said you sure look young, he just smiled and kinda laughed. I thought, heck, I’ve blue jeans older than he is!
We continued our visits on different floors and after a couple of hours, the 3 of us were done. We made our way out of the hospital and back to the truck. As I put Shelby’s wagon in the back, I turned and looked back at the hospital, looked at Shelby and Cindi and thought, that was so cool! What an amazing day! THEN, we went out for cheeseburgers and fries!!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again, we are so blessed Shelby came to live with us.

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April 4th, 2009 I found my forever home!

My Foster Mom and Dad took me to the ranch that Saturday so I could grant interviews. That was my first big outing since March 11th, when I had my amputation. They said they weren’t ready for me to be adopted…but I was!

Ever since I came to my forever home we have been so busy visiting and meeting so many new people, but what’s more important is how big my extended family is. From the lady that rescued me in Taiwan, Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue picked me up at SFO,  the Doctor who did my surgery, my Foster Mom and Dad, my Foster God Mother Jana, Margie, my trainer at Petsmart,  Nancy at ADI believed I could be a Therapy dog, all my human friends at TRIPAWDS.  My grandparents, Lee and Janet, all my friends at the hospital, library, county fairs and the elementary school. I’ll never forget the time at the VA Hospital when a soldier petted me for a long time and told my dad, thanks, you made me forget the bad things for awhile.

I miss all my TRIPAWD friends that have become Angels. Cancer, I hate you.

My big sister Penny has been so patient and taught me so much. Charlie my big brother has taught me some things that Penny never would!

I think Phil, the Dad on that Duck TV show sums my life up best, “Happy, Happy, Happy!” Cheeseburgers and fries for everyone!!!!!







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Shelby, the talking dog?

Posted by: | March 17, 2014 | 3 Comments |

We keep Shelby’s red wagon in the living room. It’s full of toys, half chewed up tennis balls, various bones, pieces of bark and any half shredded pieces of paper she felt were important enough to keep.

When she can’t find the “right” toy, ball, bone, shredded paper or piece of bark scattered around the house, she’ll hop over to her wagon and starts, “The search.” Her front paw in the wagon, her Farrah Fawsett tail wagging, she’ll search the wagon for the “just right toy” for the moment. She’ll usually finds something, jumps up in her wagon, grabs it, turns around and looks at us like, “Hey, help me out of my wagon!” And of course we both drop everything we’re doing and rush to help her down.

Saturday night she sprung something new on us. Front paw in the wagon, tail wagging, she gave us both the over the shoulder look, hopped down, sat down, looked calmly at Cindi and barked…once. Not a loud bark, just a bark telling Cindi she wanted her half green, half red tennis ball, now, please.

Cindi immediately went to the wagon, found the requested tennis ball and gave it to Shelby who hopped off as happy as she could be.

We both swear when she barked, it actually sounded like the word “ball.”

I have one question, just who is running this house??? the chauffeur.



under: Conversations with Shelby

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