Cheyenne Moonshadow 
7/28/95 - 11/19/03

Chey flew into National Airport on the evening of May 18, 1996.  She was the German Shepherd that I had waited my whole life to get.  She didn't have great bloodlines and she wasn't a puppy, but she was coming here to live with me and that was enough.

Chey was a bitch, through and through.  She was the kind of dog that makes you understand how the term bitch came to be used as a pejorative.  She was obstinate, strong-minded and strong-willed, and occasionally cantankerous.  She was also incredibly smart and an absolute rock for me.

I remember one night at agility class the instructor said to me, "Do you do obedience with her?"  Thinking that I was going to hear how she needed obedience work, I tentatively replied, "Um, no."  "You should," the instructor said, "That dog loves you."

Chey taught me so many things, it's hard to even remember all of them as individual events.  She taught me to trust myself and my instincts with regard to the care, treatment, and training of my dogs.  She taught me to dig around in the toolbox for a screwdriver if a hammer didn't work rather than pulling out a bigger hammer. 

She was far from perfect, but so am I.  It's probably a minor miracle that she never actually bit anyone, especially in the first couple of years that I had her.  We spent a lot of time working on her "issues" and what I ended up with was a pretty decent dog who was fantastically loyal to me.

When I decided to add Dax to the family, I caught a bit of flak from my mother because she thought that I was "replacing" Chey.  Far from it.  I couldn't replace Chey then and I can't now.  Instead, having Dax around was a huge positive for her -- she really liked him (once she showed him who was boss).

She bossed Dax and Cyke around like a queen bee, always stayed near if I was sick, and when we had to take away stuffed animals because of Cyke's digestive habits, she  resorted to nibbling on blankets.

The first time Liz ever visited me, Chey, who wasn't really tolerant of visitors, put her frisbee on Liz's head while Liz was sleeping on the couch.

This summer, Liz made the mistake of leaving Chey in the kitchen with a pile of raw hamburger patties on the counter.  Fortunately for dinner, we had a second package of hamburger in the fridge.

It's hard to capture 8 years together into a single text snapshot.  There's no real way to do it, especially for me right now.  I wish I could be more eloquent, but that's just not going to happen.

Chey was a good dog, but not for the reasons that people usually consider a dog to be good.  I have always dreaded this day, but I thought I had a few more years.  I thought I would be able to say goodbye.  I thought that I would be the one who had to make the tough decision, but bitch that she is, she said that she was going to control that. 

This morning Chey didn't look quite right, had a slightly elevated temperature,  and I thought that she might be bloating so we took her to the vet.  Her gums were pale when we got there (I *always* forget to check that.)  X-rays showed that she wasn't bloating.  This was not good news.  They opened her up and discovered a ruptured splenic tumor.  She made it through the surgery, but gave up during recovery before she was all the way awake.  We decided not to do pathology on the tumour -- while interesting from an academic standpoint, it isn't going to make us feel any better.

If the tumor was a malignant hemangiosarcoma, she would probably have had 5-6 months.  If not, who knows.

I've put up a few pictures of her at http://www.2gsds.com/chey/index.html that I think somewhat capture her personality and how she lived her life.  There are also some pictures of her at http://www.2gsds.com/gallery/index.html

I still don't believe that this has happened.

Goodbye Chey.  You will always be with me.

--MRO

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