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Old 05-07-2020, 08:33 AM
Location: Free From The Oppressive State
26,029 posts, read 19,140,938 times
Reputation: 30988


I have written so many threads about this dog and the things we have endured throughout his lifetime.

In August of 2010, this boy was 3-4 months old. I was living and working in the Everglades, when this boy, and his sister, came into my life. I was not planning on getting a dog, let alone 2. I had been busy rescuing all of the cats that people had thrown out into the Everglades as if they were broken furniture or bags of trash. I had just worked with a rescue to adopt well over 20 cats because of horrible people. And then these 2 pups showed up in my life.

I know that animal abuse, neglect, and torture happens all over the world, but I never witnessed so much disregard for animals as I did when I lived in Miami. These 2, and another sibling, were throw out of the window of a moving car, onto the road. Deposited like an empty gum wrapper, the car drove off, leaving these pups to fend for themselves or be killed. One of the siblings was hit by a car and died right there. Shasta and his sister danced around their siblings body until they were rescued off of the streets by my neighbor.

My neighbor decided to bring them back to where we lived, in the Everglades, but kept them outside for the night while he tried to figure out what to do with them. He was going to have them adopted out, but that call wasn't going to happen until the next day.

I came home from a get together with some of my co-workers. I did not want to go to this get together because I despised one of my co-workers. The story isn't about that person, so I'll move on. I came home, backed my car into my spot, and as I was getting ready to turn off my car, 2 little puppies appeared out of the darkness and into the beam of my headlights.

I got out, put my hands on both of them to keep them from continuing on, and looked up and down the road for any signs of anyone looking for them. After a few minutes, because we were being eaten alive by mosquitoes, and it's the fricken Everglades, and yes, gators did come into our yards, I decided to put them inside.

I laid out my sleeping bag for them, got them some water, which they drank, greedily, and gave them some cat food, as that was all I had. They didn't eat the cat food. I then tied up an old shirt into a knot for a toy for them, and stayed up quite late checking them out.

The next day, I called up the rescue that helped me with the cats. She contacted another rescue, called me back and asked if I would "foster" these 2 pups while the rescue was finishing quarantine for the dogs they had rescued a few weeks prior. I agreed.

I went to the store, and I bought them beds, toys, collars, leashes, crates, bowls, and food. Here they are, their first day with me:

I also made a vet appointment, and I started working on training. I wanted them to have every chance in the world of being adopted because they are black dogs, and so many in Miami has a superstition about black animals. Anything I could do to make them more desirable, I was going to do.

But - doing all of this had an unintended consequence. I got to know them, and I fell for them. And just before that 2 weeks was up, I called the rescue and told them that I was going to keep them.

And then I named them. I named him Shasta after my favorite mountain in the lower 48: Mt. Shasta. I loved going there as a kid. I loved the drive up there - I wanted to live there. To me, it was the most beautiful place in the lower 48 - so I named him after it.

They had a lot of fun in the Everglades, and I learned a lot about training because in the Everglades, you don't necessarily have "second chances". You need to get things right the first time. If I'm training recall, for example, I better have it down before I let them off leash to do it, because if they see a gator and go up to it, there's no "do over". I learned a ridiculous amount of training - and while I'm not a certified trainer, I can tell you I'm better than the ones in pet stores, without a doubt, and I'm probably right on par with those who just got their certification and are trying to start their own business. I can't even tell you how many hours of information I read and absorbed. I learned what training methods were garbage, and which ones worked really well - and I learned a whole lot that no one seems to really talk about. I had to, their lives depended on it.

This is Shasta in his first year of life, in the Glades, after we got recall down:

Once he learned it, that boy came to me every. single. time. I called him back. It wasn't easy because he has a high prey drive, and he would get distracted over everything. It took a lot of time, a lot of patience, and a lot of teensy tiny baby steps along the way to get him to that point of 100%. I also soon found out that it wasn't the dehydrated beef livers in jackpot reward form that did it for him, as I thought in the beginning. It was because in the time that I spent working with him, one on one, he developed a trust in me, and he wanted to come back when I called. I didn't need to bribe him, he wanted to do what I wanted him to do. And that is when you know you've succeeded.

This is when he was learning "down/stay" when we lived in the Glades. Something about this photo is beautiful to me, and is one of my favorites:

Eventually, we moved to Maine, and I rented out a house with a giant back yard. I have so many photos of my 2 dogs from that time, so have narrowed them down, which was difficult, to some of the best memories:

This is their first visit to Acadia National Park. I gave the boy a "job" to do to keep him focused because he loved people, and, at that time, he still wasn't afraid of other dogs. He would get hyper when he saw people, so I gave him this vest, put some things in it, and his job was to carry my belongings on our hike. I swear that boy knew he was working, and he strutted around proudly while wearing that vest - he felt important - it was hilarious.

Here's their very first snow, ever:

This was also in Maine, this was in their giant backyard, and these 2 clowns built trails in the snow. One to the tree that is just out of picture to the right, and one to their "bathroom" spot on another side of the yard about 100 feet away. The thing that slayed me the most was that at the end of their bathroom trail, the end closest to the backdoor, they built a jump. I am not kidding. They. built. a. jump. As in, they would run down the trail back from their bathroom spot, hit that jump, and fling themselves in the air. They built that.

Here's one in the spring, in the backyard. I like this one a lot because it looks like 2 old pals taking a walk and telling each other a joke: It looks like they're laughing their tails off:

We then moved across the country. I didn't want to move, but sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do. I tried to make the best of it, and while we still had to watch out for people and off leash dogs, (because by this time, my boy had been attacked and was now scared of other dogs), sometimes I was able to get them onto the beach for a little bit. Here's the boy, at the beach for the very first time:

He's looking at the birds that he wants to chase that I won't let him chase. I did get to let him run one time on the beach. It was almost dark, everyone else had left the beach - which never happened - but for some reason, one day, everyone left. I was able to bring my dogs down to the beach, and after spending about 5-10 minutes ensuring that there was no one on that beach for as far as I could see, I let them off leash. And they had a blast. They ran far, they ran out of site, they chased birds, they splashed in the ocean, they explored, and they had an amazing time. I called them back to me 4 times in total. Every single time, that boy was the first to come back because he still wanted to do what I wanted him to do.

This one simply illustrates how he liked to lie down:

I always called him "frog dog" when he did that.

And finally, my favorite photo of him ever:

Because of the purple spots on his tongue, everyone wants to assume he was part Chow. All vets he saw agreed that he was part Border Collie, none of them agreed he was party Chow, but also none of them could ever agree on what else he was. Some said black lab, some said he had no black lab in him at all. Most people think he's a black lab when they see his photos, but if you saw him in real life, he looked nothing like a black lab. Yes, he had black fur, but he did not resemble a black lab at all. I called him a BC/Black lab mix for a long time because the first vet said that when they were puppies. Not one other vet ever said black lab, they all disagreed, but by that time, the dogs had grown. What his mix was, I'll never know...but he, and his sister, definitely had some Border Collie characteristics.

This is just a sample of his life, just a sample of his adventures and new experiences. I have so many photos of them, so many videos of them. His life was definitely full of new things, new places, new people, new sites, new sounds, new scents - up and down the east coast, across the U.S. and back - he's been to so many states.

And each time we moved, I would narrate to them, pointing out the sites. They would get excited because I would make the trip exciting. I would look up before, or during the trip, things about the states we would be visiting, and I'd tell them trivial facts.

For example: "Dogs! We're now in Connecticut! Did you know...." and tell them things about the state.

I recited the Gettysburg Address to them when we moved from FL to ME and crossed the Mason Dixon line.

I sang the School House Rock song "I'm Just A Bill" when we were in Virginia and Maryland.

I told them about Brown vs Board of Education when we were in S. Carolina because we stayed near/in Summerton on our route north.

I did things like for each and every single state we ever drove through, or arrived in.

They started in Florida, and have been to Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania (beautiful state), New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, , Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California - a total of 23 states.

And they got out of the car in each and every single state. They felt the ground and they breathed in the air of each of those states. I made a point of doing that with them.

My boy is gone now - and I'm probably never going to get over the reason for it - but I do know that I did what I could to make his life fun, adventurous, and exciting.

I did what I could until I could do no more.

I am sorry, Shasta. RIP

Last edited by Three Wolves In Snow; 05-07-2020 at 09:33 AM.. Reason: Forgot a state
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Old 05-08-2020, 01:18 AM
Location: Cambridge, MA
4,821 posts, read 12,127,165 times
Reputation: 6673
What wonderful pictures, thanks for sharing!
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Old 05-14-2020, 10:06 AM
1,192 posts, read 529,438 times
Reputation: 3326
I am a cat person but enjoy dogs too. This was awesome. Choked me up. I love this story about Shasta, the pictures, the memories. Goodness sakes what a wonderful life shared with Shasta. Thank you for sharing it with us. Your writing just swept me away.
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Old 10-15-2020, 09:50 AM
Location: New River
256 posts, read 352,734 times
Reputation: 149
Default ❤️

Bless you Earth Angel
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