Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Million Little Stories

I feel over-whelmed by the number of people that read my post about Shiloh. Or at least how many times it was looked at, I have no way of knowing how many individual people it is. I guess the premise presented in 'Marley & Me' is true--there's just something about animals that brings out the best in us and that brings us together. Although...I can guarantee you, I won't be watching 'Marley & Me' for a long time...or 'Where the Red Fern Grows'....or 'Homeward Bound'....or anything with a dog in it.

Some of you may know that I've been toying with the idea of writing a children's series of books about Shiloh for a few years now. I had to create a picture book for a class I took in college, and the obvious choice for me was to make Shiloh the main character. It was a big hit--100% for a grade and enthusiasm from the class. I've come up with a few ideas and fiddled around with plots, but I could never get anything the way I wanted it. And I never did find an illustrator...I can't draw worth beans.

The original idea was to have Shiloh and Piper be main characters, as they were in the original story. But Piper died from lymphoma this spring, and now Shiloh is gone due to cancer (we think of the spleen...stupid spleen). For those of you that don't know, Piper is my brother's beagle. Adam and Melanie adopted Piper just a few months after we adopted Shiloh, she was about 4 months younger than him. For a short while Adam lived with Curtis so we had two dogs and two guys smushed in a tiny apartment in Bowling Green. But Shiloh and Piper loved playing together. Their first Christmas was a hilarity. We were all at my mom's house and watched them run back and forth across the house over and over and over again. They were running so hard on their little puppy legs that they actually shifted the rug my mom's dining room table was on. They were so small then that they both fit into a little green doggy bed.

Anyway...I digress...the original story was illustrated with photos cut out and glued onto fabric or paper backgrounds. Like I said, I can't draw worth beans...so I used felt and fabric scraps to make the backgrounds, and cut out pictures of Piper and Shiloh to go into the scenes. The children in the story were pictures of my brother and I when we were little. I always liked the idea of having their world be animated but the dogs be photos. Now...even with probably close to 1,000 pictures of Shiloh...I know I'd never have enough shots to tell the stories.

But for some reason I really want to get back to writing the Shiloh stories. I think I want to pay tribute to him somehow. There's a million little stories to tell...like the Christmas one above, or how he always tried to jump out of the bathtub, or how when he was a puppy he wiggled up to sit behind my head, perched on my shoulders. I always wanted to write a story about his accident and his bad leg, and how although it slowed him down he wasn't really all that different from other dogs. He did so many funny little things that I think I want to capture more permanently than in my memory which will eventually go fuzzy.

I don't know that anyone would ever publish it but even if its just for me and my family, its enough to remember him. I look at the little grave we made for him and I think to myself, its just not enough. I realize it makes no difference to him, it never would have, he was a dog that never thought much of books. But he gave me so much in his short life. I didn't know that he was sick, dying really, so I didn't get to spoil him in his last few weeks. I regret that so much, even though I know there's no way I could've known. The symptoms didn't present until it was way past too late. But I can do this now. I can do this for him, for me, for Curtis. I can remember and I can write.

I'm going to try to not be overly depressing and dwell on him in the next few days and weeks. But it's hard. I didn't sleep well last night. I think night two and day two are proving harder than the first. It's sinking in and Bode's starting to figure things out. If by nothing else than watching me cry all the time, bless his furry heart. I started crying this morning when I didn't have to put food in two bowls and Bode came up to me. His ears were down which is normal for a dog that is worried/scared, but then he popped them straight up and looked right in my eyes like he was ready to listen. So I do what we all do with dogs and poured my heart out to him, and what did he do? He put his paw on my leg and leaned up to lick my face. Just what Shiloh used to do. And Bode has never acted this way before. He never reacted to my being upset until now. I guess Shiloh had time to teach Bode a thing or two about taking care of his people before he had to leave us.

Okay,  not being very successful at not being depressing...sorry about that. I'll have more to write as I process through things. I've learned a lot about God through this, in a way. I'm not quite ready to share that story but I will soon. I'm still working it all out with Him and there's more to it than Shiloh.

Anyway...for each of you that read my post about Shiloh and have reached out to comfort me from across the web...thank you. I've treasured each word and felt it as a warm hug. I know some of you aren't even dog lovers but you know how much I adored him, so thank you.

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