Final chapter on a long-distance adoption

Editor’s note: In 2002, The Herald published a story about a mother and daughter who drove all the way from New Mexico to adopt a West Highland terrier from the Dubois County Humane Society. This is a bittersweet update on “Shelley.”

To the editor:

Several years ago The Herald ran a story about a duo who drove across country to pick up a little white West Highland terrier at the Dubois County Humane Society. Now the story has a final chapter.

Seemingly out of their minds, an elderly mother and daughter drove from New Mexico to pick up one of two litter mates the DCHS rescued from certain disaster. Arriving at the facility on a hot, humid August day, the two were sleepless and covered in road grit. Somehow both passed their sanity test, collected the dog and started on the trip home. First on the “to do” list was to change the little miracle’s name to Shelley.

I still marvel at the unbounded courage of that little dog. Right after meeting two strangers, she was placed in a strange car and began the long journey to somewhere she could not have imagined. From the beginning, Shelley set the whole tone as to how this adventure would unfold. Shelley was definitely in charge and running everything from day one. On that first 1,000-mile journey home, she and my mom exchanged many looks, kisses, hugs, paw taps and chicken treats while getting to know each other. The bond was immediate and permanent.

Upon arriving in Albuquerque, Shelley found that she needed to set up a schedule and rules for her new home. So she ripped her brand new bed to shreds and informed her mom that she was sleeping on a pillow in her bed from now on. Shelley was to be fed at precise times every day, if not, she would find mom and let her know of the problem. Whenever the spirit moved her, she wanted to be outside so she could run like a maniac. Shelley also needed to keep up a neighborhood watch just in case some other canine tried something without her permission. Shelley also found out that her mom was 80 years old and needed her personal attention when she was not feeling well. For more than 10 years the story continued. Shelley the pup grew into a confident dog who loved to entertain and be friends with everyone she met. Along the way she took other 1,000-mile journeys, swam in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, took an independent stroll with her canine sister Cory on a busy Los Angeles street, directed traffic in the Boston Hilton’s lobby from her coffee table perch, toured the rat pack’s digs in Palm Springs and enjoyed a hike in the Rockies. She also survived a couple of medical scares with her distraught mom by her side.

She couldn’t however survive the last medical event. She was diagnosed with bladder cancer, which rapidly spread to her kidneys. She had to go through this last event with her “aunt” because her Mom had to move into an assisted-living facility. Shelley was heartbroken, but visited her mom many, many times. In late January of this year, it became evident that Shelley was having some type of medical issue. At first her problem remained undiagnosed, but an ultrasound revealed the devastating news of cancer. She went to a vet oncologist but no cure exists. Her now 90-year-old mom held Shelley when she made her last journey to Rainbow Bridge.  

The heartbreak is raw and agonizing. Shelley changed and strengthened our lives with her courage and humor. She was able to have a great life because  of the work and trust of the DCHS. She was saved from immediate harm by DCHS which then took a chance that Shelley could find a great home in New Mexico. DCHS is a wonderful , caring organization performing little miracles every day, including the miracle Shelley.  

—Kathy Vincent
Albuquerque,  New Mexico

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