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My name is Kelsey Stapp. In 2007 my family grew by one when we adopted Shadow from GBGRR. We had recently lost a dog and were ready to bring a new golden into our lives. We had no idea that there was a huge piece of our hearts missing that Shadow would fill and then some. He was so lovable and seemed to follow everyone around with a “aren’t you gonna pet me”/“how can I make your day better” face. Most of the time that came with his lip caught on his tooth unbeknownst to him or with a few awoos. His awoos would become a daily conversation where all you had to do was call him over and say “What?”, he loved to talk.

I was 11 when we adopted Shadow but later on in high school I started to go on runs in my neighborhood. As we had fattened him up since adopting him I got the idea of taking him on runs/walks with me. Poor guy would try his very hardest until we got about half a mile in and he would stop dead in his tracks as if to say “Kelsey, you have spoiled me with A/C, snuggles, and treats what made you think I’d want to be a running dog?” Whenever I was sad, sometimes crying, he would be my pillow and my friend. You know people who can “ligh up a room with their smile”, well Shadow did more than that, he filled the room with relentless joy. Even when he was just laying on the cold tile during the summer with a little bit of a bored look on his face, he still radiated love.

My mom and Shadow had a particularly great relationship. He always greeted her when she got home from work and always starred at her car as she left. Every morning, usually much earlier than she preferred, his stinky, heavy breathing and clicking of his claws on the wood floor would force her to open her eyes to his infectious smile. Then she’d wake herself up and proceed to get ready for work. Normally this consisted of blow drying her hair which was something Shadow had no idea he was missing and when he somehow got mom to blow dry his fur he was hooked. He adopted my step dad into our family pretty quickly too and had a funny relationship with our old and grumpy cat, Gracie Lou. My step dad would occasionally take him on car rides and if he was a really good boy they would stop and share a McDonald’s burger together. He was persistent in thinking Gracie would want to play and he’d inch up to her. He would get just close enough to her for her to give him a little swat on the nose (the whole time she’d either pretend he didn’t exist or stare right at him whilst giving a look of “sure come over here dude but it’s not gonna end well”). He’d back away, come to one of us for reassuring and sugars (our word for petting him), and live to try playing with her another day. Even when he got old you could tell he was holding on to every ounce of puppy he had left in him.

This dog was always smiling. I can’t count how many times he cheered me up from some of my worst days just by looking at me. And, lord, if he rested his little head on your arm or pawed at you for sugars, I think I can speak for the whole family that we all melted like butter for him. With kids, he was amazing. If especially little ones wanted to play doctor with him, meaning putting face syringes all around and patting him everywhere, he would stand there with that smile, happy to be their play date for a little while.

He was curious too with new people or if we smelled like other dogs/cats. He’d sniff you and then proceed to lick you. We always said he wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but that was in his own unique way. He might not have been able to fetch the newspaper or sometimes walk in a totally straight line, but he knew that simply lying down or sitting would get him a treat, sometimes two. I can’t stress enough how much we loved Shadow. He was our boy, our big baby. Everyone in the family and strangers felt close to this pup. We wouldn’t have been blessed with Shadow if it hadn’t been for Golden Beginnings. Furthermore, Shadow might not have been appreciated the way he so deserved to be if it hadn’t been for y’all, in fact he probably would have been fully neglected. The thought of that is unfathomable considering how much light and love he gave us.

Shadow passed away this April. He declined pretty quickly and we knew he was ready to go. I still have a very vivid memory of meeting a few of your dogs when we were picking our new fur baby out and I remember picking Shadow. I apologize for the novel. I wanted to give y’all the full picture of how much Golden Beginnings blessed us. Thank you so, so much. Keep doing what you’re doing.

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