my dad and my dog

If you were following my blog around this time last year, you know that it was incredibly hard to say goodbye to Boo, my dog for fourteen years. It was hard for months and months - it's still hard. I still haven't opened the box of her fur, I still haven't read back through the post I wrote the night before we had to put her down. I still haven't decided if I ever want my own dog again because it was so hard to say goodbye.

She was "my dog," but who knows whether her favorite person was actually me or Dad. She adored Dad, and he loved her too. I'll never forget how I would know when Dad was awake in the morning; I could tell because Boo, laying at the end of the hallway, would start thumping her tail against the ground because she knew he was coming. He was so faithful to her; part of how I knew I could trust him was because of how well he took care of my dog. I remember when she stabbed her leg on a loose piece of fencing, you would have thought she was Dad's own child from how he cared for her and got her to the veterinarian and did whatever she needed to heal. For years I've said that I draw conclusions about men by how they treat dogs - now I know how I came to that conclusion. After we put Boo to sleep, Dad and I almost never talked about it. But I knew it was because neither of us wanted to; it was so painful. I rarely ever saw my Dad cry, but I remember the tears in his eyes that day. I had a ring made for myself with a paw print and "I'll always love you" inside the band; I showed it to him, and that may have been the last we really spoke of her. Until yesterday.

One of Dad's best friends, a fellow art professor, came over yesterday morning. He brought a gift in a bag and I thought it was for mom, whose birthday was yesterday. But he said it was for me. Puzzled, I read the note he put with it.

"Shelby, your father did a photo shoot for me at the beginning of last summer. He gave me an invoice but then said,  'You know could you please do this painting for Shelby for me? I don't know the cost, but I'll do another photo shoot or whatever...' I said I would but by the end of summer I had never gotten to it so told him I would just pay him. He told me, 'Please Tim, just promise me you'll do this painting, I don't care when you do it. Just please do this for Shelby.' I promised I would, and today I fulfill that promise. Lots of love, Tim Timmerman."

I had no idea what this painting was going to be, but I was already a mess of tears. Then I opened it.

I still don't have words to describe how much this all means. It is so hard to receive the most beautiful gift from someone you can't thank anymore. I so badly want him to know how perfect it is, how much I will treasure this, and how the greatest treasure of it all is to know that he wanted it for me, even months after we said goodbye. After four weeks of separation, it was like Dad was actually still there a little bit, there was fresh word, a new gift. So it hurt a lot to receive this gift, but I would not have had it any other way.

Isn't it perfect?

My God is so good. He has not forgotten a single tear I have ever cried. There were days I wondered if He cared, if He really loved me. But he does. He loves me and my dad and that dog. 

I did a national photo contest in 2008; Dad taught me how to use the nice fancy digital camera and helped me edit the lighting. The photo won first place. 

I've kept this photo with me in all my travels, from TeenPact to China to Canada and back. Two of the most special beings I have ever known and loved. Now they are together again. And someday I'll be there too. 

The theme was Faithfulness. Oh, my God is faithful. 


  1. A sweet birthday blessing for your momma as well - knowing you felt the touch of your dad!

  2. God is so good, and so tender with us! He speaks in a language that only we know! I'm reading your post on the day that our last- and favorite- bunny died. He was a sweet old man, about 15 years old. The most cuddly and patient of all the bunnies we had. He was sick with an abscess on his face this past month and I had the privilege to watch my son (age 22) doctor him with the most gentle care. I am sad to lose our bunny but I will always treasure the picture of my son doctoring him with knowledge he had gained in searching the internet. I also know what it is to receive a late gift. I discovered my mother in her bed on my last visit home. She had suffered a massive stroke and lingered 3 more days. Fortunately, one of my sisters had visited earlier. She told us Mom had showed her some gifts she was saving for my visit. One was a collection of 3 Hummel children figures for the Christmas tree. Two boys and a girl- one for each of my children. We opened my birthday presents with Mom in her hospital room, smiling through our tears. His timing is perfect. I'm so glad that your dad- and God- gifted you with this beautiful reminder of Boo.


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