Shadow and I found each other at Lake Balboa in the Sepulveda Basin on Labor Day of 1994. I was biking around the lake a couple dark months into my recovery from my near-fatal motorcycle accident, which wasn’t going all that well. She was a couple months old and abandoned.

I was helpless not to tuck her into my jacket and bike/walk carefully home to Van Nuys with her, but my first words to the little blob of black fur and big eyes sitting there staring back at where I placed her on the bed were “I’m in no position to care for anything at this point in my life.”

I sat there next to her arguing outloud why that was true and why the first thing I need to do the next morning was take her to the pound (after getting my vicodin prescription refilled) — and I was winning that debate. Then she wobbled over, crawled up into my lap and fell asleep instantaneously like dogs can.

And here she is 16 years later — The Best Possible Thing That Could Have Happened To Me At That Exact Moment In My Life.

I was abandoned by all sorts of people throughout that decade — and I did my share of abandoning. But Shadow and I, nothing was going to break us up.

Given her age, I don’t know how many more moments we’ll have together, but I’m happy for all of them, especially this one of her wandering around the backyard this morning.

I love you, Shadow.