I’ll be saying goodbye to Shadow later this morning (I last wrote about why on December 23). A veterinarian who makes house calls will be arriving around 11 a.m. to administer to her with a respect and a dignity that is hard to find on the cold and sterile metal surfaces of an animal hospital.

Shadow came into my life on the afternoon of September 5, 1994. I want to say it was accidental, but it was anything but. I was two months into the task of recovering from my near-fatal motorcycle collision (and doing a pretty suckass job of it) when our lives intersected on a patch of grass beside Lake Balboa in Van Nuys.

In the whole mess of negativity I was mired she brought a much-needed positive, one that’s lasted 17 years, 4 months, and 11 days.

Right about now, it feels like it’ll take about that long to get over her being gone.

I love you Shadow and I was blessed to have you in my life. I don’t want you to go. But it’s time for me to put my selfishness aside and set you free.

UPDATE (12:18 p.m.): With one final breath Shadow passed peacefully at high noon with me by her side. Amidst the tears now and those to come, I am surprised to find my grief tempered with relief that her ordeal is over.

UPDATE (12:58 p.m.): Shadow’s spiral to complete immobility her last months made it hard to remember how much she liked to romp and stomp. Which is what makes finding this clip of her charging up our front steps in 2005 a complete treasure that simultaneously made me laugh and cry.