Drawing comfort from social media

Seven nights ago, I was on my hands and knees, sobbing into the cold linoleum floor of Fairfield Animal Hospital in Kelowna.

My best friend for almost 10 years was facing death without surgery.

Even surgery might kill him. He’s almost 12 and there was no knowing what anesthesia or surgery could do to my old man.

social media

Shep’s stomach twisted in his otherwise healthy body. He was dry heaving and gasping for air, last Saturday evening. We herded him into the truck, got him to the hospital and waited for the terrible news.

I collapsed. My American was here with me and, with a cool head about him, handled the more difficult aspects of the night … not the least of which was holding me up.

When we got home, I posted a short status update, pleading for my friends’ thoughts, strengths and crossed fingers … knowing full well this was but one small moment, no matter how tragic to me, in the world’s events that night.

What followed brings me back to tears even today. My American and I sat on the couch holding each other, while I read each one of the 59 comments and water poured out of my eyes.

Each comment filled with shock, love and well wishes for our boy.

Shep, some of you may not know, is a popular dog in cyberspace. Since the day I joined Facebook in 2007 and Twitter in 2009, I’ve been posting regular pictures of him and his adventures.

Hiking in the Rockies.

Chilling in the Atlantic Ocean.

Running through grassy fields near ghost towns in Washington State.

Camping in Idaho.

Many of you know we even have a website, Our Great Escape, dedicated to our travels.

He matters to people, some of whom have never met him. They love him and his infectious smile, the kind that communicates his gentle, patient and protective nature through a two-dimensional computer screen.

dog stomach torsion

With every update I posted on his progress, we got more likes — more likes than I’ve seen before on my pages — along with cheers and more love.

Shep is a trooper! Sending my love and thoughts to all of you. Give Shep a big hug for me. ~ Cassie

So happy to hear he’s doing well..!! ~ Kait

Poor sheppy boy. We will continue our prayers! ~ Kelly

dog gastric torsion surgery

And when I announced he was discharged from the hospital and coming home:

Oh I’m so glad for you Angela!!!!!!! You must be elated with happiness!!! ~ Lauren

Someone is getting that familiar smile back in his eyes….. Or he is really stoned:). Either way, glad he is feeling better! ~ Krista

So glad he is doing so well. ~ Tracey

With every click of a ‘like’ button on Facebook and Instagram, with every comment scattered about our social media platforms, we felt your love.

It gave me incredible comfort to know you took the time to think of me, Shep and Our American. It struck me that you cared so much about our bubba and how much he means to us.

Dogs are family and Shep gives his love to anyone who will take the time to find that scratch spot behind his ears.

I wasn’t ready to lose him. I wasn’t ready to miss his goofy smile in the rearview mirror of my truck.

I wasn’t ready to go on adventures without my co-pilot.

And I know you weren’t ready for that to happen either.

Shep gets his staples out Friday and we’re hoping he’s well enough for an adventure soon. Stay tuned on Our Great Escape. I’m hoping for a snowy one, believe it or not.

In the meantime, from the bottom of our hearts — all three of them — we thank you for being there for us when we needed your thoughts and strength.

gastric torsion surgery dog

Also, if you are a mom or dad to a larger, barrel-chested dog, please read up on gastric torsion and know the warning signs. The quicker you get your best friend to the hospital, the more chance he has of survival.

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