Abby Gail Shepard
2005 - August 9, 2015

Abby Abby came into our lives on November 18, 2006 when she rescued us following the untimely loss of Brandy (2002–2006) earlier that year. As a shelter rescue, we never knew her birthdate, but believe it was sometime in 2005. We always celebrated November 18th, though, as Abby Day! The rescue facility had named her Desirée, but that seemed a bit too highfalutin for this crazy dog. We called her Abby, or Little Orphan Abby, the Flabby Black Labby (she was all of those things). She joined our family, including an older brother named Phantom (2000–2014) to whom she quickly bonded and was inseparable for the next eight years. In late May of this year, we brought home a new Lab puppy named Suzy and in just the two-plus months they had together, the bond was already quite strong and neither went anywhere or did anything without the other.

Beach time was a favorite activity for Abby. She was absolutely fearless charging into the waves at the dog beach in Santa Barbara to “retrieve” the Air Kong. In reality, what she liked to do was charge out to the toy, touch it, then swim back without it, forcing me to go get it. You see, Abby was really a Labrador Deceiver. She was a completely natural swimmer, and it seemed to feel quite good to her. Abby would keep swimming to the point of exhaustion if we didn’t make her stop and rest. Her other favorite activities were eating, sleeping, farting, and pooping. She could easily clear a room with one of her gas bombs and she had a snore that could be heard from outside the house!

Black Labradors are absolutely beautiful, especially in the sunlight when their fur shines and they seem to glow. Abby loved to lie out in the sun. She would frequently come find one of us in the house with her “Help! Timmy fell down the well!” look, demanding to go outside. As soon as we let her out, though, she would just plop down in a sunny spot and go to sleep. Abby was not without her health issues. We knew when we adopted her that she had pretty severe hip dysplasia and did our best to get the weight off her to reduce the stress on her joints. She also had epilepsy and was prone to seizures every few weeks or so. Other than that, though, her needs were simple. All she really wanted was to be with us and to be loved. We completely adored her and loved her, and know she felt the same about us.

You rarely get advance warning when tragedy strikes. As anyone with Labrador Retrievers knows, they can be voracious eaters and have a tendency to bloat if you are not careful with how you feed them. Abby had had two close calls in previous years that both required surgery. We had learned to be extremely vigilant with her and to feed her slowly and keep her calm afterward. On the morning of Sunday, August 9, 2015, Abby had already eaten and taken a nap. A little later, we were all sitting on the back patio where she had her head in my lap getting petted and her ears rubbed. She stood up, walked a few feet away and started hacking and attempting to vomit with no result. Because of our previous experience, we immediately recognized the symptoms of bloat and rushed her to the emergency veterinary hospital near our house. Unfortunately, the doctor felt a third abdominal surgery was too risky, and not likely to help given all her other medical issues. Not wanting her to suffer any more, we made the difficult decision to let her go. Abby passed quietly in our arms at 10:45am. For those of you with dogs, especially the larger breeds, please learn to recognize the symptoms of bloat. Although in our case there was very little we could do, by recognizing it immediately, we were able to minimize her suffering. If you have a voracious eater, I highly recommend the Slow-Feeder bowl by Kyjen. Of all the things we tried to slow Abby down when eating, this is the only product that actually worked for her.

Adopting Abby
The day Abby adopted us!
These silly people think my name is Desirée!
Abby Monkey
At heart, I'm really a crazy monkey!
Abby with Santa
I promise, I was a good girl!
 (she was a GREAT girl!!!)
Abby at the Fireplace
Doin' what Labs do best!
Phantom and Abby sleeping
Lying in the sun.
 AKA: Timmy fell down the well!
Hurry up and throw the kong
Hurry up and throw the Air Kong, Dad!
Fooled ya!
Ha, fooled ya! Now you can go get it!
Abby Eye
Do you have cheese? If not, I'll take chicken!
Young Abby Face
Abby with her bubba Phantom
Meeting Suzy
Meeting Suzy.
Showing Suzy how it's done
Showing Suzy how things are done.
Abby Portrait
Abby, you beautiful sweet girl. We miss you and we'll always love you.
Brian, Jenny, Phillip, Cecilia, and Suzy

It's amazing how something that can't speak can teach you so much about the joy of life.
Abby lived her life to the fullest, giving love with every breath.
Oh, that we could all live and love so enthusiastically!