Brandy Jean Shepard
March 29, 2002 - October 26, 2006
Brandy was born March 29th 2002, and in the parlance of dog breeders was known initially as "Purple Female" after the color of the little unique-colored collar the breeder placed around each new-born puppy's neck to identify it. We, at first, called her Phoebe, a seemingly perfect match for her sweet and docile disposition, and an alliterative connection to our other dog, Phantom (2000–2014). Then, she got over the intestinal bug she came home with and her true, high-spirited personality came out. Phoebe no longer seemed like an appropriate name and after much discussion, we chose Brandy after the golden-brown color of her coat. She was from the "American" line of yellow Labrador Retrievers--a line that is known for its hunting prowess. Although she never hunted in the literal sense, she was always inquisitive, searching, and hunting for new adventures.

Richly blessed with energy, joy, and love, Brandy lived her life with gusto and enthusiasm. Everything she did, she did enthusiastically. She played enthusiastically, she walked enthusiastically, she sat enthusiastically, often with just the very tip of her tail wagging vigorously. Many times she would sit on an ottoman or a low chair with her front paws on the floor. She loved her people and her bubba, Phantom, enthusiastically. She ate everything with enthusiasm whether it was kibble, meat, vegetables, bugs, frogs, or one of her favorites, foam earplugs. And just as it all went in, it came out the other end with the same level of gusto and enthusiasm. Her ritual of vigorously wiping her feet every time she went to the bathroom never ceased to bring a smile to the face of those who witnessed it. She even slept enthusiastically as attested by her vocalizations, twitching paws, and thumping tail during her many doggie dreams. For Brandy, it was never a question of the cup being half-full or half-empty. Her cup was always full and overflowing with life, joy, and love.

As anyone who has had the privilege of sharing their life with a dog knows, Brandy was so much more than a pet--she was a part of our family. Her devotion and loyalty to us knew no limits. Her thundering, wagging tail eased the tensions of many a long day at work or school and let us know that she loved us unconditionally. Wherever we went in the house, she followed. If we were distributed in different parts of the house, she would try to find a location to position herself allowing her to keep tabs on all of us. She especially liked to be in the kitchen with us in the hopes that some delectable manna might just happen to fall from above. She and Phantom particularly loved ice cubes and cheese and had the uncanny ability to tell what you were getting out of the refrigerator just by the sound it made, even when they were at the other end of the house.

Nothing quite says "good morning" like a cold, wet, excited dog nose in your face. One of Brandy's favorite morning games was to wait, sitting patiently, beside the bed for me to open my eyes in the morning. As soon as I did, she lunged forward to greet me with her giant, wet nose. What usually followed was a rollicking session of wrestling and belly rubbing. She had an amazing "tickle spot" on her tummy that when scratched caused her to go into spastic leg scratching and gnawing. Playing "lap dog" was another of her favorite games where she would drape the upper half of her huge body over your lap and then taunt Phantom from above. She had so many games she loved to play: ear-bopper, blue jack, tug-o'-war to name a few, but probably her favorite was "Capture-the-Phantom" where she would try to pin her brother behind the air conditioning unit in the back yard. Phantom didn't exactly hate it, and he would, sometimes, turn the tables on her and chase her around the yard, much to her delight.
Beautiful Brandy
Despite the fact that Phantom was two years older and much more calm and sedate, Brandy adored him. When Phantom would lie down, Brandy would typically go over to him and "spoon" herself up next to him. As soon as she did, Phantom would invariably drape his head over her body. She and Phantom seemed to be joined at the hip and she never wanted to be anywhere without him. She wouldn't even go outside without him accompanying her. Whenever she wanted to play, she would try to tempt Phantom with one toy after another until she found the one he wanted to play with. They loved to romp together and chase each other in the yard as well as their favorite destination--the dog beach at Carpinteria. Neither dog was much on swimming, but they did love to chase each other in and out of the waves at the beach. Each time we made the drive to the beach, as we approached the shore on the 101 just north of Ventura, Brandy could smell the change in the air and would start to get worked up in anticipation of another romping day at the beach.

Youthful and energetic as always, Brandy got out of our yard shortly after 8:00PM on the evening of October 26th, 2006 and went hunting for another adventure. Phantom followed, but at some point, turned around and returned home. For whatever reason, this time she didn't stay with him. Instead, Brandy continued onward, perhaps headed toward our old house--we'll never know. We were frantically searching for her when we received a phone call that a little before 9:00PM, Brandy had darted out into traffic on a busy street and was struck by a car. The driver stopped and rendered aid to her. Another driver in a pickup truck stopped and took her to the Animal Emergency Care Center. As they were loading her up to take her to the vet, they called us. In honor of the purple collar she was given at birth we had always gotten purple collars for Brandy, and the one she was wearing had our phone number stitched into it for just such an emergency. We got to the vet hospital a few minutes later, but Brandy had already passed away. We will always be grateful for the kindness of strangers who cared for Brandy in her final minutes. She was such a social dog and she loved meeting people. We're relieved to know that she didn't spend her final moments alone and frightened, but in the loving care of people. On Sunday afternoon, November 5th, 2006--a gloriously clear and warm day--we brought Brandy one last time to her favorite place, the dog beach at Carpinteria. There, we scattered her ashes in the water and returned her to the ocean and beach she loved so much. Brandy, thank you for your love, your joy, and your enthusiasm. You were a great dog, beautiful, smart, funny, expressive, happy, and a blessing to our lives. We will always love you and cherish the four-and-a-half brief years we got to share with you. Rest in peace little girl, and happy hunting.

Brandy and Cecei
Pick me! Pick me! I'm sick, but I'll
pretend to be sweet and docile!!! We did.
Baby Brandy
Brandy's first day home, exploring her new world.
Little Brandy
What is it, Phantom?
Running in the back yard
At the back door
I promise I'll be good this time!
Spooning with Phantom
Cuddled up with her big brother.

If you want the ball, you'll have to go get it!

I love the beach!!!

Cold, wet nose anyone?

I want an ice cube, I want an ice cube!
Brandy sitting
Who says dogs don't need chairs?
Nose to Nose with Phantom
We're not joined at the hip, we're joined at the head!
Goodbye, Brandy
Goodbye, Brandy. We miss you and we love you.
Brian, Jenny, Phillip, Cecilia, and Phantom

It's amazing how something that can't speak can tell you so much about the joy of life.
Brandy was enthusiastic about everything she did and lived her life to the fullest, with unabashed joy.
Oh, that we could all live and love so enthusiastically!