Phantom "Big Guy" Shepard
March 26, 2000 - February 17, 2014

Phantom Phantom was born March 26, 2000 in Norman, Oklahoma. He was of the English line of Labrador Retrievers known for their large square heads and show-dog good looks. True to his breed, he was a beautiful dog and remained gorgeous throughout his life. As many dog breeders do, his used little colored collars to identify the different puppies. By chance, his collar was green and he was known initially as “Green Boy #3.” He had a wonderful white coat as a puppy leading us to choose Phantom for his name. In keeping with his origins, though, he continued to wear a green collar all his life.

Home life for Phantom was relatively calm for a while. In addition to our family, we were caring for Puck, a female golden retriever that belonged to a dear friend who was travelling. Puck became Phantom’s surrogate mother and taught him to sit on command and to pee like a girl. For the rest of his life, he never once lifted his leg. Not long after Puck returned to her owner, Phantom’s life took a wild turn when we brought another yellow Lab puppy home. Brandy (2002–2006) loved her older brother and took great delight in teasing and playing with him. In return, Phantom took great delight in finally having another dog with whom he could cuddle and sleep. After the untimely loss of Brandy, Phantom gained another new sister: Little Orphan Abby (2005–2015), the flabby, black Labby. Although he was initially wary of this new high-energy “thing,” Abby and Phantom became inseparable for the next eight years and she was with him at the very end.

As anyone who has had the privilege of sharing their life with a four-legged companion knows, they are so much more than just “pets.” Phantom was a member of our family in every sense of the word. He shared our joys, triumphs, and tears, and had an incredible ability to know when we needed comforting. His massive, wagging tail and bright eyes added extra urgency to his desire to play when he brought you a toy, brightening even the most difficult of days.

Noses on dogs are incredibly sensitive, and Phantom’s was no exception. Even in his later years, when he was nearly deaf, he could detect the opening of the cheese drawer in the refrigerator while in a deep sleep at the other end of the house. No sooner had you opened the drawer than you realized he was standing next to you anxiously hoping for one of his favorite treats. Unlike many Labrador Retrievers–and his two siblings–Phantom was not a voracious eater. He loved the occasional treat, but he remained trim and svelte his entire life.

To us, he will always be known as “Big Guy.” Although he was never overweight, he was several inches taller than either of his two sisters. Plus, Big Guy seemed so much more appropriate than our other nickname for him, “The Phantom Menace,” since he was anything but menacing. Phantom was always the perfect gentleman and seemed to understand how his size could be intimidating to others. He would keep a respectful distance until he knew you and then would watch over you as if standing guard.

On Monday evening, February 17, 2014, Phantom let us know it was time for him to go. He had been struggling with lameness and pain in his front left leg for several weeks, but that night, all of his legs completely gave out on him. With him no longer able to stand, and in obvious distress, we made the difficult decision to end his suffering. The folks at Hulen Hills Animal Hospital in Fort Worth were incredibly caring and generous, and Phantom calmly slipped away in our arms at 10:16pm.

Majestic, gentle, sweet, and beautiful, Phantom brought nearly fourteen wonderful years to our family. We could not have asked for, or even imagined, a better companion. Thank you for sharing your love with us. Rest in peace dear friend.

Phantom at 3 weeks
Green Boy #3 at three weeks
Beautiful Phantom
Beautiful as always!
Phantom with Blue Jack
Phantom with Red Toy
No, really. Play!!
Phantom with Ball and Nylabone
I mean it! PLAY!!!
Phantom and Abby sleeping
Cuddled up with Abby
Phantom running on the beach
Chasing Brandy at the Beach
Standing Guard
The Lifeguard is on Duty
Big Nose
Do you have cheese?
Phantom with Santa
I've been good this year!
(He was GREAT every year!)
Happy Phantom
It's hard to be humble when you're this gorgeous!
Phantom and Brandy
Brandy and Phantom
Phantom's Paw
Phantom, you've left your mark on us big guy. We miss you and we'll always love you.
Brian, Jenny, Phillip, Cecilia, and Abby

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