Goodbye Sharkey

sharkeyA Fargo police officer who bred German shepherds on the side gave us Sharkey after he heard of the loss of our former dog. That was the last year we lived in Minnesota. Sharkey was a 2-year old full-blooded German shepherd. The breeder wanted to breed the more traditional black-n-brown shepherd, and Sharkey was fully black.

But Sharkey sure took to “shepherding.” I remember bringing him home in 2000. We had only eight children at the time. Sharkey naturally followed the kids wherever they went. They would move to the swings, Sharkey would be there. One would wonder into the garage to get a bike, Sharkey would follow. The kids would hang from his ears, try to ride his big back, pull his hair…he didn’t mind any of it. I loved to pet his thick hair, but he never really cared for my affection. He seemed to always want to be by the children.

He wasn’t a runner, which made owning him so incredibly easy. He would venture in and out of the home freely. He was always on the lookout for danger, standing on the front and back deck, aware of every miscreant coyote in the area. He was a protector at heart.

He struck fear into many delivery men in his days. I recall one summer evening a FedEx man started carrying a package up to the door. The front door was open and Sharkey–fully black, brutish, huge–just happened to walk out. Their eyes met, and though Sharkey didn’t bark or growl, his back hairs stood up and his shepherd ears stiffened. I don’t know if this released a bad memory in the FedEx man or what, but he dropped the box, turned, and ran–I mean, as-fast-as-you-can-run ran–for his truck, and off he drove.

Like any dog, Sharkey had his moments. Whenever the kids played at the creek, Sharkey would be sure to come back a muddy mess. He had a heart for chickens, too, particularly the chickens we used to own. We noticed the numbers thinning out, only to discover Sharkey sitting outside a hole in the wire where lucky chickens looking for food would squeeze through to their new found freedom. Two seconds later they were dog food. Feathers, bones and all–leaving no trace whatsoever. We patched the hole and eventually gave up on trying to keep chickens.

Another annoying thing was whenever we’d go sledding down our hill in our backyard. Sharkey would chase the kids down the hill, jump in front of the sleds, sometimes even nip at the kids’ boots. We would often chain him up to a post up by the house where he would yelp and bark in misery.

You see, Sharkey’s family were his sheep. He saw himself as our protector, a natural instinct to shepherd us where he thought we should go.

I would notice this whenever I would take the kids on a walk. Sharkey would follow along, run back and forth from the front kid to the back, always aware of where everyone was. If one of the kids wandered off the trail to do something as innocent as picking flowers, he would use his large shepherd nose to nudge him or her back on trail.

Sharkey is 11 years old. He limps and struggles to follow the kids in and out of the house. Two years ago he had a problem with pressure wounds, but Wendy’s treatments nursed him back to normal. The pressure wounds returned about two months ago, and though Wendy has been treating the wounds and bandaging and re-bandaging 2 to 3 times a day, the healing hasn’t happened. It has gotten worse. We made the decision to put the old guy down, and the thought has bred many tears since.

We’re going to miss Sharkey. He taught us much about shepherding.

About Chris & Wendy Jeub

The Jeub Family live in Monument, Colorado. They encourage couples to love God and love one another, building an atmosphere of love in their homes.

  • Teresa

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your dog. Pets truly do become part of the family. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Kathleen

    My sincere condolences.

  • Barbi

    Beautiful tribute! God bless you all~

  • Renee

    I would first like to extend my deepest sympathy to you and your family for your loss of a very beloved and special family member. I too, very soon will have to put down my cat Yeltsin whom I’ve had for 14 years. My oldest child is 16yrs old, but my other children came after him so he has grown up with them. Since we were a military family for many years, Yeltsin has traveled with us to Germany and all over the U.S. We would joke that we were going to buy him a French beret and plaster his carrier with stickers from all over the world. He traveled and endured alot more than most cats ever would have tolerated, and he has always been so sweet. Never has he scratched or bit anyone, including the kids, no matter how many times he had to play “dress up” with my girls. His name came to me because he has multiple toes and I thought his mother may have been “exposed” to chemicals such as “nuclear run off” similar to some Russian cities during the cold war; hence Yeltsin. However, I found out later that these types of cats are called “Hemingway Cats” because Hemingway kept many of these multi-toed cats at his estate in Florida where you can still find them today. Yeltsin began losing weight rapidly a few months ago and nothing could satisfy his hunger. The vet ran tests, and said it was his thyroid, but his white cells were high and the medicine I have for his condition has done nothing for him. The last week or so he has become very weak and shakes when he walks, and I know what I need to do. This will be very difficult because our pets are like our children. They become part of the “pack” or family adopting “these people” as their own and they teach us some of greatest lessons about unconditional love and acceptance we will ever learn. They freely give unconditional love, trust and acceptance without any solicitation on our part, and all we have to do is receive it. Accepting the love from our pets is often much easier and uncomplicated than accepting it from one another. I believe God wants us to make every effort with our family and friends to attain this level of love and acceptance that we so effortlessly do with our pets. I think that’s the key lesson in this life here. I know that’s the message you and your family teach and I thank you for sharing your story. I pray that your family will find comfort and peace during this sad time. Sincerely, Renee

  • Jo

    You have my deepest sympathies.

  • http://jent-manyblessings.blogspot.com JenT

    Awww…how sad. He sounds like a wonderful dog.

  • Pamela

    We bred German shepherds they are the best dogs ever. We have a 1yr old female and love her to death. Are Female will be going into heat soon when time has healed and the family is ready let us know. We would love to give you a puppy as a gift from us.
    As a mother of 6 girls 10 and under I could just picture the tears I am so sorry.

    What a Beautiful tribute sounds like are Elsa.

    God Bless you all.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wewinnow Tammy (wewinnow)

    So sorry. We had to put down our husky/shepherd cross (after 13 great years). It is hard to lose such a trusted and loved member of the family.

  • Amy

    So, sorry. I know that’s tough. I grew up with a wonderful German Shepherd, and am still partial to them.

  • deanna

    i’m so sorry for your loss. hugs to your family

  • NancyE

    Dear Jeubs,
    I am so sorry to hear about Sharkey. He has been so much a part of your lives, and a friendly welcome to us whenever we’ve been over. I can hear his paws “clicking” across your wood floors in my mind! The kids will be so sad to hear the news.
    Much love, Nancy

  • http://www.chaarmpress.blogspot.com Charli

    Oh I’m sorry! I had a beautiful Mini Collie-German Shepherd mix. I miss him even today. Bless you all…

  • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris & Wendy

    Thank you for your kind messages. Pamela, we may just take you up on your offer, very generous of you. -chris

  • http://friztime.blogspot.com Tammy

    I’m so sorry to hear this news. Our dog is like another member of the family. His loss would be felt so strongly. Our prayers are with you all.
    The Frisbee Family

  • kelly

    I am deeply sorry about the loss of your beloved pet. Losing a pet is never easy. 4 years ago, I was faced with the decision of putting down my cat who was suffering from cancer and I was just a kid then. I had sort of grown up with him (before he was mine, he belonged to my grandparents) and he was very special to me. I miss him still.

    May Sharkey stay in your hearts forever. God bless him and your family.

  • Wesleigh

    Hi Jeubs,

    I saw you guys on KBTD, and I looked for a website.

    And I found this. :)

    I’m a frequent visitor to this site, but I’ve never posted.

    I’m really sorry about your dog, I hope you’re well stocked in Kleenex.

    I really appreciate you guys keeping this site updated- it’s an inspiration- thank you.



  • Carol

    So sorry to hear of this, what a fun, sweet sounding dog.

  • Aunt Bonnie and Uncle David

    We are deeply saddened to hear about the loss of your Sharkey. Oh how well we know about how comforting and loving our beloved pets can be. This year I lost two Dachshunds — both suddenly. Please know that you are in our prayers. Cherish your beautiful memories as they will carry you over time. And our new little Miss Daisy has been a delight for us and especially helping Uncle David with the loss of his brother. We share your heartache and will keep you close to our hearts during your sadness. God bless all of you!

  • Joy

    I am so sorry about losing your family pet (dog).

  • Emily

    I am so sorry i have a 10 year old poodle Kiara and would not know what to do if she had to be put down my heart goes out to you. God bless you all and Sharkey.


  • Julia

    i remember sharkey and those little chickens as well! i remember at you guys birthday bashes we used to wipe our hands after eating cheesy pufs on sharkey! we also used to try and pretend to send our old chicken bones to sharkey as a treat! well im sorry sharkeys gone but God has a plan for us all and im sure he had a plan for sharkey to! love you guys, Julia