My life with Shep began over a half decade ago. A roommate returned from her visit with family on the West Coast one day, with an individual I didn't recognize. "This is Shep" she responded. Uh, did you ever ask me first before bringing a dog into my place? "I didn't know what else to do with him." she blurted out as she gazed into his eyes. "How long will he be here?" I firmly asked. Her gaze turned to the floor as she tried to come up with an answer. Well, I think I know where this is going. With her brother's family unable to take care of him with their young children, this was one of very few options available. Oh great, I'm never home on my time off, now what? Who's going to take care of him when nobody's home? Regardless, I had no intentions of trying to find him a different home, or take him to the pound. One of my two roommates—or a friend or neighbor—was always available when I wasn't around.  Thanks to word of mouth and help from the local newspaper, I found a family that was able to care for him while I was off on my cross-country adventure. Less than six months after I started the trail, he was diagnosed with cancer, and his alternative cancer treatment he was undergoing for the last couple months seemed to be working. Shortly thereafter, things started to change. His eating habits were different, and he had to be carried outside to do his business. The next visit to the vet was not good. Although he was never in any pain, his kidneys were starting to shut down, and there was only one option left. Shep was carried out of the back room and into our exam room. We met the vet, with the dreaded needle in hand, and her assistant with a handful of treats as we all said our goodbyes. On March 17, exactly six months after I finished the Trail, Shep went to doggie heaven.

A special thanks goes out to the Van Dernoots who lovingly cared for Shep over the last year, and Dr. Mcgrath and her assistant for the wonderful treatments he had received. Shep, you've touched many families and individuals over the years, and will be dearly missed. We'll all love you Shep!