Shadow was sick before I even left for San Diego…
I was going to post a new piece about just why I don’t read science fiction comics, but the devastating news that he likely had cancer kept me from finishing it. He stopped eating his food, which really was nothing new, but we knew something was wrong after he stopped eating all the good stuff---his treats, bacon, chicken and rice, etc. Got him to the vet and after the initial exam and some x-rays they thought cancer, but a couple days later the ultrasound (allegedly more conclusive) showed no definitive signs. Initially relieved, this new diagnosis would see him on medication the rest of his life, which sounded like a great deal in comparison. He appeared to be getting better leading up to SDCC, which I was extremely nervous about, imagining that things would turn for the worse and my girl would be left to handle it all by herself…which is exactly what happened.
Was actually prepping to leave San Diego on Thursday night or Friday morning but she ultimately stopped me. Still, my last couple days there dragged on forever and I was so glad to eventually leave the place. Felt like a good show but I was only half there, walking the floor and checking in with folks on autopilot. I’d wanted to log daily con reports on my just completed personal website, but didn’t feel up to it, even if my laptop hadn’t died at the airport just before I left. This again, is exactly what happened. It was just one of those weeks where it all goes bad, and was followed by this one that started with me getting home late Sunday evening and not even a day later having to put Shadow to sleep. The first diagnosis was correct, cancer somewhere in his stomach, which made it impossible to remove. Just a horrible, gut-wrenching experience and something I feel the need to write about in this very public place.
Because this wasn’t just any Aus. Shepherd mix, and I mean this next bit in all seriousness---this dog literally helped change my life.
Flashback to January 2007 and I was in a completely different place. After years of passionately stubborn resistance, I’d gone out and found a fairly ordinary day job, after learning the hard way that my dreams of imminent comics stardom (or you know, even quasi-stardom) were distant, unpredictable things that were anything but imminent. I was taking an extended hiatus from my column so I wouldn’t have to talk about any of this in public, and wasn’t missing comics in the slightest, least not as an aspiring professional. And I was angry---I was so ____’in angry about the situation and possibly more than that, at my best friend in the entire world that I felt had recently shot arrows into my back after the worst year of my life. In short, I was a complete mess.
Then, through this job that I didn’t want to get…I met this girl. You probably know how the story turns from there, and even I would consider it overly dramatic if it wasn’t entirely true. The difference in my life was just obvious and immediate---the more time I spent around her, the better everything about me got. Miranda officially got signed, I started writing again, got the Robin fill-in after doing the Year Wonder pitch, returned to the column, etc. And mind you, these are only the “professional” related things, which don’t even begin to cover all the other little stupid, self-destructive crap I’d made a living from doing. But before I got anywhere near the girl, I had to pass the “Shadow Test,” a living, breathing bull___ detector that actually bit the last dude she went out with. Which was pretty unbelievable to hear, because as much as she is the Greatest Girl Ever, he was the Greatest Dog Ever, and I’ll probably want a dog the rest of my life because of him. In his own way, he said, “I approve of this dude,” and nothing about my life has been the same ever since.
It’s only right I say thank you for that, and for him having the strength to hold on until I could get home from San Diego. I should be surprised, but really, stuff like that was just like him…
Thanks for listening and back soon.