by Samantha Williams
Fourteen years ago my dad was just getting into duck hunting and decided he needed a dog to retrieve the ducks. After talking it over with the family we all decided we wanted one too…but it had to be able to stay in the house. Dad wandered into Beaverdam Kennels one afternoon and found they had a litter of Labrador Retriever puppies. He took us back later that day and we picked out a yellow female.
After bringing home our new puppy we went right to work naming her – though after a week of passing different names around we were still undecided. We loved our new puppy, but boy did she have some really sharp teeth! She looked like a shark coming out of the water to attack! Since we were searching for a name that matched her personality, the only name that seemed to fit was Sharkey…but we couldn’t name a girl dog Sharkey! At the time I was in kindergarten and Sloan was in the third grade and after multiple episodes of us suddenly running out of our rooms screaming, crying, and bleeding…girl dog or not, Sharkey was her name! We knew she wasn’t trying to hurt us, she just liked chewing on things – that was her way of playing!
When Sharkey was about six months old we took her back to Beaverdam for training. Sharkey was our only dog at the time and we missed her while she was gone (we had finally tamed the “shark attacks”). Once she reached a certain point in her training we were able to go visit and train with her, learning how to make sure she listened to all of us when she came home. Weekend trips home after she reached another level of her training was something we always looked forward too!
Since Sharkey was our first hunting dog and inside dog, we really had no clue what we were doing…and Sharkey knew that! We had a tendency to let her get away with things that caused her to be a little more difficult in training. As her training progressed we decided it would be fun to start running hunt tests with her. I guess that was when we really started to get addicted to the hunting dog world. Eventually Sloan and I grew tired of watching from the sidelines and wanted to start running her in the hunt tests ourselves. And that is exactly what we did! We started traveling almost every weekend during the Spring and Fall…the hunt tests and Sharkey took us all over the place.
In 2002 mom, dad, Sloan, myself and our good buddy Dale went on a hunting trip to Kansas. While we were out there, the guide and lodge owner, Les Miller had a really cool dog named Willie. When Sharkey came into heat we wanted to breed them. So after some special vet testing to determine the peak time for mating, we all left out early on a Friday morning headed to Kansas with Sharkey, two puppies, and an English Setter. After a whirlwind romance between Sharkey and Willie we left out early that Sunday morning heading home(two puppies and and English Setter lighter…but hopefully with a litter of love) and Sloan and I were in school on Monday! This trip was dubbed the “nightmare on wheels”…we were loaded with dogs and driven with a mission of love!
Sloan was now ready for her own dog and mom and dad said she could keep one from Sharkey’s litter. When the puppies were born she chose a yellow female and had no trouble coming up with her name. She named her Kansas (since she was conceived in Kansas) and gave her the registered name of “Sharkey’s Nightmare on Wheels”. It only seemed fitting because that was definitely a miserable trip for everyone involved!
Now that Sloan had her own dog going through the same training process we went through with Sharkey, I felt it was time for me to have my own dog too. It was either time to add a third dog to the family and go through the puppy stage again…or give Sharkey to me. I ended up with Sharkey! Sloan and I were at the beginning of our career and we didn’t even know it!
Basically this was just a little background history on how Sharkey came in and changed our lives forever and piqued our interest in dog training.
Sharkey was one of a kind! She could be very stubborn at times, and she had this thing that she did at hunt tests to make anyone that was running her look like a fool…she would ignore you! It’s funny thinking back on all of that now, but at the time it was down right infuriating. Sharkey did what she needed to do to teach us patience and that not everything in life comes easy.
Most people would probably say that everything that happened over the last fourteen years, as well as the last few days, of Sharkey’s life was a coincidence. But we don’t believe that! God is the only answer! He had a plan for Sharkey to come into our lives and to change everything. We have met so many amazing people on this journey because of her. We now have our own kennel training dogs for other people and so much more! It’s crazy that one dog could have been used to start so much in our lives!
Now to the past week or so of Sharkey’s life…
Sharkey had been going down hill for the past year and was gradually getting worse. She would have good days and then bad days. We all knew that she just wouldn’t be around for much longer. I had been praying for that last week or so that I would not have to make the decision that no one wants to make…but that God would make it for me when the time was right. That He would take care of Sharkey and not let her suffer.
Well that Saturday morning Sharkey was having a good day. She ate all of her breakfast, was getting around good, and she was happy! I had planning to make a copy of her paw print and the other dogs paw prints to hang on the wall – so that morning I went to get the stuff to do it and came back. At that point Sharkey was still having a good day. A little while later mom and I left to go up the road for about 15 minutes to an antique store that was closing down. Shortly after we got there dad called to tell us that Sharkey wasn’t doing well and we needed to come home. We immediately jumped in the car…but before we made it back Sharkey was gone. God had made the decision he knew I wasn’t able to make.
That Saturday was a very emotional day for a lot of people – everybody loved Sharkey. We buried her beside the kennel that evening and she had quite a crowd there! It is peaceful knowing she is no longer in pain! For days following we all laughed and cried together and repeated all of our Sharkey stories!
She was special to so many people, and retrieved quite a few first ducks for our friends!
Several years ago Sharkey was playing in the yard and broke her toe. Her leg had to go in a soft cast for a few weeks – but she loved the extra attention! You would not believe all the people that signed her cast!
At church the Sunday morning following her passing, the preacher just so happened to incorporate pets (mainly dogs) into the message and how special they are to us. It was INCREDIBLE! Some of our friends came over later that day to watch the Super Bowl and one of Sharkeys best buddies, Kevin, came in wearing a yellow ribbon for Sharkey. We told Sharkey stories all evening and laughed and cried together. She was a part of our family and because of her we have made a ton of friends, own a kennel, and have experienced how amazing God is!
To Sharkey…thanks for being a part of our lives for fourteen years. Thanks for all of the memories, laughter, and tears! We know you and Bogey are retrieving ducks in Heaven now. Love you forever girl!