It’s with a heavy heart that I begin this stage of my memoir blog. I’m opening a box of memories (literally) and opening old wounds. If you’ve ever owned a giant schnauzer and lost him or her to the Rainbow Bridge, then you know exactly how I feel. I’ve always anticipated writing a book or publishing a picture book about Shotz, our first giant, but after losing her five years ago, I just haven’t been able to type the words or sort through photos of her. I’m still not ready, but I feel I owe this section of my memoir to her, since Shotz played such a major role in my life and does to this day—she was the impetus for Bullet in the Darcy McClain series.
When she passed away on June 16, 2009, I did not write a eulogy because I couldn’t stop crying long enough to see what I was typing. Writing about her was like rubbing salt into an open sore, and I’m sure this attempt will be no different, but here goes.
For my German audience, please forgive my bastardization of the German language. Although I am of German descent (one-quarter), and I married a man of German descent (one-half), we have lived in the US for many generations and speak little German. So please accept my apology in advance.
March 7, 1995, dawned cold and gray. By the time we arrived at the Delta freight terminal at the Dallas/Ft. Worth Airport, it had begun to rain—a light rain, but still miserable weather. However, within the hour our new giant would arrive and brighten the dreary day. We named our first giant Mein Schatz (my darling), but my husband Americanized the name and shortened it to Schotze. In my estimation, Schotze sounded too sweet for our hell on wheels, so I dropped the “e” and the “c” and called her Shotz, which was her call name. Her AKC registered name was Skansen’s Southern Belle. Years later I wished I had named her Social Butterfly, for she loved everything and everyone, but not rodents, squirrels, and cats. And she was fearless, a trait that often got her into trouble.
A Delta freight agent showed us to a waiting area and told us to take a seat while he met the inbound flight from San Francisco, which had just landed. But we chose to stand, anxious to get Shotz and take her home. Not long after we arrived at the gate, two other couples joined us. They too had purchased dogs from Skansen Kennels (Sebastopol, California), but pepper-and-salt giants, not black. It felt as if we had waited an hour, but only twenty minutes had passed when all six of us started to pace the room and ask, “What’s going on? Why is this taking so long?”
We had all heard horror stories of dogs being left on the tarmac for hours or breaking free from their kennels and running loose on the runways never to be found, and we all shared our stories, making the wait more difficult. Fifteen minutes later a freight worker wheeled a flatbed cart into the waiting area and unloaded three crates. The first two we peeked into were pepper-and-salt giants, both males and both large, even at four months of age. Shotz was the youngest at three months and five days. The moment I held her in my arms, I knew life would never be the same!