Celebrating our magazine’s tenth anniversary…
and grieving the devastating loss of our beloved dog who inspired it all
An open letter from our publisher, as published on page 7 of our April/May 2016 issue of Nashville Paw magazine.
BY HEATHER DOWDY
I’m not usually one short on words, but on the eve of our ten-year anniversary issue, I have sat down at my computer at least a dozen times to try to put my heart into words—and at least a dozen times, the blank screen has stared ominously back. I am now a day past deadline and, ready or not, the words must come.
How do I begin to summarize the magnitude of emotions welling up within my soul? To somehow tell an entire community “thank you” for supporting me as I grabbed hold of a wild dream and took off running, sailing it behind me like a kite and hoping like mad that it would somehow catch wind? How to possibly put into language the immense gratitude I feel for every individual that stood down on the ground with an industrial-sized fan, hoisting that kite higher and higher into the air until it was soaring, high enough for its message to be clearly seen and understood—to truly make a difference. It is hard for me to find adequate words to express my appreciation to every advertiser who has made this free magazine and our community events possible; to every contributor who pours his or her heart, time and talents into making sure that the design, the photography and the writing is continually raising the bar for what a labor-of-love grassroots magazine can truly be; to each dedicated soul who loads up bundles of this magazine issue after issue and delivers it across five counties; to every volunteer who makes our community events a reality; to every subscriber who has helped us pay the printing bill; to every reader who has shared a copy with a friend; to every community member who has supported us through thick and thin and has helped us to become who we are today.
The words “thank you” do not seem nearly adequate for carrying this magazine through ten years, when others before me did not even make it to one. I am keenly aware of how fortunate I am, and I know it’s because this amazingly compassionate community has rallied for this publication since day one—and has helped me grow a small newsprint paper into a magazine serving more than 50,000 pet lovers each issue. No, “thank you” does not come close to what I want to say, but it’s all I have. So, thank you. Thank you for allowing me to do this work for ten immensely beautiful, difficult and incredible years and for supporting this mission to make life better for the animal members of our community.
Words also fail me in attempt to describe the crippling grief in my heart at the sudden loss of our sweet Shelby, who died at two in the morning on the 8th of February, after blessing us with more than thirteen years of unconditional friendship, love and loyalty. He was and always will be the inspiration behind this magazine endeavor—the reason I have pushed on against so many obstacles. This magazine is his legacy, as are the hearts he touched with his presence and which will never be the same. My tears flow in abundance in his absence, but in the midst of this pain, we have also found comfort. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the outpouring of love and support this community has shown us in the days following Shelby’s death. Thank you for allowing us and helping us to grieve our dearest animal companion within our online community; for embracing my endless stream of photos and memories; for sending handmade commemorative art and cards and care packages; for lending beautiful words of comfort and for sharing your own stories of love and loss. You have given us a priceless, healing gift and for that I am eternally grateful. All of us who invite animal companions into our lives and our hearts are doomed to know this most deeply felt, excruciating loss—and yet, it seems such a small price to pay for the immeasurable joy, love and laughter they bring into our lives, if only for a short time.
And so, this issue is for Shelboo—the most goofy, intelligent, hilarious, loving and loyal companion I have ever had the honor of sharing my heart with. It is for my husband, Chris, and our family and friends—for supporting, encouraging and believing in me. And this issue is also for you—for being the wind in our sails.
It’s not enough, but it’s what I have: thank you.
For the Animals,