Shadow Stassa

Pet Love!

Shadow Mjh

All photos in this article © 2019 Mary Lou Johnson

The best words to describe Shadow are happy, ebullient, and ready for the next adventure. These words could also describe Rochelle and George Stassa, the other important members of his family.

George and Rochelle had been without a dog for many years. They were empty nesters with travels and fun things they wanted to do. Committing to take on a new puppy seemed like a crazy thing to do, and yet, they kept talking about it. They decided to take the plunge.

Having had a poodle earlier, they wanted the intelligence of that breed, plus the friendliness and cheerfulness of a golden retriever. They inquired around and found a breeder who could fill the bill. They met Shadow's father, a phantom (referring to a poodle with a black background but white markings) poodle. He could not have been more intelligent, sweet, and laid back, so they decided to take one of his puppies.

Shadow arrived as a  bundle of shiny black fur and great potential. He is now just under two years of age.

Rochelle and George approached the new project as if he were a new baby and they read the equivalent baby book for puppies of Dr. Spock. They learned to keep Shadow confined to a relatively small space (in this case the kitchen) and watch him closely so as to let him out before he had an accident. Almost immediately, he would make a sound or walk towards the door if he needed to go out. They responded immediately, and the next step was that he would run to the door and paw it. Of course, it is a question of whether we train our dogs or they train us, but either way, it works!

Some dogs are totally food motivated and you can train them by giving a command and rewarding with a treat. Shadow is what is known as a grazing dog. His food is put out in the morning, and again in late afternoon. He eats whatever he feels he needs and never over eats (In my next life I hope to inherit the gene for this!).

He has a big comfortable dog bed in the family room with a toy box next to it. He enjoys rummaging through it with his paws and selecting which toy he wants to play with at the moment. The Stassas have worked with a very good trainer here named Dianne Thompson. She comes to their house and has had great results.

At one point, she temperament tested Shadow. It turned out that he could be a very successful service dog ... not a seeing eye dog, but one who would be available and helpful to a person who needed emotional support. He could go to hospitals to visit, bringing comfort and goodwill. At this point, he is providing all this love to Rochelle and George! Whether he goes on to the next step is unknown.

If this dog sounds too perfect, he did do one very naughty (and annoying ) thing. One day when coming home from a walk, the garage door was left open, the house door was open, and somehow he just took off. As George described it, it was a Jailbreak.   After much chasing, calling to no avail, and I am hesitant to mention it,  but am sure, a few salty words, Shadow finally was shanghaied and returned to his wonderful home, which he had only meant to leave on a short joyous and momentarily renegade journey.

The Stassas are a very enjoyable couple, great additions to Bay Isles, with their exceptional (but still progressing teenage) lovable dog, Shadow.


About Ann B Anderson

I am the luckiest journalist you can imagine. My assignments include interviewing endearing Bay Isles pets and at the same time getting to know their interesting and fun human family members.I have been entranced by animals and birds ever since I was a little girl. I remember going to help choose our first family dog, a Cocker spaniel named Cinder. I used to dress her up in doll clothes and push her around in a buggy. She was very tolerant.I grew up in Minnesota where I met my husband, Steve, at the University of Minnesota. We were married shortly after graduation. He started out selling pharmaceuticals but eventually started his own biomedical company. It went on the NY stock exchange as CRY. I give you this short summary because it helps to explain why we moved around a lot.....from Minnesota, to Wisconsin, back to Minnesota, Florida, Texas, Florida, Atlanta, GA., until finally making it back to Longboat Key. ( paradise )My beloved dogs and birds have always been great emotional support and a steady presence through our many moves. We got interested in showing Boxer dogs, seriously so, once our two children were a little older. As a result of this hobby we have met many other dog lovers along the way. We continue today, currently showing a beautiful male called CH. Rummer Run's Commander in Chief. We hope to take him to Westminster in February.During the time we were in St. Pete we screened off a large portion of our lanai. I added plants, a small tree, some little wicker nests, and about a dozen beautiful canaries They laid eggs, raised their babies, and sang from morning to night. It was really relaxing to watch and listen to them while sitting out there. An engrossing interest during the past 10 years has been co-founding and serving on the Board of Save Our Seabirds.The main things I like to do are read, write, think, and be with friends. I am passionate about protecting species and their habitats, finding ways to counter global warming, and most of all, encouraging respect and kindness towards all other living things with whom we share this earth.

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