This is my (my family’s) story about Shea; not the stadium that I witnessed many Mets and Jets games in as well as concerts such as the Rolling Stones…no, this is about a Yellow Labrador Retriever, who derived her name from that very stadium.

“Shea Maggie Torromeo”

On Monday, September 12th, 2022 we put Shea down after she struggled with tumors and back leg issues. She was a week and a day shy of her 13th birthday. She has left a tremendous void in our lives, but I hope this little tribute gives you an idea of why I and my family felt that she was a very special animal.

You know the day you pick her up that this day is coming. If all things play out the way “they should,” this animal will predecease you and you will be heavily grieved. You know it’s not the same as losing a loved one or friend, but at the end of the day, it still hurts.

13 years…

A confidant…

A friend…

A sounding board…

Through Super Storms, extended power outages, etc. she was a constant. Solid through and through–good news, bad news, world news, or local news, she just took it all in stride—she was the constant in our lives. She was with us through high school and college graduations, devastating football injuries, pulled wisdom teeth, blocked arteries, the death of too many family members, and even got us through a freaking once-in-a-lifetime (God willing) pandemic.

Those are the basic stats…through thick and thin, through many of life‘s turmoil, celebrations, and achievements she was there. As with anything, you can argue that Shea was not the GOAT (the greatest of all time) dog such as in my opinion Tom Brady is not the GOAT for NFL quarterbacks!

It all started with a picture.

My colleague at Manhattanville College, Dr. Don Richards sent me an email and said his friend in Vermont had some yellow labs that he was selling. I saw her beautiful face and thought, “I have to have her.” So, I forwarded the picture to my wife, and after many years of not wanting to own a dog, (due to the fact that we both worked, kids, sports, events etc. and not wanting to spoil a creature’s life), she said “OK” and we decided to move forward.

She was in Vermont. I called the owner and said, “I want the one that’s in the picture.” She was supposedly the runt of the litter, but that fact was never proven especially over the years as my little runt became bigger and bigger.

It was Sunday, November 22, 2009. I remember the date because Stephanie’s birthday was that Wednesday the 25th; she was then a freshman at New Canaan High School.

I told the kids I was going on a business trip and left that Sunday to go to Vermont. I stayed in a hotel overnight and got up early the next morning and drove the rest of the way towards Middlebury College. There were two dogs left in the pen and I picked her out as soon as I drove into the driveway. I could hear her mother barking in the house, protesting, as if saying, “leave my baby alone!”

Again, she was beautiful. I put her in the car, but the box I had was of no interest, so I just let her loose in the front seat. She was antsy to get back to the pen where she had spent the first six weeks of her life; she was not happy. She was scared. Who could blame her?

Frankly, I don’t think she was enthralled about being traded away to some guy who drove in and picked her up in exchange for green paper! We made our way back home to New Canaan, CT stopping in Northampton, MA at a Burger King, and I ordered myself a burger and a plain burger as well. As soon as I pulled up to the window the young lady knew exactly why I had ordered the plain burger as she could see the puppy. I gave it to her in pieces as I ate mine, and I could sense the tide had turned as if she was realizing, “maybe this isn’t such a bad deal after all!” Kind of like in the movie, “Trading Places” when Eddie Murphy is in the backseat with the Dukes and says, “I believe I can hang with you fellas for a while.”

So as Humphrey Bogart said, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” (I like TV, OK!) And so begins the story of Shea Torromeo!

She was named “Blue” for her blue-collar, an obvious way to distinguish the puppies—smart, right? Blue settled down in the front seat and took a nap and I didn’t know how often she would have to go, so I figured I’d stop along the highway, but I didn’t have a leash and my fear was I would lose her running out into the highway or into the woods, but she was very compliant.

It took us about a week to name her. We were tossing about names such as Molly, Maggie, and others. I guess Maggie must’ve finished second because Jarrett often referred to her as, “Shea Maggie!” As noted, she was named for Shea Stadium, which was named for William Shea who brought National League baseball back to New York in the form of the Mets. The Mets are actually a derivative of the Dodgers and Giants who left New York to go to California.

Why so much angst and emotion over a simple animal you might ask yourself? There are bigger tragedies in the world you might say and we have lost family members, friends, and colleagues in the last several years. We mourn in different ways. Just as we love in different ways. Agape is the love of God which is really impossible to understand meaning it is the “highest form of love.” We have a love for family, friends, and even for things like teams or possessions (not good!). So, a love for a dog might have its own separate category.

We can debate all of the above, but there are two hard and incontrovertible facts; we loved Shea and she loved us! But enough about that trivia! Let’s talk about the real hero; the best dog to ever live.

So…why was she the best dog?

Did she know tricks? No!

Did she save any lives like Lassie? Nope.

Did she bring anything to the table other than the fact of what was on the table that she wanted to eat? Niet.

But at the end of the day, it’s subjective, so my opinion is she was the best dog that’s ever lived and after almost 13 years, a piece of our lives, of our very family is no longer with us. Not to sound maudlin, because some people would think, “well it’s just a dog.“ But I beg to differ!

As even-keeled as any creature on the planet, she was never overly impressed with what you had to share whether it was knowledge of football or life in general. Nor was she ever at a loss of appetite not only for her own food but everything that you had as well. Thirteen years and I saw her grit her teeth, but once… and that was when she was on a leash and being attacked by a dog who ran out of its yard. She couldn’t hurt a fly and in fact, ignored my direct commands to kill one!

She never got a chance to celebrate a championship with us (Mets, Jets, Islanders Knicks) unless you count her mom (Laurie’s) Patriots, which I rather think she endured rather than enjoyed. With a name like Shea, she knew where her loyalties were bound.

I can’t take you through all of her life, or our experiences with her, just know we are better for having her for the last 13 years almost and we tried to give her a great life, God knows she gave us every reason to believe she helped us in every way.

In closing, the  following are lyrics to an innocuous ’70’s song by Michael Johnson, called “Bluer than Blue:”

Many of these apply to our losing Shea:

After you go, I can catch up on my reading
After you go, I’ll have a lot more time for sleeping
And when you’re gone, looks like things are gonna be a lot easier
Life will be a breeze, you know
I really should be glad
But I’m bluer than blue, sadder than sad
You’re the only light this empty room has ever had
And life without you is gonna be
Bluer than blue

After you go, I’ll have a lot more room in my closet
After you go, I’ll stay out all night long if I feel like it
And when you’re gone I can run through the house screaming
And no one will ever hear me
I really should be glad
But I’m bluer than blue, sadder than sad
You’re the only light this empty room has ever had
And life without you is gonna be
Bluer than blue

I don’t have to miss no TV show
I can start my whole life over
Change the numbers on my telephone
But the nights will sure be colder
And I’m bluer than blue, sadder than sad
You’re the only light this empty room has ever had

And life without you is gonna be
Bluer than blue
Bluer than blue

Farewell, Blue/Shea

A boy (Jarrett) and his dog
The first glimpse…she’s the one, had to have her!!!


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