Pets and Their People: Sheba and Richard Monroe

Sheba enjoys some quality time at the Montpelier Train Station with her new best friend, Richard Monroe.

“I said my hardest goodbye on July 25,” admitted Richard Monroe, sitting in his cool, dimly lit office on the second floor of the Montpelier train station on Route 20. He and his beloved black lab, Girl, had been virtually inseparable at home and at work for the past seven years, ever since she showed up on his porch in the midst of a bad storm. When he had her put down, he estimates she was between 13 and 15 years old. After grieving for a few weeks, the ITTS (tech support) manager at James Madison’s Montpelier decided to make the rounds of the local animal shelters. His wife, Debbie Smith Monroe, and the rest of his family were all for it; his young granddaughters had expressed concern about him being “all alone” at work. At the Charlottesville Albemarle SPCA, a small black dog came to the front of her cage each time Monroe walked by. She calmed gazed at him and then retreated to her bed at the back of her cage when he kept walking. After five times, he knew he’d been chosen. Although he’d been looking for a full-grown dog, the lab mix he named Sheba is only 7 or 8 months old. As luck would have it, she’s darned near perfect: “She is polite. She’s got the manners of a lab, the energy of a puppy,” Monroe said as Sheba allowed a visitor to pet her on the head. He added, “She’s full of love, just like Girl was. She’s happy. She reminds me a lot of Girl. I swear that dog sent her to me.” 

Hilary Holladay covers education and politics for the Orange County Review. The author of five books, she is currently writing a biography of the poet Adrienne Rich.

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