The Story of Shakespeare

Shakespeare was a cocker spaniel who jumped into his new mommy's arms from a pet shop counter in Harlem three days before Christmas. 

He became a constant companion as he walked the streets of New York with his family. He spent countless hours in Central Park on weekends. He was allowed to attend dance classes in the evenings, and he even rode the streets of the city in a little red wagon as he got too old to walk very much.

In November of 2003, he became very ill, and nothing the vet could do seemed to help. In desperation, his family took him to a large medical facility where they did extensive testing including an MRI, before finding there was nothing left to do. The medical bills were expensive, but his family would have done anything, borrowed from anywhere, to help him recover.

A letter from Shakespeare’s family…

“When he died on November 14, 2003, my heart was forever broken at his loss. To honor his memory I began the Shakespeare Animal Fund, in hopes that many others who love their animal companions as much as I loved Shakespeare, but perhaps can't afford to pay for an unexpected illness or any other medical expense, can be helped. This is my tribute to my dear and beloved friend, Shakespeare.”

Jennifer Webb, Shakespeare's Mom

Founder of Shakespeare Animal Fund 


A Poem To Shakespeare

September 28, 1988-November 14, 2003

What a long way we've traveled together,
from a pet shop window where you torpedoed
your small body toward my open arms,
to the tired old man unconscious in the OR.

We talked though, while you still knew I was at your side,
too frightened, I worked hard on promising you it was OK.
Leave if you must, I said,
Stroking your fur, looking at the tubes keeping you comfortable.

You raised your head slightly
and licked my nose.
I can live without you, I lied,
crying as silently as I could into your fur.

I counted blessings,
years of autumn days in Central Park.
Your puppyhood, then your manhood
retrieving millions of tennis balls in scummy water.

Falling over cliffs and walking New York sidewalks,
sharing dance classes, Tastee Delights and wagon rides,
comforting each other in our new home,
exploring new places, always together.

They took you to the Rainbow Room for our final goodbye.
I cut your hair for my locket,
and inhaled the fragrance of your fur
to store for many future days.

I looked at every part of your tired old body
and thought how very beautiful you were.
What a life we shared,
what memories of love I'll tuck away forever.