(dog • mom) (n.)
A forever play pal; the best cuddle buddy; a walking companion; best friend.
Barry, an older Bicon/Poodle Mix found his forever play pal in his dog mom, Shelby DeMuth Akin. Shelby Akin is the Director of Marketing at Pleasant Grove ISD in Texarkana, Texas. A member of Junior League, Chi Omega Alumnae, Women for A&M Texarkana, and Williams Memorial Methodist Church, Shelby is married to Kyle Akin and together they share their love for their adopted fur baby, Barry. “Kyle and I adopted Barry in March 2020, from Passion for Pooches. We are both ‘dog people,’ but did not want to take on the responsibilities of training a small puppy. We had been discussing the right time to find a dog and decided to just let it happen. We saw Debbie Brower’s description on Facebook of a three-year-old Bichon/Poodle mix who was house trained, loved to be held, and super sweet. We looked at each other and knew we had to meet him! We texted Debbie on Saturday evening and she responded Sunday morning inviting us over to meet him. She let us bring Barry home for a trial run that afternoon, which turned into a trial sleepover, and he never left. We can’t imagine life without Barry.”
A favorite activity for Shelby and husband Kyle, is to gather with their neighbors and best friends, in their cul-de-sac. Their neighborhood dogs, Darlin and Belle, are a bit larger than Barry and he was aggressive and resistant to play with them in the beginning. However, as the time passed with more visits, Barry has warmed up to them both and seems friendlier towards them. Naturally, this made Shelby feel very proud as a dog mom, almost as if her and her husband had taught Barry social manners. Shelby has enjoyed many additional hours she does not normally have with Barry through the quarantine time related to the COVID-19 virus. She says, “This has been a perfect time for Barry and me to bond. Going back to my office will be a big adjustment for Barry (and me)!”
There is no doubt that Shelby loves her fur baby Barry, but her story does not begin there. Shelby has worked hard, traveled, contributed to her community, and forged solid friendships to last a lifetime. Recently celebrating her own wedding, Shelby describes her happiest moment when she reflects upon that day. “Kyle and I recently got married in Santa Rosa, California, in a vineyard with our immediate family. Having our families together in one of the prettiest parts of the country and marrying my best friend stands out as my happiest memory,” she says. Although the wedding was small with immediate family only, one of her most meaningful gifts ever received also came during this time. Right before Kyle and Shelby left for their wedding in California, Shelby’s three aunts on her father’s side of the family sent her “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.” It was a handkerchief from her late Grandmother DeMuth with a sweet message sewn in blue, and her Grandma DeMuth’s pendant attached. Shelby explains, “I wrapped the handkerchief around my bridal bouquet, so I felt like I had a piece of my late DeMuth grandparents with me on my wedding day.” Shelby’s family was not the only one to surprise her with a sentimental gift. “My close friends wanted a way for me to know they were with me in spirit on my wedding day. My friend, Amelie, started a book of letters from my friends at my bachelorette party so that I had an individual message from all of them to read on my wedding day. Kyle gave it to me the night before our wedding. I felt so loved by my friends on the most special day of my life,” she says.
Sonoma Country, California, definitely holds a special place in Shelby’s heart as her and Kyle exchanged vows in this extraordinary location. The two enjoyed a honeymoon following the wedding in Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai, Hawaii, which became her favorite spots because of the beautiful views, the company of her husband, and the memories she made. However, this does not conclude her list of the best places she has traveled. “I traveled to Italy last Spring with my friend, Amelie, as a fun spring break girls’ trip. We visited Florence, Vienna, and the Amalfi Coast.” Thinking ahead to future travel plans, Shelby wishes to travel with both her mother and her husband. “I’d love to take a few girls trips with my mom to Charleston, The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, and Palm Springs. We need some sun and fun after this quarantine time! Kyle and I will make national and international travel a priority, too, after everything settles down. Italy and England are at the top of our list.”
Shelby is most grateful as she describes her list of blessings, beginning with the first and most important one, “Without God, I know I am nothing. I am very blessed to come from a Christian family and to know and love Jesus.” Shelby continues her list of blessings mentioning her husband, her family and their guidance and leadership in her life, so many good friends, her fur baby, Barry, her freedom and the veterans that deserve praise and admiration for their heroic acts, her city, Texarkana, that fosters growth, education, fine arts, business, and creativity, and her work family, found at Pleasant Grove ISD. “The staff and students make it the best place to work in the state!” In fact, Shelby’s most proud contribution involves her work family. “With the help of Tiffany Beck, Linda Erie, and Deanna Flournoy, Pleasant Grove Middle School started a middle school drill team, the Star Steppers, five years ago, and I was able to co-direct and direct for three years. Between advising the Pleasant Grove Middle School Yearbook and working with the Star Steppers, I am so proud of the students in these organizations, what they produced, and the relationships we formed.”
During Shelby’s college years, she had the honor of interning at L’Oréal in New York. There, her boss told her she was “very tenacious”. Shelby has held onto that compliment and considered her tenacity a strength. Her tenacity, indeed, has led her to being a wonderful dog mom, best friend, wife, and co-worker.
A few thoughts from Barry:
My Mom is: busy, caring, and a little high strung sometimes
I really love it when my Mom: lets me get in her bed and rubs my belly
My favorite thing I love to do with my Mom is: go see my grandmother and her dog, Austin.
My mom always tells me: that I’m a good boy (except those few times I snuck out of the fence).
I love my Mom because: she adopted me from Passion for Pooches when my first family couldn’t keep me – and she feeds me a lot and gives me lots of treats.