Maggie was an extraordinary dog. From the time I got her when she was 7 weeks old and I was 11 years old, we were the absolute best of friends. She was, in every way, my baby. We were inseparable, and when I was with her, I was home. While most of my friends growing up experienced little in the way of true responsibility, I was responsible for every aspect of her care. I was responsible when she didn't act quite right and it turned out she need a life-saving operation. I was responsible for managing her veterinary care. She was a wonderful family pet as I grew up, but she and everyone else always knew that she was my dog, my pal, and my baby. When I went to college out of state, my sadness at leaving her for such long stretches of time motivated me to graduate in 3 years. After college, we settled back into our routines, and I enjoyed the journey with her into her golden years. This summer, after I got back from a weeklong trip visiting a college friend, she began a sharp decline. Mercifully, it was a very quick decline as her body gave out on her. While her sweetness and love never failed, my heart broke beyond comprehension as I watched life get harder and harder for her. Finally, as the summer wound down and I prepared to return to my job as a teacher, the time came for me to, again, make a responsible decision for my sweet girl. It was without question the worst day of my entire life. The companionship, unconditional love, joy, and enduring trust Maggie gave to me taught me how to grow up. She helped me survive the turmoil of adolescence and the transition to adulthood. She waited by the window when I left for high school, college, and work as a teacher. Now she's waiting for me in heaven and I miss her every day.