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    Posted November 29, 2012 by
    Logansport, Indiana
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Loving and losing a dog: Your tributes

    She looked after us, always


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     shidey17 says her dog Lady was 'in a lively mood' the night this photo was taken. 'I don't recall exactly why the newspaper was on the floor in front of her, but she allowed me to place my glasses on the bridge of her nose. She even sat still long enough for me to grab a coffee cup to finish out the pose!'
    - katie, CNN iReport producer

    Lady had always been a special dog. Calm, kind, and intuitive, she impacted our family before we even knew she existed. An only child, I had always wanted a dog, but by the time I reached my 14th birthday without one, I figured it was never going to happen. Then, miraculously, my mother came home one evening proclaiming that we were getting a dog! A White German Shepherd no less!

    She had dropped by my parents' accountant's home to drop off some paperwork, and she saw the puppies, fluffy white balls of fur, only days old, cuddled with their mother in their makeshift home, a child's plastic swimming pool. My parents' accountant, Terry, raised White Shepherd puppies as a hobby, and the puppies were known for stealing hearts.

    I was ecstatic when I heard the news. Over a decade of begging and still no results, yet one look from this chubby little creature and my mother was smitten. We picked her up a few weeks later when she was old enough to leave her mother, and the rest is history.

    That charming puppy grew up to be a regal adult. Her manners were impeccable. She never made a mess in the house, and we knew she would protect our lives at the cost of her own. She was the subject of conversation wherever we went. She could literally stop traffic with her size and beauty.

    True to her name, Lady was loving and polite and made a great sibling for an only child who needed a partner on her adventures. We often played soccer until dusk in the huge yard out back, and when I tired, she would help my father mow the lawn. She knew just how close she could get to his garden tractor, and he would lean down to pick up a stick for her to fetch. She was constantly at our service, a consummate representative of her breed. Her intuition told her when it was time to put the stick down, though, to lay her head in someone's lap, to console, to take away pain or stress.

    Although after years of pain of her own, arthritis and hip dysplasia, we knew the time would be coming soon, and we would have to say goodbye. We noticed a sadness in her eyes, a slowing, and though a huge void would be left, we wished for her to find the peace and calm she had brought to us.

    She had seen me through many milestones: high school graduation, college, falling in love, facing heartbreak, and she had always been there. I didn't make it home as often as I wanted to see her, but when I did, she always greeted me lovingly. By an odd twist of fate, I had just accepted a new job in a new city and had to stay with my parents for a few months after subleasing my apartment. Eleven years after we brought her home, and Lady and I were back together again – me in my old bedroom, her in the hall right outside my door, standing guard over all of us. Only this time, standing guard meant watching with one eye open between labored breaths.

    One summer morning, my father woke me early and told me to come downstairs. It was time, he said, time to say goodbye. As my old friend took her last few breaths, I looked into her eyes, told her how much I loved her, and that everything would be okay. The last part wasn't true, of course, but after all she had given me over the years, the least I could do was give her a tiny bit of peace and comfort. My loyal and true friend and protector had waited for me to come home, for our family to be whole again, before she took her final breaths. And only nights before, she had allowed us to take the picture you see above, where she transformed her tired, sad eyes into shiny, animated ones. You see, even when she was barely able, she made it her first priority to look after us. We will never forget her kindness, her gentle protection. We will always remember Lady.
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