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    Posted December 1, 2012 by
    Pinellas Park, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Loving and losing a dog: Your tributes

    Apache (2001-2012)

    We got Apache in 2001, shortly after I was discharged from the Marines. She was a mutt, but that was fine with me. My family has always owned dogs, so our home had felt empty without any around. My sister got a puppy and brought her by my work with my wife and together they tried to sell me to get one of the puppies siblings. The next day, we went to the house with the pups and we selected the runt of the group.

    Apache grew into our family almost immediately. She was always loving and caring, and as we had more children, she was always protective of them. If they were sick, she would lay in bed with them. She had a lot of human personality, wanting to be near you when you were home, coming to stare at you when you were upset, and wagging her tail to make you feel better. She was a friend, a protector, and a member of our family.

    Between my sister, my mother and myself, there are somewhere around 9 to 15 dogs at any given time. We only had Apache. She enjoyed visiting her sister at my mothers house and she was very friendly towards other animals. She especially loved horses and my mother's miniature donkeys. She would run along side them as the kids rode the horses, always careful not to scare them, but always close by.

    But as she got older, she slowed down and wasn't as active, but she was still full of personality. She slept on our bed, on our couch and loved to go for a ride. She sat next to the kids as they did their homework or played. But she was always there. And when she looked at you, you would feel like she was telling you something, there was an intelligence in her eyes.

    This spring, she suddenly got sick. She had stopped eating and was very lethargic. We took her to the vet and they advised that her kidneys were shutting down. After a week, we decided that she couldn't suffer anymore and we asked the vet to end her pain.

    We miss our friend, and we still have many pictures to share with others about how good a dog she was. The year before we had taken her camping for the first time and she loved it. With no leash or zip line, she free ran the campsite and never wandered off. She followed the us through the woods, and she slept near the fire as we sat enjoying the night time air. I wish we had taken her sooner.
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