Mr. Levin- I just finished reading your book and am still wiping my tears. Sprite was truly lucky to be a part of your family! Here’s my little story about my German Shepherd mix, Zero:

My dog Zero showed up as a stray a few years ago. Actually, I remember exactly when it happened. I have always been more of a dog person, but growing up I had a black cat whom I also found as a stray. He was my world, my comfort, my ‘guardian’. He was the smartest cat you would ever meet, he knew more commands than most dogs I knew. We had a sort of bond that cannot be put into words, a sort of ‘silent’ communication and I felt we understood one another. I am a photographer, and he was the first subject I photographed when my interest in photography began, he was a wonderful model for me. I had never bonded with an animal in this way. Along with him I grew up with a beagle mix (also a rescue), and as much as I would have wanted it- we just did not connect on that sort of almost psychic level I had with my cat, but she was a lovely, friendly, humorous dog.

When he was nearly twenty (guestimation on age by vet) I knew his time had come and so did he. He was an outdoor cat because of family allergies, and growing up in the country I was constantly outside. He stayed by my side at all times. In the weeks before his death, he was very estranged and would not accompany me anywhere. He just stayed distant and observed, maybe seeing how I could manage without him. On April 4, 2006, I found him peacefully lying down as if he had passed while asleep.

Two months later, Zero shows up- just nine months old. I kept having dreams about finding a big dog, but I did not understand their meaning. I firmly believe my cat ‘sent her my way’ knowing I would help her. She was skinny, a little scared, and had been beaten. She is afraid of shovels, hammers, any type of tool with a handle: which makes me believe this is what she would be hit with by whoever had her before me. We always find lots of strays out here and my friends and I would always find homes for them, but there was something different about her. I knew she was here for ME. Our bond grew strong and quickly, just as strong as the bond with my beloved cat.

She is very loving, high strung, and intelligent. My bond with Zero is like no other. We speak without words. She knows multiple commands, and is also trained in hand signals. Her favorite thing to do is chase squirrels, and play with her squeaker toys.

Rachel from OH