My husband and I were taking a walk one summer night in our former hometown of City Island, NY. We were passing by a person’s yard when we spotted 2 German Shepherds. Their owner happened to be outside in the yard. At the same time, my husband and I happened to be discussing the possibility of getting a dog. Being fond of Shepherds, my husband struck up a conversation with the owner who told us that he had some 9 week-old pups in the garage. We took a female home and named her Lana (italian for “wool”).

Lana turned out to be one of the greatest companions I ever had. She went with us wherever we went. She was such a good canine citizen because she had such a calm and regal disposition, and she was welcomed everywhere we went. She was great with children and was an excellent babysitter. There was a house across the street that had been vacated by some tenants who owned two cats and a dog. They took the dog and left the cats. I grabbed a ladder and pried a window open to let the cats out. I put Lana in the yard where she kept a watchful eye on them until the ASPCA could get them. When one would wander, she’d shepherd it back to the patch of grass she was laying on. Luckily, the cats were used to a dog. She accepted their purring and petting with calm aloofness.

My favorite time with her was walking in the woods or on the beach. She never needed a leash. I would just keep walking and she’d either run ahead or lag behind to later catch up with me…I got a ticket from the Dept of Parks because of not having her leashed on the beach on a cold, blustery February morning. Mind you, we were the only beings there. Fun Times.

March 19th this year will mark the 2nd year since we had to put her down. My husband came home to find her lying on the floor unable to get up. Her gums were white: a sign of internal bleeding. He rushed her to the vet where they fluid-resuscitated her, but she collapsed as soon as they brought her out. Since they didn’t have the means to treat her, my husband rushed her to an emergency clinic in Bedford, NY. I was at work at the time in NYC. I dropped everything and left. She hung on until I got there. Their differential diagnosis was hemangiosarcoma. She was bleeding from her liver. I knew it was hopeless, and the vet confirmed my feelings.

We have since adopted another shepherd whom we love very much, but the pain of losing Lana is still fresh. Each one is so very special in their unique way. Thanks for the chance to express my feelings. It is such a catharsis for me. And thanks for “Rescuing Sprite.” It is such a comfort to know that we do not suffer alone.

– Marisa from Ridgefield, CT