On the evening of December 6, 2010, my sweet dog Amber, my pit bull and best friend for 10 years, went to sleep for the last time. She was diagnosed last January with mast cell tumors (a form of cancer) around her tail. Because of the location, the tumors were inoperable. The vet at that time gave her five or six months to live. But we tried all kinds of treatments, some experimental, some found on the internet, to try to buy her more time, and apparently we were somewhat successful. But her quality of life began to suffer in the last several weeks especially, and it got to where she could not support herself on her rear legs and had trouble eliminating. We rigged a sling for her and would walk her out in the yard to ‘do her business’ but over time, even that wasn’t working. On Sunday, we made the incredibly difficult and painful decision to let her go, since it was obvious that she was not a happy dog any longer and we were really just being selfish, trying to postpone the inevitable for our sakes.

Everyone who met Amber, or Amber Lynn Dawg as I called her sometimes, loved her. She was the sweetest and most loving dog I have ever known. I rescued Amber when I lived in Georgia after she had somehow managed to free herself from people who had abused her and used her to breed pit bull puppies for fighting. When I found her, she had every kind of worm imaginable including Stage IV heart worms and was near death; in fact, the first vet we took her to in Atlanta said she would die within a month and so there was no need to try to save her. But something inside me would not let me accept that as her final sentence and so I took her to another vet where I lived, who was willing to try a radical treatment for the heart worms in order to save her. The treatment took three long months during which time she was confined to a crate only big enough for her to fit into, and she had to be carried outside to eliminate and then placed right back in her crate. But her fighting spirit saw her through and she came out of it healthy and worm free.

Over the ten or so years that followed, she was my constant companion and a source of great comfort to me when things were difficult. She helped me through a rough divorce and moving back to Texas, changing jobs and all number of things. Her bright disposition and determination never faltered, even when we had to have surgery on both her back legs because of arthritis – she soldiered through it all. She was a neighborhood favorite here at the house and many days she would happily sit in “Amber’s Corner” (a special place at the corner of the backyard fence where she could watch the the world go by) and the neighbors would always stop on their walks to visit with her and often bring her treats. People asked after her welfare more than they asked about mine! She never met a person she didn’t like and was totally worthless as a watchdog, but a sweeter animal you’d never meet. She loved being a ‘sun dog’, laying in the back yard, chewing on her rawhide bones and occasionally grasping one in her teeth and prancing around the yard with her funny galloping run like she was holding a massive cigar.

After all we had been through together, and after all the struggle for almost a year to beat her cancer, it was a very hard decision for us – possibly one of the most difficult of my life – to let her go. But it was obvious she would never improve and her recent days had become little more than trying to sleep comfortably and then putting up with us dragging her around the yard. It was no way for such a noble, loving companion to live out her remaining time. We spent the day with her, loving her, giving her treats and hopefully making her feel loved. During the afternoon as I sat with her on the living room floor, she looked up at me with those soulful brown eyes as if to say, “It’s OK, Daddy. I’m ready.” When the final moment came at the vet’s office, she passed peacefully in my arms and now she is suffering no more. Now she is gone from my life and our home but will never be forgotten. I already miss her terribly and in the days and weeks to come I know that pain will grow before it fades.

I don’t know if there is a Heaven for dogs but if there is, she is there now, free from disease, happily running, chewing her rawhide bones and greeting anyone who comes near with her big toothy grin and madly wagging tail.

So — think a kind thought for her and wish her peace, please. She was the finest, the best dog I have ever known. She was my Amber, the Wonder Dog.

— Kyle from Ovilla, TX