Missy was born in mid-November 1993. She died at 11:40 AM on July 23, 2006. She left behind many precious memories and she took a part of my heart with her. Missy was a beautiful little dog, a terrier. Most likely she was half Mini-Schnauzer. She had schnauzer coloring of black and gray. She had a long tail and young Shirley Temple fur. At her peak she weighed 17 or 18 pounds. If you have ever had a dog you will understand why I am writing this. If you haven’t I feel sorry for you.

On January 18,1997 we went to the Pet Orphans site in Van Nuys to look at dogs. There must have been 20 or more lined up for people to see and select. A minute or so after arriving I spotted my ten year old son Andrew playing with a little black and gray dog. She was jumping around enthusiastically and wagging her tail furiously. Her name was Missy and it was love at first sight. The Pet Orphans people are very thorough and it was January 24th when they finally delivered little Missy to our home. They cautioned me that it might take her a while to adjust to her new home. It didn’t. Missy was happy and playful and content to be with us from the first minute. Over the years to come “Happy Dog” were the words most frequently used to describe her.

I was the only one at home when Missy arrived. Later Patience showed up after work with Andrew. Patience had never had a dog before, but after 45 minutes with Missy she said, “I love her.” Andrew didn’t have to say it; you could see it on his face. Shortly after that Missy was feeling so content that she began rolling around on her back on the floor with her legs in the air and making grunting sounds. Patience asked “Is she crazy.” I explained no, she is happy and she is letting us know it.

Missy was a little over 3 years old at the time. She apparently hadn’t lived with stairs before. Now she was living in a tri-level townhouse. It took her about a day to figure it out. That first day she didn’t go up or down the stairs. By the second day she went wherever she wanted whenever she felt like it. That was great! If you watch dogs you will notice that when walking on level surfaces it is left legs, right legs, left legs, etc. However, when going up or down stairs it is front legs, rear legs, etc. Missy proved to be a very smart dog and she readily adapted.

Missy had such a wonderful spirit. She wagged her tail at almost everyone she saw. Either you were already her friend or she was determined that you would become her friend. She was a sweet, precious baby. She liked other dogs too. She was pleased to see them and it showed. She wagged her tail at cats also, but cats are suspicious creatures and rarely allowed her to come close. When they did she sniffed their noses. Missy was a joyful little girl.

From the time Missy arrived until late 2003 I worked mostly from home. Missy was my constant companion. Wherever I went, she followed. When I left home I often took her with me. When I took her to my offices that I had for a few months in both 1998 and 1999, she served as receptionist, greeting everyone with a wagging tail that said “welcome”. At home I often felt her cold little nose on the back of my legs when I was walking about. Sometimes I would be sitting and reading and Missy would drop a tennis ball on my lap. She was telling me she wanted to play catch. So I would throw it or sometimes lob it. When I lobbed it she often caught it on the fly in her mouth. She had excellent mouth/eye coordination. She would scamper after the ball and bring it back and growl playfully as I attempted to take it away from her. When she finally let me have the ball I would throw it again and the she would bring it back and “fight” for the ball again. Eventually I would throw the ball and she would ignore it. That meant the game was over.

I loved to watch her floppy ears bounce up and down when I took her for walks. She loved to explore the 35 acre complex where we lived. She liked playing with her doggy buddies and her people friends at the very nearby park.

Missy was a very gentle dog. If I gave her a piece of meat from my hand she was very well mannered. She took it gently and carefully, making sure she didn’t get a finger with it. She was wonderful with my granddaughters and nieces and nephews. Whenever they came over it was Missy they wanted to see and play with the most. She never let them down. Her least favorite holiday was the 4th of July. Fireworks frightened her and if she was out for a walk and heard fireworks or any real loud noise, she would stop in her tracks and then quickly head back to home. Then she would go in a corner under furniture. If something else scared her, she would come to me. I was her guard person and proud of the honor. Missy liked to jump up on the couch next to me when I was watching TV or reading the paper. But that wasn’t enough for her. She would snuggle her little body up as close as possible so as to make contact all along my leg. Sometimes I bumped into furniture or in some other way cut or scraped a leg. Missy would lick the wound for me to help it heal.

She was a bit of a finicky eater for a dog. Sometimes she didn’t want to eat the food in her dog bowl. Usually she wasn’t willing just to walk away from it. She would take her nose and push her bowl away, sometimes several feet. It was a clear message saying, “How dare you try to feed my this!” When she saw me putting on my sandals, she knew a walk was on the horizon. She would jump back and forth over my feet wagging her tail in anticipation.

Missy was always ebullient about life. She didn’t need fancy clothes. Any car that had windows was fine with her. No matter who else might be mad at me it was 100% certain that Missy would be happy to see me, and she would make that evident with her sweet little face and her body movements and her tail. When I got home she would greet me often lying at the top of the stairs with her nose hanging over the top step and her tail wagging. If I had a rough day this was guaranteed to make me feel better. So it is no wonder that 3 days after her loss I feel the worst just before I get home when I realize that this adorable little dog will not be there to greet me. My house feels empty without her.

Missy didn’t like big noisy trash trucks. She rarely barked, but when she saw them she let it rip. The trash trucks always went away so I’m sure she felt very successful. We often saw deer on our walks and she usually barked at them also. Sometimes we saw coyotes. They look a lot like dogs, but Missy was never fooled. She barked and snarled and growled at them. She was telling them to go back in the hills; they didn’t belong around people.

Andrew took karate and piano lessons and Missy took them also, happily making friends with the instructors and willingly participating in the activities. If someone was sick she sensed it and spent extra time with them. My mother died ten months after we got Missy. I had to pick my dad up and take him to the hospital. I brought Missy along to try and make him feel a little better. Missy knew she was supposed to stay in the back seat of the car and she did it. Except this time she jumped into the front seat and sat in my dad’s lap.

Just last July she made the 700-mile trip to Northern Nevada with us to meet me son Kevin’s future in-laws. They are ranchers and right after we arrived she disappeared in the middle of four Labradors and a collie. No problem, they were all saying hello. Missy delighted in her three days as a ranch dog.

At home she was inquisitive. Just a few months ago Patience went outside, not taking Missy with her. Missy bounded up the stairs, dashed into the master bedroom, hopped on top of the couch and stuck her nose between the blinds so she could look outside and see what was happening and why she wasn’t part of it. I know this because I followed her so I could see why she was in such a hurry.

The big downturn for my precious darling Missy began about June 27 when she didn’t eat at all. I wasn’t worried at first because it was not unusual for her to skip a meal, especially in hot weather. But by that weekend I was very concerned. She still hadn’t eaten despite my offering her hamburger and hot dogs, items that she would normally eat quickly and with gusto. On the evening of June 29 she threw up twice after eating just a little food. So on June 30th she made the first of what became several trips to the vet over her last month. She had bronchitis and a fever, but the vet said her heart was strong. It was alarming that her weight had dropped to 14.5 pounds. It got worse. Later she stayed at the vet on an IV for two days, she got injections of vitamins and antibiotics, she got prescription dog food but nothing helped for long. She would eat a bit and our hopes rose, but then she would stop again. The vet said she had a sore throat and later water on the lungs that prevented her from swallowing much food. We smeared high cal, high protein goo in her mouth, we gave her 4 different prescription medicines. We had to force the poor darling’s mouth open to make her take these items. She didn’t want too, but she was never mad at us afterwards.

The bitter truth began to be revealed on Wednesday July 19th. I tried to take her for an evening walk and she became disoriented and walked in small circles. I carried her home crying because I knew that was a very foreboding sign. Thursday morning she went back to the vet. He said her heart had become greatly weakened over the past 2 Ѕ weeks. She now had congestive heart failure. Her weight was down to 12 pounds and I felt so sad feeling her ribs when I pet her. She was given a stronger heart medicine, but the vet said to prepare for the worst. He also said no more walks. She was to be put on bed rest as much as possible. I bought a pen at PetCo to contain her wandering and we put up barricades by the stairs in the living room. I carried her outside. She used to love going outside, now she just stood there for a minute or two, took her leak and walked slowly back towards the house. I then picked her up and carried her inside. I still thought somehow she could beat the odds. I would give her a lot of the goo and make her eat a lot of the special dog food. After all her fever was long gone, she wasn’t throwing up any more and the vet had given her a diuretic that got rid of the water in her lungs at least for a while. She had never before been seriously ill and little dogs like her often lived 16 or 17 years. Why should my precious Missy die before 13? I wasn’t ready for that.

Saturday she got weaker, sometimes stumbling when she tried to walk. At about 4:20 Saturday afternoon I needed to go upstairs. She was asleep in a corner. I decided not to disturb her by picking her up and putting her in the pen. She was sleeping and didn’t seem to have enough energy to do much. But at about 4:40 Missy walked by my bathroom door. I can never get this out of my mind. With less than 20 hours to live somehow she summoned up the strength and the ingenuity and almost her last energy to get over the barricade and climb up 13 stairs on her tiny frail legs. Why? Just to see me. I picked her up and hugged her and brought her back downstairs. That wonderful little dog showed love and devotion way above anything that could be expected. She knew we loved her too and when she was well she sometimes used it to her advantage. Oh how I wish she could take advantage of me again. Saturday night I mentioned how much I loved to see her roll around and grunt. A little later as if she understood she did a half a roll and a semi-grunt combined with a partial tail wag. It was all she could do and she was telling us goodbye and saying don’t be sad.

Sunday morning I carried her outside and after she finished she just sat down on the grass. She didn’t have the strength to walk. I carried her back inside and she tried to walk, but every time she fell after a step or two. It was so sad. Missy was so brave until the end. She didn’t cry or whimper. Andrew came down to be with her and we pet her and told her it was okay. Patience did too. Her breathing had been labored for some time. Now it became shallow. Finally, and I suspect mercifully, she died peacefully at 11:40 AM Sunday July 23, 2006. I clipped some hair to save and wrapped her in her favorite blanket. Then we took her to a doggy cremation place. Soon we will get her ashes in a little pine box.

Two of our neighbors cried when I told them Missy had died. She was loved by so many, but by none more than I. Her little heart had given out but her spirit remained strong. As each new day passes the waves of sadness and tears are a bit further apart and a bit smaller, but no matter how long I live I will never forget her. I love you Missy and you will always be a part of me.

— Jim from Panama City, Panama