I have been a dog owner for my entire life.  My wife and I have never had much, but we have scrimped and saved, and we own a little place in the country where our dogs can run and play.  We had three until Dec. 26, 2013, when we lost Duffy.  Duffy was our 14 year old Irish Setter, and was the most loving creature I have ever known.  He helped us raise our daughter, and was our constant companion.  Since I work nights, he became protector for my wife and daughter.  He never once let on, that he wouldn’t hurt a fly.  He was one of 12 pups born in 1999 to Murphy, my last Irish Setter.  He and his sister Casey, were the last two pups in the litter, and no one wanted them.  My wife and I couldn’t afford two more dogs, but we kept them both anyway, because neither one of us could bear to part with them.  Casey and Murphy both passed after we moved to the country.  We have a little graveyard for them out in the front yard.  Duffy became the old man of the manor, around here.  He went everywhere with my wife and daughter…constantly by their side to protect them.  Constantly on guard out in the yard, he would greet me every morning when coming home from work.  Never rough or rowdy, just soft, and gentle, as if he knew that I’m getting older and have bad knees.  He would walk so close to me, find my hand with his muzzle, and nuzzle me.  He never left the property…never got into trouble, never disobeyed, and always remained nearby.  Summer afternoons on the porch were not complete without Duffy lying at our feet.  As he aged, he never got sick, never whimpered, never caused us a moment of pain or discontent.  He just got older.  He seemed almost indestructible.  I even began to put aside the sure knowledge, that someday, he must leave us.  Then, on Thursday, my wife called me home.  Duffy was very ill, very weak.  I rushed home, where I found my wife in the driveway with him.  He was looking down the driveway, as if he knew it was me coming home.  I carried him inside and we laid him down on his pad.  He could barely  hold his head up…never a whimper.  He was waiting for something…our daughter…his baby.  He waited for hours, until finally, she arrived home.  He couldn’t go without his family around him.  I laid on the floor next to him…held him in my arms and softly stroked his head, and his soft silky ears.  I kept whispering to him, what a good boy he had been, his whole life…how bold and strong he had been…how gentle and loving.  Finally, I mustered up the strength to tell him that it was “okay,” now…that he could go.  “Okay,” was always our word for him.  Finally,  he shuttered, and took a couple of last deep breaths,  and he was gone, as I whispered to him that I loved him, and that I would see him soon.  I kissed him on the forehead on last time, and I know that we had said goodbye to each other…or perhaps just “farewell,” until we meet again.  We buried Duffy the next morning, in our little pet cemetery, next to his mama, and his sister.  I’ve included a photo…I’m not very tech savvy, so I hope it attaches.  The handsome redhead is Duffy…the gorgeous redhead is his favorite little girl in the world…our 25 year old, Sam.  I can’t stop crying.  I’ve seen so much tragedy in my life, and I can’t stop crying over Duffy…so rest assured, that when you speak of your beloved dogs, there will be at least one member of your listening audience who knows your pain.  Thanks for taking the time to read this…I know that I have not done him justice with my simple words.  He was so much more than just a dog…he was a friend, companion, protector, and more loyal and faithful than any human I’ve ever known.  If I had half the qualities that he had, I’d be ten times the man I am.

— Gerald from Troy, MO