was a temporary lodger in your family's house but it was me who you slept with and greeted first. When I moved, I asked if I could take you with me but they were reluctant to part with you and said no. Of course, it came as no surprise when I got that call a couple of months later.

'he just hasn't been the same since you left,' I was told.

oy, was I overjoyed. I remember being nervous on the hour drive to pick you up. Would you really be happy moving from a big house with a yard in the suburbs to a small apartment in the city? That night when I collected your stuff and put you in the car, you kissed me about a million times. I swear from those slurps I could hear you saying, 'What took ya so long, dad?' I never looked back and can say with certainty that you never did either.

f there was a transition period, I missed it because you took over the apartment (and bed) immediately like they were yours from the start. Nothing with you was an effort. We just flowed into our routines. You came everywhere with me - work, visits, even a date or two. You had a zeal for life that was unsurpassable. One hundred per cent of your beautiful heart went in to everything you did - especially chasing the ball, tug of war and giving kiss baths.

was always so proud and impressed at how you dealt with adversity. Epileptic seizures, the German shepherd that ripped off a piece of your back, the bee sting in your little nose. In all those incidents your most indomitable spirit shined like the brightest of lights. You braved through them, shook them off, got back on your paws and walked steadily on your path. I admired and aspired to those qualities. You were truly an inspiration.

feared the day that stray kitty showed up and stayed was the day I ruined your life. You just couldn't bear for me to give my love to another critter! And did you give me the business! You moped, went on a kiss strike and even growled at me a few times. You looked for any reason to attack little Gus and made me protect him from you. Even when he outgrew you, your assaults continued. (It's a good thing he loved you so much) But even this you overcame. That one night Gus stayed out a few hours longer than usual and when he finally returned, you pounced on him and kissed him like a mad woman. The last couple of years you even chose to nap side by side with him. Let me tell you, my little baby, a few days after you left, that cat realised you weren't coming back and sat on your living room spot and meowed for about 10 minutes straight. He misses you almost as much as I do.

'll never forget that moment when I noticed age in your face. You were about nine but hadn't slowed down a step. You still acted like a puppy - a puppy with gray on her snout. It was really the first time the thought of your mortality hit me. Life without you seemed unfathomable and I guess I went into some kind of denial about the inevitable. I even went on the Internet to find the longest living dachshund. I saw that many lived 18, 19 years and thought, 'whew, she's got a long time left'.

t was only about a year later when it started to go bad. It all hit at once - the heart murmur, arthritis, tooth infection. We started going to the vet a lot and had some pretty tense times but you always bounced back and went through long stretches of feeling good. They said your heart was stable and the aspirin helped your hurting bones tremendously. You loved life so much and I knew you would fight ferociously to keep it. More than once in the last 18 months I had to take you out of emergency AMA. I knew that you'd be happier and better off at home. And I was right. I guess that last time I was really worried. You weren't breathing well at all and couldn't get comfortable. I took you to the emergency room and they got your breathing better quickly. They even gave me the option of taking you home that night but for the first time I thought it better you stay until morning, close to the oxygen. It was only going to be about four hours so I went home fully expecting to pick you up then. Of course I regret that decision now. Your heart stopped twice and they told me that once off life support there was little or no chance to recover. After an hour of debate, they convinced me to have you put to sleep.

hen I read how others hold their babies when given the shot, I feel ashamed that I could not bring myself to be in the room when they did it but that's how it was. Part of me still doesn't accept it and it feels as if I'm still waiting for that morning so I can pick you up.

y little baby pooch, you were like an appendage. It feels like something vital was ripped from my very soul. The loss has been crushing. Not an hour goes by when I do not think of you. Not a day has passed when I don't cry for you. I expect I'll be doing so for a long time. You were my mate, my teacher and my jester. I loved you more than I've ever loved anything or anyone.

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