back in march of 2000 my wife was working part time at the Y.M.C.A. as a night manager, of sorts. the C.E.O. got a job at a "Y" in chicago. she put her house up for sale, and it sold quickly. actually too soon, 'cause she did not have a place to stay 'till it was time for her to move. she rented an apartment, but they did not allow dogs over 25 pounds. so she asked us to keep her dog, 'dutch', 'till she moved. we took dutch in. he was a big boy, 'bout 80 pounds, around two years old. we had/have lots of room with a couple of acres in the country. he was very shy, did not want to interact with us, very much. he really had a hard time with me, he acted like he was afraid of me. it turns out he was abused [the C.E.O.s story] by her teen aged son, so he was afraid of men. well, one day, she up and took off for chicago, and did not tell us, and she did not take dutch. we gave him a home, and he eventually warmed up to us, and became a very good dog, and friend. he loved to play, especially chasin' tennis balls, and riding in the back of my truck or jeep. he was very healthy, and with the exception of a rattlesnake bite, he had a mostly uneventful life, health wise. the vet loved him, 'cause he was so patient and took his shots and treatments without incident. he became a very kind, loving dog. he even enjoyed playing with the kittens. the kittens loved him and they liked hanging around with him. as dogs do, dutch started to slow down with age. he did not want to play, as much, and he started to have trouble jumping up into the back of the truck or jeep. he wanted to go so i would have to pick him up and put him in. he got to the point he could not even jump through the big ole dog door i installed for him. he eventually got to the point he was not eating well, and just wanted to just lay around. he lost his hearing,as well. he still loved attention and being loved on, you know, petting and hugs. the vet gave us some meds for him, and said he was just getting too old and his time was coming, soon. i mentioned putting him down and how could i tell when it was time, not wanting him to suffer. the vet said dutch still loved life and still loved us, but he said dutch would let us know when it was time. i asked what to look for, and the vet just said, "he will tell you, you will know." the last couple of days, he quit eating entirely. he drank a lot of water, and could not keep it down. we stayed up with him, most of the night. then, he started barking, almost consistantly, a very high pitched yelp. he was constantly raising up and then laying down with a drop. he frequently stared at me, like he wanted something. then, it hit me, it was time. well, i put him down, this morning. i lost an old friend, but he is not suffering anymore. he cannot love us anymore, but we will always love him and his memories will be cherished. he lived around 14 or so years, not wanting for much of anything, living in a safe, loving home....a big part of the family. i understand 14 years is a long time for a dog in the 80-90 pound range. if you have any animals, give them loads of love and attention, because the day will come when they are gone, too. goodbye. dutch, old friend.