Once upon a time, there was a spotted dog whom no one seemed to want. Even the woman and her daughter, looking for a dog that day, overlooked her. But the people at the shelter convinced them to take her home, so they did.

That was eleven years ago, and that spotty dog was very good, very loving, and very strong. She helped the woman and her daughter deal with some pretty heavy emotional things, and she gave them something happy to hold onto during hard times.

This dog never did a bad thing. She was devoted to her “mother,” and she learned everything that was asked of her. She helped her “father” recover from a stroke. She put up with five cats who liked to rub against her, and even though she hated it, she let them. She laid by the sliding glass doors when her “mother” was out, waiting for her to return. She memorized the sound of her “parents’” cars, and she always knew when they were pulling into the garage, and she met them at the door with a toy in her mouth.

When she was ten, she had to have her leg amputated. No big deal to her; she just learned very quickly to maneuver on three legs. But the cancer that caused the operation eventually overtook her, and though she dealt extremely bravely with the chemotherapy, it seemed too much to ask for her to go much further, struggling.

So on April 16, she said goodbye, and she died as bravely and gracefully as she lived.

She leaves a jagged hole in the lives of her family. They hope to find another one to fill the void, but that seems almost impossible.

This is in memory of Stirrup, the wonder dog.

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