Eight years ago tonight we met for the first time.
Eight years ago tonight I pushed you away "I don't want a wee wee".
Eight years ago tonight I begged you to leave me alone. A female is what I want.
Eight years ago tonight you repeatedly returned the ball to me.
Eight years ago tonight you passed every test.
Eight years ago tonight curled in my lap.
Eight years ago tonight you looked into my eyes, confident that "we" were meant to be a team.
Eight years ago tonight you did not give up.
Eight years ago tonight you charmed your way into my heart.
It took me two days to give into your plight.
It took me two days to break down and agree with you, for the first of many times.
It took me two days to accept your terms.
It took me two days to see your point of view.
It took me two days to realize that there was more to you than the "wee wee" that I didn't want.
It took me two days to figure out that you were right and I was wrong.
It took me two days to fall in love with the black dog with the floppy ears and the wee wee.
Once I gave in I began to see what you were telling me, eight years ago tonight.
You were everything I was looking for and more than I could ever dream!
You learned with ease the puppy basics.
You became my "demo dog" in just a few short months for puppies and adults.
You took to search training the same as everything else, excelling in a short period of time.
You charmed your way into my life.
You charmed your way into the lives of many others.
You proved to me time and again, that there was no other choice for me, eight years ago tonight.
Through the years you taught me so much and it all began eight years ago tonight.
You taught me to work as a team.
You taught me to stand for what I know was right even when it was hard to do.
You taught me all about unconditional love.
You taught me with Tika and with me, that true friends can be made in an instant and last for a lifetime.
You taught me that people matter, young or old, "normal" or "challenged" you were always patient, kind, gentle and understanding. If only humans could be more like you the world would be a far better place.
You taught me that you can be as serious as any dog, the day you found the "bad guy" for the Sheriff.
You taught me by example that young people can make mistakes, but forgiveness can be found by burying a regretful face into a maneful of black fur. I will never forget that hug between you and that teen after he was found. It spoke volumes of your character and your heart.
You taught me about devotion, honor and valor that fateful September day in 2001. Another day I will always remember not only what the world saw that terrible day but what YOU showed me the day after.
You taught me how to move on to new things when it meant giving up something we loved to do.
You taught me that an older dog CAN learn a new trick and you made it entertaining the first time you met the sheep.
You taught me so much more in the short time we had. And it all began eight years ago tonight.
It was less than a year ago, the time I noticed you miss your first step. Was it the snow, the ice, or did you tweek your back, your leg or your foot? As time passed by more steps were missed. The visit to the Vet in April I feared the results. Two weeks later my fears were confirmed. The Flash test was positive and the other tests proved so too. You have DM. At first we cried together and we stumbled together. We tried to do things right and it just made it worse. We worked through the fire and indeed you were improving. Again you taught me about perseverance and determination. It seemed all of a sudden you were struggling to walk. My first thought was that DM had fought back trying to win another round. Another trip to the vet and I found it could get worse, so much worse. The last two weeks were bitter-sweet. Your time with me was coming to an end. Your body had been attacked. Your spirit was still strong but your body was losing this fight. "There is nothing that can be done" were the dreaded words I had heard. "It is most likely cancer" is what the doctor said. If it were only DM I would still have you here to celebrate our anniversary of eight years ago tonight.
God made you so awesome He could only part with you for a brief time. I am honored that He allowed that brief time to be with me before he called you back to Him. Just five weeks ago tonight.
Unlike the others that have gone before, I highly doubt you are waiting for me by the bridge. I know you are swimming in the warmth of the water right next to or under the Bridge. You are watching over the "lost" and caring for the less fortunate ones. When it is my time, I know I will be greeted by the jet black dog with the sopping wet coat, running as effortlessly as he did in his youth! Eight years ago tonight, I met an awesome dog. Five weeks ago tonight, I lost a dear friend.
Rest in peace Phoenix. May you always find what you are looking for; run effortlessly in the grass; love unconditionally and swim whenever you want. I love you my dear friend, that I met eight years ago tonight.