Goodbye, Swifty. I will always love you.

December 5, 2004. It was senior year of high school. The school was being renovated. Christmastime jazz and wind ensemble concerts were fast approaching. Our AP Government's We the People state competition loomed on the horizon after New Year's. Worst of all, Grandpa, and our dogs Bonnie and Cindy, had all died within the previous year and a half. And did I mention that Bush had just been given a second term? All in all, I was a wreck.

Enter Swifty. She was my Christmas present that year. And what a wonderful gift she was.

Swifty passed away this morning. She was about 8 or 9 human years old.

Swifty was a black lab with some husky mixed in. As you might tell, her eyes were different colors - one brown, the other blue! The folks at the Humane Society named her Swiftie, after Dr. Swift, but we changed the spelling.

For the first eight months after we got her, she was my dog. Or so I would have Mom and Dad believe! I let her sleep on my bed each night. I kept thinking to myself, I better get to bed before Swifty gets there or I'm gonna have a rough night! (Make that a 'ruff' night!) She was on my bed wagging her tail when she welcomed me home as a new high school graduate.

Oh, and the walks! For those first several months, the mere utterance of the word "walk" would get her attention! I would take her for a walk every night after Jeopardy! - a tradition that continued almost every night I've been home from college in the past four years.

In August of 2005, it came time to part ways - temporarily. I was off to Central Michigan University. From what I understand, she didn't seem to have a hard time adjusting to my absence. We left her home the day I went up to CMU that August, but when my homesick self was about to come home for Labor Day Weekend, there she was in the passenger seat of the van, panting with excitement!

In January of 2006, with me at school and my brother in Alaska, Mom and Dad felt lonely with just one dog at home. So they gave Swifty a rambunctious, yet adorable, sister: Lucy. Here's Lucy on the left, Swifty on the right:

Swifty was by far the best behaved dog our family has had (at least since I've been alive). I will always treasure the walks we took, the fun we had (with Lucy, of course), and the smiles she brought to our faces. She showed us so much love, and we did the same to her.

We took Swifty to the vets about a month ago because she was having trouble breathing. After a total of three vet visits, a loss of her appetite, and a misdiagnosis of what they thought was a respiratory infection, an X-ray revealed she had dilated cardiomyopathy, which is an enlarging of the heart. Few dogs who have it survive more than a year or two from diagnosis.

She didn't really regain much strength. She slept a lot. Our walks were fewer and shorter. We went for one last one earlier this week.

This morning, I woke up to the sound of my mom sobbing and telling my aunt, "she's gone!" Mom had seen her laying on her belly, perked up, in the back yard a little while ago. She moved under the hammock, which was a favorite spot of hers, and passed away there. We buried her just a little while earlier.

Thank you for being such a wonderful Christmas present, Swifty.

Rest in peace.

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