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Dear Niki,
What can I say? I hope you led a happy life and know that we loved you so very much. Now that you have gone to a better place we will keep you in our hearts for as long as we shall live. It pains me to see you go, but luckily you died in your sleep away from pain. Niki, you were a beautiful dog that I loved and appreciated. When we blew air in your face you got all excited and wanted to smother us with kisses. Aww, how sweet you were playing hide and go seek with your food not understanding that we could see exactly where you put it. The one thing I'll remember most is the look you would give me when I would stop petting you, this look that said, "Hey, come on, please pet me some more."
Now like Rufus, you're gone for good and I wish you could have understood how much you meant to everyone that ever met you. Never will I forget those faces you made, nor the way you walked into the room, nor will I forget the times we spent together. Goodbye friend, we love you.
Dear Dandy,

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry.

You were the best dog I ever could've had. You were the best dog any of us every could have had. You were smart and funny and sweet and loving. You were lucky enough to be born a mutt, part German Shepherd, part something else we never could figure out, with none of the genetic neuroses common to purebreeds. You behaved like an angel most of the time, and on the rare occasions when you misbehaved, your utter misery at having displeased us ensured that we'd never stay angry at you for long. We still laugh at the memory of catching you sitting on the forbidden couch when you thought we were out. We still marvel about the time you were staying at Grandma's house while the rest of us were on a trip, and you knew we were coming to pick you up long before we got there. There was never a more wonderful dog, and anyone who says it's not so is gonna get their nose busted, I promise.

We had you since you were a puppy and we were little children, and we all loved you so, so much. And finally, you grew up with us and grew old.

And then you got cancer, and...

Oh, god. There go the waterworks again.

See, humans get so squeamish sometimes. And your nose ran a lot. It just ran in one long string, from your nose clear to the ground. And we...we couldn't stand it. And we shunned you, and...

More waterworks. Really, I think the whole family gets like this sometimes.

We shunned you, girl. We hated to be around you. We'd flinch back from you when you came up to be petted. And we could tell it hurt you even more than the cancer, to have your family refusing to pet you and refusing to let you love us. It wasn't your fault, and I'm so, so, so sorry. We treated you like shit. But you were never shit, Dandy. We were shit, I swear. I'm so, so sorry. I want to believe it's because we were all still kids and too damn stupid to know better. I'd like to think if I could do it over, I'd be nicer to you. Small comfort, I guess.

And we let you hang around for too long. You were getting sicker and sicker, and we know you were in such physical pain (but you never showed it, you sweet, sweet girl). The fact is: none of us wanted to give you up. Mama and Daddy were farm kids at heart, and they knew better than we did that when a dog got bad sick, it was kinder to put her to sleep peacefully, but I don't think they could stand the idea of letting you go, either. But finally, it got to be too much, and they felt cruel. But then, we acted even worse.

We called the pound and had them come get you. And we didn't go with you. We watched from the house as they loaded you into the truck and took you away. You were terrified. We could see you trembling clear from the house. You were old and sick and hurting, and strange people were taking you away, and we weren't going with you to offer comfort, and you must have surely thought, in that guilty, doggy way, that you'd been bad, and we were angry and were sending you away forever, and you were going somewhere to be punished, and you were all alone...

God, I'm sorry, baby. Waterworks, waterworks. I'm so sorry. We were horrible owners, and I'm so goddamn sorry.

And they tossed your body in the damn dump and burned you with all the other dead dogs. They burned you with garbage. And there's no way in heaven or hell that I can ever say I'm sorry enough.

We never replaced you. Daddy would never even consider the idea. He said he was tired of crying over dead dogs. I'm afraid I've come to think the same way. I don't know that I could trust myself. And I've never, ever gotten over you. I didn't say it enough back then, and I certainly never showed it properly, but I loved you, Dandy. I always will love you, I promise. I wish you were still here. I promise I'd wipe your nose. I promise I'd hold your head at the pound. I'm sorry. Maybe you can forgive me someday (hell, you're a dog--if I brought you a treat, you'd forgive me immediately, right?), but I don't think I'll every forgive myself.

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