Faith, the lab/shepherd mix my family adopted from a shelter when I was 16 was put to sleep today. She was 13 years old.

She was the perfect dog for our family. She was about 10 weeks old when we adopted her. The shelter notified the man who brought her, and her littermates, to the shelter when she was adopted. We learned that Faith originated from an unplanned pregnancy between a college student's yellow lab and neighboring farm's roaming shepherd. The original owner wrote to us and thanked us for adopting one of his pups; he also sent us photos of the litter when the pups were still with him.

Faith was a very even tempered dog. My mother ran an in-home daycare for the first several years of Faith's life. She was a great "nanny" dog. Faith had a very close relationship with one boy in particular. He would wrestle with her, ride her, use her as a pillow, and Faith loved him. After he had grown and was in high school, he stopped by one day in passing. Faith knew him, and ran over as if he was still just a toddler. He patted her head, and she loved him.

Even when she got older and more easily annoyed by little kids, she never lost her patience. She would move away from the grabby little hands and look to one of us with her expressive eyes to ask us to protect her. I don't think in her entire life she ever even growled at a human being.

In the last few years, she served as a teacher and role model for our girls. She handled the invasion of our girls with grace and enthusiasm. She would even try to play a bit, despite the arthritis in her joints. Even as recently as a few weeks ago, I posted about her interactions with Holly while we were away on holiday. My girls are going to miss her as much as the rest of the family.

I'll miss her "talking" grumbles, and how she rubbed her backside against the sofa to tell us she needed to go out. I'll miss how she would lead gullible people to where the treats were kept in order to beg an extra treat or two. I'll miss the stories of stolen foods--she loved food to the end. Except for hotdogs, ketchup, and veggies. She'd spit out carrots, peas, and all the stuff that was good for her. She'd think nothing of eating an entire box of tissues, though!

Faith's spirit kept her with us longer than the doctors expected. She survived a very hard winter despite the arthritis and muscle deterioration in her hind legs. A tumor was growing, bigger and bigger every day. Finally, she appears to have suffered a stroke, making it almost impossible for her to walk. With a heavy heart, my mother, who Faith loved longingly, took her to the vet to let her go. We are all grieving today, and for a long time to come.

Here is one of the photos sent to us from Faith's original owner. My mother believes Faith is the black puppy under the stairs because of the characteristic ways she holds her head:

And here she is when we brought her home at 10 weeks old:

And lastly, this is Faith as a senior enjoying her last summer in the sun: