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      Our buddy Shamrock

      Shamrock relaxes at home.

      In the summer, Shamrock bounded down the grassy backyard hill zeroing in on the blue rubber racquetball. Once his ten pound poodle frame arrived, he grabbed the ball with his teeth and wrestled it away from the grass. In the fall, he scouted out the apple orchard, racing ahead and testing the fruit as it fell from the tree. His joy spilled over as he rampaged through the trees. In the winter, he wondered why his yard was buried in snow? He loved to romp in it, giving himself a white beard when his head poked up for air.

      Those memories stand out now that the book has closed on my buddy, my dog, just two months shy of his 19th birthday. He passed away this weekend in the arms of the woman he loved and who loved him back ten times over, my wife Jamie. After a long stretch of failing health there was nothing else we could or should do to keep him going. His body had worn out. In his selfless way he saved us from making a decision that was so difficult to consider.

      Shamrock's personality and reputation always seemed bigger than his physical stature. He was known all over town. Even friends who moved away would ask about him. Maybe it was those Christmas greetings he did from the Channel 3 set back in the 90's. Maybe it was the impression he made. He was a fighter. He had spirit.

      Shamrock and Jamie must have walked a million miles together over the years. His legs moved so quickly they seemed to blur as they toured their Fayetteville loop. I know because I could hardly keep up. Their regular route was filled with people who would wave, say hello and ask how the little guy was doing. In the past year she continued their precious time together in a dog stroller. It was the perfect answer to keeping an inseparable duo together.

      We're hoping the power of the memories can overcome the everyday moments we already miss. His bed in the corner. The gates on the hallway. The jingle of his tags on his collar as he drinks from his dish. We miss the way he waits by the door waiting for his chance to go upstairs. His soothing warmth as he cuddles on the couch. His patience by the breakfast table hoping for a lick of the bowl. We miss his presence and unconditional love. We miss his dependence on us and our dependence on him.

      Shamrock had wonderful veterinary care over the last year from the Dr. Kathy Smith and her team at Highland Animal Hospital in Central Square and Dr. Katie McGonigle and what seemed like an army at the Cornell Veterinary School in Ithaca. Yet, when we realized the end had likely come we went to the Emergency vet in Dewitt. Urgency and proximity brought us there, or so it seemed at first.

      The veterinary staff immediately rushed to help when we arrived with tears in our eyes. They confirmed what we suspected. Inside the waiting room we found consolation in a 15 year old boy with a developmental disability named Andrew. Andrew's family was inside the clinic visiting their sick dog Bailey. When I started talking with Andrew he asked me if my dog had died. I told him he did. I told him he was a poodle named Shamrock. Andrew told me his grandfather had recently died. He assured me that just like his grandfather, Shamrock will always be in our heart.

      Our heart is full tonight. It aches for the loss of our buddy. It overflows with all he gave us. We will remember him especially as his 19th birthday approaches on St. Patrick TMs Day. What other day would a special dog named Shamrock be born?

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