Miles, you were the sweetest German Shepherd and my shadow for nearly 13.5 years. I brought you home at 9 weeks old and you grabbed a stick twice your size in the yard and wanted your belly scratched. I can't believe how small you were at the time. You became my little pooper for a few months while your stomach settled. Daddy didn't get much sleep at night as he smelled accident after accident in the crate. But Daddy made sure you got clean sheets and set up your crate again and again for as long as it took. Eventually, you settled in and loved fetching anything I threw for you. You also loved swimming, walking alongside Daddy while yard mowing and never letting Daddy out of sight. When you were a bit older, I remember often looking up at you relaxing in the yard while I mowed. You were always looking at me and moved positions anytime you could not see me. Your loyalty still amazes me to this day and is terribly missed. You made me feel so important and special.
We always joked calling you such a big ferocious German Shepherd as you had your frisbee hanging off of your tooth. You went crazy for bouncing basketballs for some reason and loved a good dig in the sand...always looking for some unknown object that never appeared. You loved your puppy pool and dug in the water there too...I'm sorry all that digging never resulted in finding whatever you thought was there! And then there was winter...you wouldn't let Daddy shovel because every time I tried to throw some snow, you went after it in the air. I eventually had to invent your favorite game, "shovel snow" and you would run all over the yard back and forth while I shoveled from one side to the other. Our neighbors must have laughed so hard at your games.
We loved having you on fun trips to Aspen, Duluth, Door County, northern WI, Iowa, Milwaukee and various campsites. I will never forget seeing you slide off the path of the hill in Aspen we were climbing at about 10 months old. Daddy lost his breath seeing it happen, but you eventually came to a stop and acted like, "What's the big deal?" And how about that time you were so excited to get to the boarding kennel that you jumped out of my moving car at slow speed? Again, just a minor scratch, but Daddy was left with racing heart for a while.
You and your best German Shepherd friend, Indie, who also lived with us for several years, loved tennis balls so much. I didn't feel right if I didn't have a supply of at least a dozen tennis balls at my disposal. You and Indie also loved going to see Grandma at the nursing home where you would get treats and she would ask where you both were when I came alone. I think Grandma preferred the dogs to me sometimes. She always wanted me to give you both another treat. People always stared when seeing you two big Shepherds prancing down the halls to Grandma's room where her face would light up when she saw you.
In 2016, you had a big surgery to remove your spleen when a non-malignant growth was discovered. Miles, we never questioned whether we would try to save you or not. You recovered well and we enjoyed trips to the Iowa farm a bit later in the year. Winter was hard for you, though. You couldn't balance as well anymore and we worked so hard to keep you safe in the ice and snow so you would fall as little as possible. I'm sorry I couldn't stop every fall. Please forgive me for the times I could have been a tad more patient with you. I'm human which means far from perfect.
We made it to spring, but your body did start to show the signs of wear and tear and the veterinarian told us you had arthritis in the back and legs. Daddy did his best to keep you comfortable for as long as possible until you told us in the last few weeks that you were tired and didn't want to fight much anymore. We tried our best, Miles. We did everything we could for you. I hope you enjoyed your last pig ear, steak and almost full bag of baby carrots. You seemed at peace that final day.
Your Boxer and Yorkie brothers Diesel and Ruger miss you very much. Diesel still looks for you. Many people who knew you tell me what a great dog you were and how much you were loved. Your absence is heart-wrenching, but I pray there is a happy place for you free of pain and full of treats. I will never see baby carrots again without thinking of you. I never knew a German Shepherd could love them so much. It is too painful to think of whether I will see you again someday or not. Moving forward for the next unknown number of years of my life will not be the same and feels incredibly strange right now. You were the constant while careers changed, friendships came and went and relationships faltered. I love you more than I thought I could love. Go get those tennis balls and chomp away my sweet boy while your Daddy longs to see you again. Continue to be the good boy you are and I plan on seeing you with carrots and tennis balls in hand.