Stewie was an Australian shepherd.  He died today at the ripe age of 16 years old.  He was my dad's dog who started taking care of and adopted him from my brother a mere 14 years ago.  He was always a gentle soul with a calm spirit. 
Years ago I tried him on sheep with no luck, he wasn't interested at all.  Not bred for herding, he settled into being my dad's companion and running partner, and a calm inspiration to the grand children.
He had a side kick, BC, who some think he thought as his mother.  She wasn't, as she was a Rottie Lab cross.  When my brother could no longer take care of these two rather large dogs, I was asked to, and I said I would adopt BC.  Short for Bone Crusher, she was the most gentle soul that I have ever known in a dog.  She never barked, and would just lay on the porch on her Coolaroo, and watch the UPS man drop packages off frequently.  She was the only dog that I would have ever trusted alone with a child.
BC died on us about eight years ago.  My brother was over working on his car, and though she was taught not to, she approached him while he was laying on the slab and licked him.  She never licked.  I found her later in the evening after I got home from work.  Gone at age 12. 
Stewie lived longer than his adopted mom BC.  And my dad did a real good job taking care of him.  Always taking him to the vet when ever he needed it, which was  quite often. 
His newest "girlfriend" Christian will desperately miss him.  She really loved seeing him when we all came to visit at my dad's place.  Always in his face, she would pester him terribly.  He tolerated more that I could stand to watch, as she just about stuck her muzzle into his mouth.  She was always the pest to him.  I was always yelling at her to leave him alone!
I think the most important aspect of having a pet is that drive to have to get certain things done for him, whether to fix them up a bed, feed them, shop for them, walk them, even taking them to the vets.  And as we age, this concern for another and physical movement is important to our well-being.
My dad has decided not to get any more dogs.  I think this is a mistake for the reasons mentioned previously.  Tonight he came over to my house and dropped off all of Stewie's personal belongings.  Many of which will be donated to the local shelter.  It was killing him to see all of Stewie's stuff around the house, reminding him of what he was trying to now put behind him.
I know the pain of loosing a beloved pet, as I have lost way too many.  God, for what ever reason, just doesn't let dogs live that long. And as I am crying while writing this, Kate and Christian feel me, and come over to see what is wrong.  And Chris stays longer sniffing my breath deeply trying to understand.
But God gave us dogs for our benefit and our companionship.  And that companionship is worth all of the gold in the world.  Irreplaceable.  The gift of having a dog, and having that being actually care unconditionally about us, is remarkable.  People don't care for us unconditionally, if things get too bad, they are gone.
Dogs are kind of like how God is.  Huh!  Maybe they are a type.  Though God does love us unconditionally, except that we have to accept Him; just like a dog, He waits, off in he periphery, wanting to be asked to come in.  
I keep telling myself, that I ALWAYS want to have a dog in my life.  Even though someday when I get really old, I will stop trialing, I won't stop loving, and needing to be loved, and needing to take care of something else other than me.
We all miss you Stewie, and now you can be with your adopted mother BC again.  Until we meet again.  Say hi to God for us...

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