It was a cold February day 11 years ago when I walked into yet another animal shelter, still searching for a very special dog. There were so many sad, sweet faces! But one scrawny boy looked up tentatively when I passed, and managed a tiny tail-wag. His head was down and he cowered a bit; he was found wandering the streets in a dangerous part of the city, and had been abused. The attendant took us to the “viewing area” where this poor scared, shaking dog promptly peed out of fright. He was about 10 months old, underweight but otherwise healthy. Alas, he wasn’t available for adoption yet – he needed to be held another 3 days to allow time for his owners to claim him!
I agonized the entire time.

Finally, on Saturday morning I picked up my new best friend Pyle, and took him home. We spent our first days at the park and lake (he fetched immediately), watching movies in bed (Old Yeller, The Yearling) and getting to know each other. In the next few months this shy dog that never barked became my protector.

I moved to Chicago from Kansas, and was unfamiliar with the big city. The evening after our move, we needed to take back the rental truck – which I had to do alone in a dark and scary lot – at night. We were driving my car back with Pyle lying down on the passenger seat when a man appeared from behind a parked car and jumped to the passenger window, banging on the door. Pyle jumped to the window, barking, growling and ready to rip the man apart! (luckily the window was up). The man took off, of course. While there weren’t many times when Pyle needed to protect me, he made me feel safe in the big city, and was my companion and always-loving buddy for nearly 12 years.

Pyle was also an amazing athlete, able to run, jump, swim and retrieve so well people often remarked about his skill. He was brilliant – It took only a single lesson to teach him to roll over; he could open a cabinet door and do other tricks. He truly was a dog who “lived to serve.”
Even people who said they didn’t like dogs were attracted to his patient, sweet disposition. Friends would ask to take him out and some were nearly as devastated as I was when he died.

This sweet boy will always be in my heart. There will never be another dog like my dear Pyle, who died last spring of lymphoma.
He will be forever missed.
Forever loved and missed,

Pyle’s Mom