Leia came from a renowned kennel in Michigan named Cher Car Kennels. They specialize in a handful of breeds, but one of their passions is the promotion of the Dutch Shepherd dog throughout the United States. I visited the kennel on October 10, 2022 to pick up my new 7-week old puppy. When I arrived, Carole Field walked me into the back of the office, where I saw several large runs with ample room for the dogs and puppies to play. Once we neared the back of the room, she opened up one of the swing gates and there I saw all the pups from the Hanna X Ekon litter. She started separating out the female puppies and ushering them out past the gate into the larger main space. There were three female pups that came running out. Two of them proceeded to play and rough house with each other, like puppies do. One of them ran right past her two sisters and came and jumped in my lap.

About that time, Ms. Field began to lead the three puppies away from the run and back towards the main office space. Once back inside, she began to finalize the necessary forms and paperwork for the transfer of ownership of my new dog. I took the chance to sit down cross-legged on the floor and just as I was about to call out to the puppies, the same female pup from earlier came running up to me. She jumped in my lap, jumped out and even played with pants leg, all while her sisters continued to ignore me from the other side of the open office space.

I asked Ms. Field “Is this my dog?” She got up from the chair in which she was working and started checking the ears of the two pups furthest from me. The puppies receive a painless tattoo after birth that identifies the mother, the sex and the order of birth. When she got to the puppy playing at my feet, she said “Yeah, that’s your dog.” I asked “How did she know that she was my dog?” Ms. Field replied “Sometimes, it just works out that way.”

From that moment on we were inseparable.

On our drive back from Michigan, Leia sat in soft-sided small dog travel kennel. She wined and cried until I unzipped the top and let her poke her little head out. She stared out the front and side windows of the rental car, amazed at the wide world around her. It didn’t talk long though until she simply could not be contained in that kennel. I let her into the back of the minivan, where I had laid down the seats to give her a large play area. She wasn’t interested in that space in the least. She kept struggling to climb up the back of the center console until finally I pulled her up and she laid down right next to me, her body pressed up against my right side and her head laying on my right hand.

It seems like she didn’t move for hours. My arm cramped on numerous occasions, but I just couldn’t bring myself to disturb her, as this was the only position she had found that comforted and soothed her. That first night, on the long drive back to Dallas, we stopped in at a road-side hotel. I rented a room and brought her kennel inside, hoping to grab just a few hours sleep before hitting the road for the final stretch home. After giving her a chance to play around and explore the room, I sat her in the kennel and placed it on the floor next to the bed.

She was not having it.

So, I moved the kennel up unto the bed next to me. She was still not satisfied. Finally, I unzipped one of the expandable ends of the soft-sided kennel and reached out to pet her through the cloth mesh. She crammed her little head into the corner of it, getting as close to me as possible. I then reached towards her and placed my hand on top of her head.

Finally, she was happy again. No more crying, no more whining, all night long.

She started out as tiny lap puppy, laying on my chest while I relaxed on the couch after work watching TV. Eventually, she was a 50 lb. lap puppy, still climbing up onto my chest as we laid on that same couch, relaxing from the days work.

Leia will be forever missed. I can’t help but cry when I think about all the time and the experiences that were robbed from us. A piece of me was taken the day that she passed. She left a Dutch Shepherd-sized hole in my heart. I’m not sure how I will ever fully recover from this loss. I think that maybe, when an animal as special as her departs from your world, just maybe, you’re not supposed to.