Ava 9:45 AM

Friends come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  Their personalities are as varied as their mannerisms and characteristics.  Yet, each brings something special to the relationship; each is special in its own right. 
I first met Ava when she came to stay for a few weeks during the summer.  She was a teen aged dog, lively and spirited - forced to associate with... labs!  She arrived to find herself able to frolic with another Shepherd, which was perfectly delightful for her.  Of course, she also spent time with me. 
Ava, during her short visit, became my friend.  She slept in my room, spent time with me while I worked on my thesis, and charmed me with her sweet and gentle personality.  It was no surprise that, when she decided not to be a Guide Dog, she asked to be a part of our family. 
Although I wanted to keep Ava with me... well, life didn't cooperate.  So Ava lived with Nonna and Papa and their other animal roommates.  She was happy. 
Ava was a dog of a different color.  Unlike other dogs who shared her life, she was very sweet, unassuming, and quiet (accept when barking was required).  This does not mean that she lacked personality.  She had her quirks... she was a big fan of "hot cakes," "cocktails," and going for rides.  She didn't like loud noises and was not fond of thunder.    
In her heart of hearts, Ava was a family dog.  She liked to be with her family, her human friends in particular.  Ava was always happy to welcome her family, to allow them to pet her, give her tummy rubs (her absolute favorite kind of love), and to settle in for the night at the side of the bed.  She enjoyed going for walks, expeditions into the woods (even though she needed a bit of help getting into the pick-up), or laying contently with the family while they relaxed.  
Despite her intimidating size and breed, Ava was a sweetheart.  Although she wasn't too sure about cats, she didn't mind them sharing her home.  But, when I was around, she was happy to protect me from those furry purring beasts!
The Lass has an affinity for German Shepherds.  She likes all dogs, but German Shepherds hold a special place in her heart.  I am sure that some of this is a result of her affection for Ava.  Ava was a great animal friend.  They could play in the snow together... the Lass would throw snow and Ava would try to catch it.  When the Lass was about 3, she attempted to make a snow dog with Ava.  With Ava around, there were many opportunities to hug a dog, play with a tail, or, if Ava had her way, give some of those great tummy rubs.  
And if Ava was very lucky, I would hold the Lass upside down and let Ava snuffle her.  This behavior excited Ava a lot - though I am not sure why.  perhaps it was because there was a face, giggling, right at her level allowing for great kissing opportunities!
For ten years Ava occupied a place in our family.  She was there to greet us when we arrived, there to wake us in the mornings with a black wet nose in our faces... and she was there to keep us company at night.  And now, she resides in our hearts and in our memories.  
I didn't get a chance to say good-bye to Ava, to give her a tummy rub or scratch her ears.  I didn't get to tell her that, even though she never lived with me, I love her and will miss her.  But I do... and I will.  
I hope that she is happy with Tekka and Magnum... and know that Grandma will spoil her rotten.  And I know that she knows she was and is always loved .