All German Shepherds are very special to their owners ... but Kino will always hold a special place in the heart of her human companion and friend. Michelle Uretsky wrote the following "Tribute and Thanks" to her beloved German Shepherd, Kino who passed away in March, 2004.

Kino -My Pearl

Kino, my beloved pet, the title "Man's Best Friend" doesn't do you justice. When I met you that day at the pound, I knew there was something special behind those sad brown eyes. You responded to me in a way that touched my soul, and I knew I had to save you. When I called the pound the next day to inquire about the beautiful German Shepherd I had seen, I was told that someone had adopted you. But something in my heart told me to make a trip down there to see for myself, and there you were, ready for me to take you home. The name Kino came to mind for you, after the character in John Steinbeck's The Pearl. For I knew that this scrawny little puppy, like sand in an oyster shell, would turn into something beautiful, and that's just what you did.

I thought from the beginning of our relationship that I was rescuing you, but as it turned out, you were actually rescuing me. You helped me out in so many ways; it's hard to know where to start. The day that my boyfriend came over for the first time, you showed me right away by the way you interacted with him that he was my future husband and your daddy. Thank you for picking the right man for me, the other love of my life.

In 1997 when I became extremely ill, it was you who was constantly by my side. I remember the day that I came home from the doctor with the devastating diagnosis of lupus. I was so down and you refused to leave me by myself. You comforted me in ways that no one else could. I was put on chemo therapy for my lupus, and when I made those countless trips to the bathroom, you followed me and laid down next to me. You waited for me to finish, absolutely refusing to leave me.

On my bad days you cuddled up in bed with me, resting your head on my chest and giving me an occasional moan to let me know that you were there and you knew how I felt. The thing was, you did know my pain, because you had your own pain with hip dysplasia and spondylosis. There we were, two peas in a pod, curled up and miserable together. But the funny thing was that, with each other to lean on, I think we made the other's pain not seem so bad.

Whenever I left the house, I looked forward to returning, knowing that I would see your face in the front window waiting anxiously for me. I don't know who was more excited to see whom. It was always like a family reunion when I returned, even if it had only been a few moments since we had seen each other last. I loved our walks to the park and how you would encourage me to get out of bed and take you, even on those days when I was depressed and sad because of my failing health.

Then one of the hardest things happened to me last year. My mom suddenly passed away and I felt the most unimaginable grief. Once again you were able to comfort me in a way that no one else could. Thank you for the comfort you gave me, staying beside me and gently licking away my tears.

I watched as you fought cancer and I did all I could do to comfort you. But the funny thing is, as usual, you were the one doing the comforting. On the trip home from the vet when we found out that your cancer was back, despite chemotherapy, I cried and cried. As the grief overwhelmed me, there you were. You put your head on my shoulder and let out your trademark moan to let me know that everything was going to be okay.

I don't think it's fair that you spent your life caring for me, and it was all I could do to care for you in your final days. I knew I'd never be ready to let you go. But after all the gifts you gave to me, the kindest thing I could give you in return was to end your suffering and to say goodbye.

Thank you, Kino, for being my guardian, my comforter, my caretaker, my partner, my constant companion and my best friend. Thank you for sharing your life with me and loving me. I will miss you, my Pretty Princess. You will always have a treasured place in my heart.

Written by Michelle Uretsky, Kingwood, Texas.

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