Our “pound puppy of 2003 is now 14. We got her after the series of fires that raged over San Diego at the time. Lost and scared as she looked up at me from her cage at the animal shelter, I knew she was the dog for us, and she has been a sweet companion ever since. I didn’t know what to name her and tried several but they didn’t fit. One day I looked at her and said, “Here, Chessie!” and she came. Not sure where the name came from, but it fits her. It is a sad fact of life that we outlive our canine companions. My first dog was Mickey, a mutt I got at the pound in Coronado when I was in college. There have been a succession of them over the years, each one leaving their mark on my life. While my books have mostly been fiction, I think I could write a book on dog stories as I look back over the years. Funny events, sad events and lots of nostalgia. Aren’t we all touched by stories about dogs? There was one that greatly touched me years ago. A big Newfoundland had become attached to the youngest of a neighbor’s three daughters. One day, while playing outside in the snow, the two older girls decided to go in the house. The youngest had slid into a depression in the snow and couldn’t get out. Her cries, unheard over the wind by her family, were heard by the dog who scratched at the door to go outside. She found the frightened young girl, padded around the indentation several times to pack down the snow and then planted her huge feet and lowered her head so the girl could grab her collar. After pulling the girl out, and leading her to her home, the dog returned to her own home and settled by the fire. The young girl told her family what the dog had done and the dog received a hero’s award. They truly are our best friends!