Merit was three months old when we met, and he very decidedly picked me to be his caretaker. I had come to the pet store specifically to see him out of the many puppies there, because a friend told me what an adorable guy he was. However, I had no intention of coming home with a puppy ! I was being laid off from my job within the month, and certainly didn’t need a pricey additional mouth to feed. This was but the first of a zillion times that Merit would simply exert the force of his will and order the world to his liking. Thus began the blessings of 13 1/2 years under Merit’s benevolent rule.

Merit was the most beautiful dog I had ever seen. He had the delicate build and prancing gait of a baby deer, with eyes that could see into your soul and beyond, all wrapped up in the command presence one would expect of Winston Churchill. He was picky about whom he chose to love, and treated those outside that circle with tolerant disregard. He was so smart that we had to start spelling trigger words like ‘w-a-l-k’ or go for a ‘r-i-d-e’ so as not to excite him prematurely. However he soon learned to recognize those words when we spelled them, too. Merit loved warmth in any form, and one of his favorite things was ‘Clean Laundry!’ When I would pull laundry out of the dryer and put on the bed for folding, he would dive in and wrap himself enthusiastically in hot clean clothes and settle in with a contented sigh.

It was during the last few years of his life when Merit showed us all that he had a heart to match his will and as big as Texas, too. He began to have spinal problems that became more severe over time. His mobility and comfort level diminished, but his happiness and joy and determination never flagged. He routinely did things he was physically not able to do, such as jumping on the couch. He just threw his heart up there and his body had no choice but to follow.

With his spine, his lungs and his heart all struggling to keep pace with his spirit, Merit’s little body finally failed him on the evening of November 6th, 2004. We could not help but feel relief in the midst of the terrible grief of his passing. Our brave little boy was no longer trapped in a body that was not cooperating with his spirit, and was free at last of his bonds of pain and age. He will be treasured in our memories always and stand as a shining example of the joy of life, and of bravery and grace in the face of hard times.

Thank you, my precious one, for the love and blessings you brought into our lives.

All our love,

Linda, Leslie, Frankie (Merit’s people), Otis, Emma and Penny(Merit’s brother and sisters).

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