Ralf is now 7 years old and while he still has a lot of energy and stamina, he is starting to show a little gray around the muzzle (kinda like me) and his rambunctious puppy years are definitely behind him. I know that he has a lot of life left, but I simply cannot stand the thought that he will one day be gone (of course, I still haven't finished reading the book Marley and Me because I know how it will end and I refuse to acknowledge it).
We purchased Mia a year after we adopted Ralf for the expressed purpose of mating the two of them. We absolutely loved Ralf and we wanted to experience the joy of having a litter of little ralfies around the house. While it is advisable for the female to wait until she is two before breeding, mother nature took over. No matter how hard we tried to keep them separated, somehow they got together and...well you know....all it took was once. Mia gave birth to a beautiful litter of 5 puppies: 4 males and 1 female - just shy of her first birthday. She was an amazing mother and her instincts were all perfect. We loved each one of those sweet pups as if we were going to keep them all, but unfortunately our house is simply not large enough. We did manage to find good, loving homes for them - and the subsequent 15 puppies over the next 2.5 years.
My first summer in the Master's program I got a phone call from Geoff: he had come home from dinner to find Mia unresponsive on the living room floor. She did not appear to have been in any distress, she just simply lay down in front of the bay window, closed her eyes, and passed away. I was heartbroken --- and still am. I never had the opportunity to tell Mia good-bye or thank her for being such a faithful friend.
We did not have a good picture of the two of them together, but Rachael was able to combine pictures and create this fantastic shot. It is as though the two of them together create a heart of love. And in a way, they did.