When you have decided that it's time to bring a pet into your family, there are many options to get one. You can buy a puppy or kitten (sometimes spending hundreds of dollars), you can adopt a puppy or kitten, or you can adopt an adult animal. I am an enthusiastic advocate of the latter.

When I adopted Sydney, she had been picked up as a stray. She had no tags and no microchip. The shelter held her for 30 days, and nobody came to claim her.

As a stray, they could only guess her age, probably around 5 or 6 years old. And make a guess on her breed (which I later narrowed down).

She was a mystery.

She was also ridiculously cute and amazingly well behaved and sweet. But when most people learned her estimated age, they lost interest. When I went to the shelter "just to take a look" (yeah, right!), I was immediately drawn to the cute, lonely looking dog. In fact, here's Sydney at the shelter when I first saw her.

Sydney at the shelter - August 4, 2006 (Photo by Justin Louis)

I mean come on, how can you say no to that face?

So she came home with me.

Over the next 9 years, she became my very best friend. My most constant companion. My confidante.

I've always felt a responsibility as a parent of a former stray - to give her a better life than she had before.

I like to think that I did that to the best of my ability. Over the years, Sydney kind of became everyone's dog. Friends, family, even co-workers and listeners felt an affection for Syd. I don't think it's because of anything I did, I think it's because of the special dog that she was.

I had to say goodbye to her yesterday. I would say that it was a hard decision, but honestly I am confident in knowing that it was the right thing to do. The process was incredibly difficult, but the decision to release her from the pain and suffering was an easy decision to make.

I hope that, in the end, the final act that I did for her was just another way of giving her the love, support, comfort, and compassion that she always gave to me.

Next time you're thinking of adopting a pet, please consider an adult rescue. The love that you will get will be immeasurable.

Justin and Sydney - July 1, 2015

In loving memory of Sydney
??? - 7/6/15