Cornbread, my yellow lab-mix, was one of the best dogs that ever lived. I'm a veterinary technician and I work with a lot of great dogs, but "Corny" was really one-of-a-kind. While in my profession, we are accustomed to the grief of owners who loved their special pets, nonetheless I was overwhelmed by the loss of my own wonderful dog.

Cornbread entered our lives Christmas, 1985, as a small puppy, and passed July, 1999 as a beloved member of our family. We scattered some of her ashes at a favorite lake of hers, some at a tide pool where she played with her canine buddies, and some at the most beautiful spot we could find on the island of Kauai, overlooking the ocean at the Kilauea Lighthouse, which is now a wildlife refuge and sanctuary. I've also kept some of her ashes, but I know she'll always live on in our hearts, our memories and our smiles. Here is the eulogy that I delivered at her memorial:

"I'm better at loving dogs than at writing prose. I feel that all dogs are special, but there are certain dogs that are so unique, so wondrous, that my heart swells when I think of them.

Cornbread, along with Asti (and later, my other doggy friends) taught me everything I know about love and kindness. I think my heart was scarred before that wonderful dog came into my life. I was hesitant to love anything too much. I was deadened. She warmed my heart, smoothed the harsh edges and made me whole again.

Dogs don't ask for much - a kind word, a happy tone in your voice, food, shelter from the cold and a loving touch. Most of all, they want your companionship. It's funny how dogs can teach us so much about "humanity". Maybe they should call it "caninity," because what she taught me about love, trust and loyalty is one of the most valuable lessons I have learned. Cornbread was my sentinel, always near me or in my room, my little guardian angel, my inspiration, my good-luck charm, my clown.

Cornbread, you touched many lives. For a scrappy little dog with a little pinhead, no neck, chicken legs and a pot belly, you sure became one of the most beautiful dogs we had ever seen. What lovely eyes you had, glowing with warmth and joy, and later with wisdom and trust.

I'm starting to get to that place where, when I think of you, instead of the hurt and grief of your passing, I smile because of the gratitude and privilege I feel for having had you in my life. I miss you so very much, but I know part of your spirit is with us and that you are guarding Doggy Heaven right now.

There will be no stone to mark where you lay: It is upon my heart that your life is engraved."

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