After a break-in at our house in 2006, when Connor was just six months old, we got Sadie Jo to be a comfort to me when Shawn worked nights.

On the floor sleeping beside my feet is one of the most special creatures I have ever known.

Her name is Sadie Jo, and she is our boxer.

After a break-in at our house in 2006, when Connor was just six months old, we got Sadie Jo to be a comfort to me when Shawn worked nights. She was two years old at the time and filled with life and love for every single human she met.

And she has met a lot of humans because she darted out of the fence every chance she got.

One time we met a police officer when we joined him at a traffic stop.

She broke out of the fence and ran straight to the road where he leaned over a car window. She stuck her nose right up in that cop’s business, and he flew straight into the air.

I was close behind her, with my hands flailing in the air while she attempted to jump into the open window and lick the perpetrator’s face.

“She’s nice, sir! She’s nice! I promise she’s nice!”

I barely got a wave in before we disappeared into the distance as Sadie Jo tried to catch up with a runner (she has always loved runners). I never knew if we got the guy out of a ticket or we just escalated the situation. I finally caught her by coaxing her into the car.

She loves rides.

With her tongue flapping in the wind and her ears pinned to the side of her face, Sadie Jo has lived every moment of her life just like she was riding shotgun on a sunny day.

We were supposed to start with a trial run when we first got Sadie Jo. Since I had a home daycare at the time, it was important that the dog we ended up with was gentle enough to be best buddies with two year olds, but intimidating enough to scare away big mean people.

And on that first day, she ran up the stairs and stood at the top for roughly four hours —absolutely terrified to come down. I wondered if she was ever coming down until I felt something behind me.

I turned to find the 60-pound boxer with a stuffed Mickey Mouse hanging out of her mouth like a cigarette. She offered it to me, like she was asking me to be friends.

I grabbed the toy and she gave a good-hearted growl and tugged until Mickey’s head popped right off. She ran in joyous circles around the stuffing, and my heart melted right there on the living room floor.

Sadie Jo served as the household population control officer for stuffed toys. She had a kill of the day, and no one was safe. She has decapitated Kermit the Frog and flattened all of Lighting McQueen’s tires.

Once Sadie Jo got it, she wasn’t going to let go.

And that’s where I am at right now.

Now 14 years old, she can’t walk without pain. Her bladder is failing. And I can see she is tired.

But I don’t want to let go.

She’s been so many things to so many people.

A best friend to at least six daycare kids who dragged her around the room and used her as a pillow at naptime.

And for me, she is my girl.

The one who has loved me at my absolute worst.

Who in a house full of rowdy boys, crawled on my lap when I needed someone to cuddle.

She never questioned my love for her, even on my busiest days when I walked right by her hopeful eyes, just asking for one little pet. And who let me weep into her fur the day we found out Dad had cancer.

Yesterday, she laid on the floor in her usual spot and couldn’t get back up. We knew it was coming for a while, but I didn’t want to let go.

Later today though, I will do just that. Because she deserves someone to love her enough to let her go even when it is hard. Even when it hurts.

She deserves that.

Goodbye my girl. Goodbye Sadie Jo.