With a very heavy heart I write this memorial for ABR Joan Rivers/Annie, who crossed the Rainbow Bridge yesterday.

Unbelievably, Annie came to us as a Silverheart five years ago. Yes, five years ago. You see, Silverhearts are very special and she was an amazing Boxer in every way. Most Silverhearts don’t last five years. They are usually seriously ill and/or advanced in age. She might have had those issues, but tough, tenacious, determined, intelligent, silly, and stoic are all terms that described her in my conversations about living with Boxers, and living with Annie, in particular. I saw a note recently that said, “Most dogs have owners, my dog has “staff.” That describes my relationship with Annie. I was staff and I loved every minute of my time with her.

Most dogs let you know that it’s time to leave, but not Annie. She was determined to stay as long as possible — she loved her daddy that much. She loved me, but she lived for him. He called her “Puppy.” They were inseparable and there was no sport that she didn’t watch as long as he watched it too. She’s seen every Spurs game, Texas Rangers game, and every Cowboys game since she arrived in 2014. Her place was right on the couch next to daddy while he had his arm around her and she sat there keeping him company. She was my girl at feeding time and at bedtime and, in these last months, as I nursed her and tried to meet her needs, we had a ritual at bedtime of face washing, presentation of a water bowl, turning on a box fan, and ensuring that her blanket was adjusted so that she was comfortable and secure.

About two years ago, we thought (and our vet recommended) having her teeth cleaned and a lumpectomy at the same time. Annie made it through the surgery okay, but shortly after resting in a kennel and waking up, she had trouble breathing. The clinic workers bagged her and called us with an urgent call to let us know that she was dying. My husband said, “Not today” and I raced home to pick him up and we made our way to the clinic.

The moment we walked into the room where Annie was laying, bagged and assisted in breathing, she opened her eyes as soon as she heard his voice call out, “where is my puppy.” Over the course of two hours, she was able to breath on her own when she was extubated, she was able to get up, and she walked out to the car. Everyone in the clinic lined the hallways, cheering and crying as she triumphantly and somewhat indignantly left that place. She even stopped once to look over her shoulder and to give her famous withering look of disgust.

We are so proud that almost two years later, we continued to enjoy what we always called “bonus days.” Time marches on, however, and it was no longer enough to have staff and her daddy. Getting up and getting outside was painful and so hard, she waited as long as she could. She had tumors that had grown and a shortness of breath told a story that we just did not want to face. So, with a rib eye steak sendoff, we made the decision for our stoic baby girl and lovingly gave her a last ride to the place she triumphantly left that day about two years ago.

The entire staff waited for us and helped us through the end. I have long heard stories of Boxers having the hearts of a champion, being loyal to death, and I’ve seen them survive unthinkable tragedy and abuse. It’s all true, This is an incredible breed of dog, with boundless energy, loyalty, honor, and dignity. We will bring another Boxer in and soon. We talked about it on the way home. ABR does a wonderful job of matching dogs to homes and, when we are ready, we’ll be at adoption day. If you ever wonder about taking in a Silverheart, just do it. I promise you will never be sorry. They are just wonderful and they can surprise you. Annie surprised us with five wonderful years.