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Milestones in life come along and change your outlook on the world with fresh insight. Sometimes these events are welcoming. Others distracting. When I first moved out of my family house to attend college at age 18, there was a cardboard box of puppies outside the Westward Ho Market in Sherman Oaks. In that immediate moment I knew I had to have one to chaperone me into my continuum of life. This little female runt of the litter, of Alaskan Malamute/Husky mix, stole my heart and became my cherished companion until she went to doggie heaven at age 13.

During those days, which began the 1970s, there weren't any leash laws, crate training, or "no dogs allowed" restrictions. Yauna seemed to be instinctively trained, didn't wander off, and responded to the command of my voice as if we were one and the same.

There was nothing more enjoyable than driving down to the beach, watch her splash in and out of the ocean, then come and shake her sandy seaweed doggie scent onto my towel and shower me in happy doggie kisses.

Then there was the hot breath on the face during a night's sleep, with an upside down dog who often had a doggie dream, frantically flailing her feet as if running, while making quiet doggie yelps.

And need I mention the affection one feels when returning from a day away and your dog is anxiously waiting for you at the front door? Even on a rough day, a loving dog can give you an emotional cleansing. The bond between a dog and its owner is a perfectly unspeakable, non-verbal communication.

There's never been another dog for me and she remains as much in my heart now as she did then. And even though she is no longer a physical presence, she was a present that gave me the capacity to love in a different way.

—Andi Ostrowe