The Navy was going to kill a group of dogs. That's the way I understood it when my father explained the situation to my mother. Previously, the naval base in Virginia Beach used German Shepherds as patrol companions for the Military Police, but the military cut funds for the program. "Put to sleep" was the phrase my father used, but even as a six year old, I knew it meant "kill."
There was a loophole for the K9's, however. Someone could adopt them. My mother's apprehension was quite evident. She did not like the idea that a retired attack dog would be around her children. Dad told her that he understood, but asked her to at least go and look the dogs over. My brother, sister, and I promised that if we got a pooch, we would feed it and take it out for walks. She looked at our pleading faces and reluctantly agreed, feeling sorry for them and their immanent demise.
When they arrived at the kennel, a group of dogs were lined up for their inspection. All were well behaved and sat at attention. My mom felt nervous around so many large German Shepherds, but felt safe as they were all restrained with leashes. Her eyes landed on a black and golden haired beauty named Tammy. As soon as my mother drew near to the dog, Tammy rose up, place her paws on my mom's shoulders, and licked her in the face. While some women would have found this gross, my mother immediately knew this was the dog for her. "It's the first thing that ever fell in love with me at first sight!" she exclaimed.
Tammy was adopted into our family and was our faithful companion for eight years. There's never been a dog quite like her. I often think about that day she met my mother and remember it as the day Tammy loved her way to life.