I swear that the people with the biggest, most generous hearts in the entire world are the ones who adopt shelter animals. Particularly the animals who have grown beyond that adorable how can you possibly resist me puppy/kitten phase. Even more so when you throw special needs animals into the mix. It seems my son and his wife are these kind of people. Soon after moving to the Seattle area in August 2011 they brought home a full grown American Eskimo dog and named her Captain Hammer. Also known as circus dogs, they are a Spitz breed that originated in Germany. American Eskimos are known for their intelligence and affectionate nature and make excellent guard dogs. Michael and Liz were aware that Hammer had some issues when they chose to adopt her. She suffered from separation anxiety and had food allergies. Hammer was going to need a greater degree of love and tending than your average dog to build trust and to help her overcome her abandonment issues from multiple placements that had not worked out. I met Hammer via Google talk sessions. It was clear she was a happy pet and was flourishing under their care. Just this afternoon I learned that I won't have the pleasure of meeting Hammer. After discovering a lump in one of her armpits she was taken in for evaluation. The lump was cancerous and removed along with several other tumors. She was recovering from surgery when complications arose that were severe enough that Michael and Liz chose to have her euthanized rather than undergo multiple treatments that were unlikely to save her or even allow her to return home with them. I believe it takes tremendous courage to make this choice when a beloved pet is very ill. Choosing a lesser degree of suffering for your pet over your desire to keep them in your life isn't an easy one. Losing a companion animal that has become a member of the family is very sad indeed. So their apartment is quiet tonight. Taking care of Hammer's special needs determined in a large part the day's schedule. They are currently in the process of buying a home, and one of the first things Michael was excited about was a yard, a whole fenced-in yard! for Hammer to play in. There will most definitely be more pets in their future. Because a generous heart is likely to remain so. And once you love a dog it seems life isn't quite complete without one.