When we adopted Lilly from the Humane Society of Boulder Valley in October 2004, I harbored no visions of canine championships of any sort. Honestly, I didn’t know such options existed for shelter dogs.
But, I began looking into advanced dog training, including agility … and later other canine sports … in hopes of building her confidence and our bond.
Lilly thrived in her classes. She learned. She mastered. She worked hard.
I met great people, amazing dogs.
And, I bought into the dream.
In tales I shared, I explained why I accepted that Lilly never earned championship titles, despite her early promise in training and innate brilliance.
Ultimately, I hope that I delivered a bigger story of redemption, of a couple of underdogs who made good things happen … despite the regular intervention of real life, real grief.
So amid our so-called failures, I bestowed Lilly with the title Champion of My Heart because indeed that’s one she more than earned every day at my side.
Most times, in fact, Lilly was the professor and I was the student. Consider Lilly’s story as tales of earning a real-world PhD from the University of Dogs With Issues.
After January 2012, those issues took on new meaning. Lilly suffered terrible brain inflammation following a routine rabies vaccine. Our tale shifted a bit as a result, but we continued to share the important — and sometime painful details — of life between a couple of soul mates. A girl and her heart dog.
Lilly died December 17, 2013, after a 693-day fight for her life.