Remembering Sheriff

When we moved to Germany I didn’t want a dog. We planned to travel, my kids were little and dogs are an expensive hobby.

Then one day I woke up and knew: someone was missing. I’d say I was baby hungry but I definitely didn’t want to do that again. Jason and the kids had been talking about getting another dog and I knew it was time. The knowledge…irritated me.

Like a good steward I began the research process and after nearly a month we brought home our big, fluffy, curly brown puppy–a five-month-old Flatdoodle named “Sharif” (shar-eef) Jason took one look at his darling brown mustache and renamed him Sheriff because, “He’s going to be an American dog now.” It was…love. For all of us. At five months he was house trained, leash trained, and instinctively ready to step into his role and manage the children. That was in March of 2012.


Meeting Sheriff, 16 weeks


First day home

I remember when he was about a year old and still sleeping in a crate in the boys room. One time in the middle of the night he started barking like mad. I was so tired and irritated I came down and yelled at him. Before heading back I stopped over at the boys…Rex was burning up with fever. Sheriff knew.

He was the Nana to my John and Michael. Babies, puppies, guinea pigs–babysitting was his favorite thing to do.

Our children loved this dog. Georgia has spent most of her life with Puppy at her side. The hours–HOURS–the girls have spent crawling and riding and climbing and playing with that dog. Georgia went through a biting phase (for like a year and a half) where she’d jump on him when he was sleeping and bite him. He never flinched. Total honesty? I still catch her biting him sometimes and she’s almost five. He loves her, she’s his baby and he’s her “little brother.”

Moving to Las Vegas last year was difficult. Actually it was one of the toughest things we’ve done. We came to a new house and spent six weeks without furniture or household goods, Jason left us for a four month work assignment, and my kids had no friends.

Except Sheriff. Always Sheriff. Always ready to wear a princess tutu or take an early morning walk with Harrison in the lonely Nevada fall weather, always at my side or laying on my feet (or my laundry piles) or silently lurking in the kitchen for a little snack. If the kids started to fight, he was right in the middle to break them up. If I started to yell and lose my temper, he’d get right in my face, jump up with his massive paws on my shoulders, and tell me to cool it. You’ve never seen anything like it. In total honesty, he’s probably the reason I didn’t spank kids, Sheriff never would have allowed it. cuddle sheriff2 cuddle sheriff1 sheriff family6 sheriff1 IMG_3646 IMG_3645


Nights were the hardest last fall without Jason but I never felt frightened. My boy slept at the top of the stairs and frequently prowled the house at night. On more than one occasion I woke to the sound of his deep, rip-your-throat-out growling, stationed at the front door and ready to kill whatever or whoever dared to linger too long on the sidewalk in front of our house. When we first moved in we had a number of repairmen come through to work on appliances. He was friendly to almost all of them, except one. One fellow had been here nearly an hour (seemed perfectly normal) and came in to talk to me. Sheriff sat stiffly pressed against my legs and halfway through the conversation he launched himself at the man and almost bit the dude’s hand before I pulled him back.

Dogs know. They always know.

Watching Harrison struggle through sixth grade without a single school friend last year was brutal, but on his hardest days he’d run into the house to his dog, and the two of them would disappear into his room during homework, inseparable. Once Jason returned Sheriff resumed his sleeping place back on the end of Harrison’s bed. Boys and dogs. And not just Harry, Rex’s teachers know more about Sheriff than they do about Rex. sheriff family5 sheriff family4

Last week we took our family to Texas for a wonderful week of cousin fun with two of Jason’s sisters and their families. Sheriff stayed with one of his sisters–they have a new little dog named Daisy. Cousins for everyone.

Not everyone likes dogs. My brother-in-law isn’t a dog fan and hasn’t liked their dog at all. In fact, she sleeps in a crate in the back room. Sheriff moved in for a week and the moment he saw Philip he loved him. Always sat by him, slept next to his side of the bed, quietly by his side…no one can resist Sheriff’s affection. It’s non-invasive and gentle and totally unconditional.

photo-4Our last day in Texas was Rex’s birthday party. That silly dog wore a party hat around the house for half an hour for Rex. We decided spur of the moment to head to the water park. –I’m sorry, I have to write about it. I have to say it out loud. — We were just in a rush…he jumped in one of the cars…no one knew he was in the back and we left for the water park. It was too hot…I can’t. I can’t say it.

A few weeks ago a little boy here in Henderson died really tragically. It was a Mormon family and Jason felt really strongly like we needed to take all our kids and attend the services. We kept asking ourselves, what’s going to happen? Who are we going to lose? Why are we so compelled to do this and teach this right now? I am so thankful that our family was prepared for this.

We felt immediately like this was, indeed, part of a much larger plan. The night of the accident, my sweet brother in law went into his home after we got back from the Vet and he took down that dog crate. Their dog will never be shut out of their family again.

Sheriff always had that kind of impact, people who don’t like dogs wanted to keep him forever.

I want you to know that I have incredible angels. I have been stopped time and again with reminders to turn off a stove, or get a kid out of a car seat, things that would have brought about tragic results if unattended to. Both Jason and I feel like Sheriff came to our family for a reason. He got us through this move, he saved my sweet boy from total loneliness, he protected us when Jason was gone, he loved us constantly and quietly and with no strings attached.

In the wake of this tragic loss we were (divinely?) led to what is about to become the new baby of our family. Duchess is a St. Berdoodle and will be coming home to stay on July 11th. We drove from Albuquerque to Riverside, CA in one day so we could pick her out as a family.

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To those of you who don’t want to get a dog because they’re too much work or you’ll get too attached or they shed (ours didn’t), I hope you change your mind. A dog is the glue that keeps a family together. It’s the one member who always loves everyone else all the time.

We have found great comfort and peace in our knowledge that Heaven is for real. As crazy at it sounds, we’ve seen huge blessings in our life the past few days and felt honored to have loved this noble animal. Heavenly Father must have needed him home pretty badly to take him from our arms. We’re hoping there’s a boy up there who could really use a dog to love.

Don’t rest Sheriff, play and swim and we’ll see you on the other side. IMG_3395



  1. Oh Annie… I’m so sorry! I know how much you loved him. Beautiful tribute.

  2. I’m so sorry. What a tragedy! I hope the time till July 11 goes very quickly, although no dog can replace sheriff.

  3. My heart is breaking for you even as I sob. Sheriff sounds like he was just exactly who was needed in your family even if it was for a shorter time than you thought. Yes, I do believe all dogs (& cats, etc) go to Heaven & somewhere there’s a child waiting patiently for his/her family who just got a wonderful companion to wait with. Much love to you & your family

  4. Angela Hunter says:

    What a beautiful tribute. It’s rare to find a good friend like that. Enjoy building new friendships and memories.

  5. I’m so sorry you lost your sweet doggy. You had such a special one. This was such a nice post about him. I’m sobbing too!! Glad you got a new member in your family. Good for you guys! Much love!

  6. girlsmama says:

    My deepest, deepest sympathies. Our fur family members are so special to us. We wish you peace and comfort as you remember Sheriff, and joy as you welcome your new family member.