Editors note: Seattle Times photographer Dean Rutz wrote in December about losing his beloved Samoyed in a touching post titled, "Saying Goodbye to Sandy." It was published again Tuesday as the first of a three-part series of essays Rutz has written about his dogs. On Wednesday, Rutz wrote about Gracie's four months of bliss. Today,...

Editors note: Seattle Times photographer Dean Rutz wrote in December about losing his beloved Samoyed in a touching post titled, “Saying Goodbye to Sandy.” It was published again Tuesday as the first of a three-part series of essays Rutz has written about his dogs. On Wednesday, Rutz wrote about Gracie’s four months of bliss. Today, Rutz tells us what happened next for his family’s lone dog, Dillon.

gracie and gang christmas.jpg
The Rutz gang: For a brief time after Tucker died, our family numbered five again. Karen and myself, Gracie (left), Sandy (below) and Dillon. But it was a very short period. Within a few weeks of this picture being made – and six days apart – Gracie and Sandy would die.

Dillon had never lived without another dog a day in his life.

In early 2003, my girlfriend at the time thought we should get another dog to be a companion to us and Sandy, who had become lonely since we moved out of the city two years earlier.

Quite spontaneously, we drove to the shelter in downtown Everett to see what dogs might be available for adoption.

deandillionbabyIMG0050.jpgBaby Dillon: Twelve-weeks old and Dillon, right, was all ears. Photo by Dean Rutz

Near the front door, two tiny, 12-week-old puppies were huddled in the back of their kennel, seemingly afraid of their surroundings. The worker there told us the two siblings, a German Shepherd and Lab-mix, were part of a litter of eight. They were dropped at the shelter because the pair were not as gregarious and rambunctious as their littermates and, therefore, were less desirable for adoption.

A couple behind us were interested in the pair as well, so both dogs were placed in a room with all of us sitting on the floor, at opposite ends of the space. We let the two pups make the decision. One gravitated to us; the other to the couple.

An hour later both couples walked out with a puppy. We named ours Dillon. Dilly for short.

Dillon was apprehensive and shy, and his face looked so sad, even as a puppy. But he loved Sandy from the start, and it was clear she loved him.

She was patient with his playfulness and gave him cues on how to behave. She would let him mercilessly jump on her and wrestle, often rolling her over on her back and rolling her around. And when he got out of hand she let him know with a bark or a snarl – never hurting him but getting her point across.

This made Dillon easy to train. Any command we gave to big sister, little brother would mimic.