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 is being published again today as the first of a three-part series of essays Rutz has written about his dogs.

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 is being published again today as the first of a three-part series of essays Rutz has written about his dogs.

deansandy1.jpg Sandy and I are pictured a few weeks after I adopted her from the Seattle Interbay shelter in 1996. Photo by Don Preisler

A dog is typically euthanized with two shots: the first puts the animal to sleep and the second stops its heart.

The veterinarian had just given Sandy the first shot when I panicked. It was all suddenly real. I was about to lose my best friend. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

“We only have a few moments left together, and I need to tell you something,” I said as I pulled her close and whispered in her ear,”I love you.”

And almost as quickly she was gone.

Sandy and I were meant to be together.

I never intended to adopt a dog. But another photographer at the Times, Betty Udesen, had rescued a stray and delivered him to the Seattle Interbay shelter in 1996. Knowing my affinity for dogs, she begged me to adopt him.

Why not? I had just bought my first home. But by the time I got to the shelter his owners had reclaimed him.

What the heck, I’ll get a dog anyway, I said to myself. And I looked through the kennels for a good fit.

Being a guy, I thought I needed a dog that fit my guy-ness. Maybe a German shepherd or a Labrador or a cattle dog. I looked at every dog they had.

I finally found an Aussie that I thought had possibilities. But there was something odd about that dog — a behavioral problem — but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

“Oh, it’s just because it’s been in the kennel,” my girlfriend at the time said.

No, there was something else. Let me pull out another dog and I’ll show you what I mean.

I walked to another kennel that held two young dogs, and I asked handlers to let me take out the German shepherd puppy.