I've always had dogs. Dogs have always been a big part part of my family. With the joy also comes the tragedy... when it's time to say goodbye.

I remember 'Pepe' the Dachshund we had when I was kid living on an Army base in Germany. There was Poochie, the mutt we had when we moved back to Maine. We also enjoyed the company of her son 'Slim.' (Named because the puppy was so fat.) I had Dusty, the German Shepherd, Adidas, another mutt when I was in high school. There was Meatball, a collie my dad brought home because it had been found at his workplace. We also had 2 different litters of pups when I was a kid. If I remember right, we had 14 dogs in our house at one time.

When we had our first son, I wanted him to have a dog to grow up with. Well, that one, turned to two black lab sisters, Char and Coal. Then, there was Jack, our first Golden Retriever, that our kids all pitched in to buy themselves. Now, there's Brady, another Golden, who we fostered about 10 years.

There has been so much joy thanks to the four legged members of our family, but a lot of heartbreak, too.

Poochie ended up developing rabies. Dusty was stolen. Adidas was hit by a car. Char and Coal both passed from Cancer. Jack was dealing with a number of issues that made his life very painful to the end.

Maybe that's why I find this story so touching. Photographer Robyn Arouty chronicled the last day in the life of her black lab, Duke, that looks, and reminds me, so much of our Char and Coal.

Just beautiful! See the story in pictures at her blog.