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I brought my adorable puppy Sheila home from the Seattle Animal Shelter when she was three months old. I wasn't really planning to get a dog, but when I went into her kennel and knelt down, she hopped into my lap like she'd been expecting me. The employee who processed the adoption told me that Sheila was the smartest dog in the place, and she was right. Over the years Sheila has kept an eye on things and let me know whenever anything was amiss - like the time her sister Ursie went out through our dormer window and was gaily trotting around on the roof. Sheila knew that just couldn't be right and barked fiercely until I let her lead me to the window.

Sheila's been a wonderful companion and family member for twelve years now, telling on other dogs, herding children back to their parents, and always being there for me. I believe that once she even saved me from bodily harm. One night, when Sheila was about two, we were out for a walk when she stopped in her tracks. I couldn't get her to move and I had no idea why. After about thirty seconds, a very agitated man came bursting out of an apartment building up ahead and began violently punching and kicking the air around him. If Sheila hadn't stopped and disobeyed my command to move on, we would have been right in his path. When we got home, I heaped lots of praise and love on her, as I always do when she saves the day. Her response was to run into the kitchen and bark at the treat jar. Sheila's a girl with priorities.

Seattle, WA

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