When I was a child growing up in Hawaii, I dreamt of being a writer. My father, who was the most encouraging and supportive person in my life said, “You can do whatever you want! Just believe in yourself and you can do it.” He was my rock! He always was true to himself and was a dancer in Vaudeville and a successful restauranteur before he returned to Hawaii and married my mother. Unfortunately, he succumbed to cancer when I was eight and my idyllic world came crashing down around me. I retreated into myself, lonely and isolated, without siblings or friends who buoyed me up like my dad.

A couple of years went by and my mom got me a puppy, hoping a pet would coax me out of my lingering sadness. My puppy was the joy of my life, my best friend, and confidante. Because of him, my love for dogs grew and grew. From that time, I just knew my life would never be complete without a dog.

I had a few more dogs over the years, but I’d never met a dog like Duffy. All the dogs we’d had before were mutts—in Hawaii, we called them poi dogs. They were great house pets who enjoyed just being around us. They were part of the family. Duffy, on the other hand, was an Australian Shepherd, a herding dog. These dogs have stamina to burn, are highly intelligent, and definitely need a job or they’ll turn your life upside down. He definitely was not a lap dog, or a congenial little house pet. My ignorance of the breed at that time was my undoing.