As the editor of a newspaper, it's my sincere hope that our readers soak in everything we put into each edition of our paper. Hopefully you learn something or hopefully we can make you smile.

In the case of the centerpiece story in Friday's N-D, I know the latter was the case for me.

That story was about Andy, a Golden Retriever from Chesterton who was honored at Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City this past week for, perhaps, saving the life of a neighbor who had fallen outside.

As the story goes, Andy was outside answering nature's call when he somehow got his 118-pound frame to jump over a four-foot fence (that even has spikes on the top of it) to be by the neighbor's side, alerting his own people that someone was in trouble.

As someone who has a shepherd mix at home with a similar weight, I'm not quite sure how Andy made that leap. As sweet as our Bailey is (and she is a hall-of-fame sweetheart), she'd be much more likely to go through a four-foot fence than over one.

The story, though, served as reminder of how truly amazing canines can be. We use them for everything from sniffing out drugs and landmines to being a companion to someone in need of one. It's a truly remarkable, versatile animal.

Last year, you may or may not recall that I wrote in this space about our white shepherd, Jack, who died suddenly and unexpectedly before reaching his eighth birthday. My wife and I were crushed by the loss. Jack was a special dog and we continue to miss him every single day.

Since then, my wife and I have had fairly frequent discussions about adding another member to our family. The timing just never felt right. Plus, Bailey is blind and has an arthritichip so any new addition would have to fit in well with her.

Last weekend, we made the decision to bring a new dog into our home. He was adopted from the Humane Society in South Bend (we love the Humane Society here, too, but saw on the website the perfect animal). His name is Rocko, he's a six-year-old Boxer and he's awesome.

He's remarkably well-mannered, smart and cuddly, though his appearance might lead you to believe otherwise.

In just about a week, he's enriched our lives more than we could possibly have expected. We'll forever miss Jack, but Rocko has now found a place in our hearts.

I write this not to give you a bleeding-heart plea to adopt an animal you don't want or need (though if you're so inclined, the Humane Society has plenty of adoptable animals ready and waiting for you), rather just to draw attention to the nature of an animal that I think a lot of us probably take for granted.

In Chesterton, there's a person who may not be alive were it not for a furry neighbor. At least in our house, there are also two hearts that might be a bit less full without our new buddy.

Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at aparkhouse@thenewsdispatch.com or 1-219-214-4170.

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