She was a vibrant presence in the household, a mischievous prankster quivering with life and expectation. Good natured, not a mean or aggressive bone in her body. Capable of boundless joy when she had the chance to run free, swim, chase a ball, or dig lustily in the mud.

And she was such a pretty dog. When we would pick her up after a few days away, I was always surprised again by how elegant she was.

Yes, she could be annoying…really annoying. Tales of her thievery were innumerable:  stolen gloves, greenbacks, important papers, anything that might provoke a chase. And there was the way she’d look at us when we wanted her to “come” – a look that clearly said, What’s in it for me? And the way she’d rip up my newly planted flowers as soon as I turned my back, just to provoke me. With her willful intelligence, she would have benefited from owners who had more commitment and skill to train her.

But she had a pretty good life anyway. And now I notice her absence constantly – little “Tosca moments” when I expect her to be here, and she isn’t.