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It’s been a rough week. If you’re an animal lover, you can relate. Our Boxer pup Marshall, who just turned two, lost his battle with kidney disease on Monday. Although we’ve known for more than a year that he would probably only live to be a few years old, we’re still crushed.

Marshall was a fighter his whole life. The runt of his litter, he had to do battle with the other puppies to nurse. Our friend Trudy - his first mom - bottle fed him to supplement what he was able to get on his own.

His name came from an unlikely source. There was a fire on our block his first night with us. (We were living in downtown Corsicana at the time.) Around four A.M. we were roused by a pounding on the door to our loft. A building four doors down was on fire. Houston and I gathered our dogs and a few essentials and met other neighbors on Beaton Street. As the morning went on, our puppy, wrapped in a towel to stay warm in the February chill, was passed from friend to friend coming to check on us.

While we had no fire or smoke damage, the experience led me to choose a fire related name. I ended up deciding on Marshall, drawing inspiration from the fire marshal and all the firefighters who worked to put out the blaze that early morning.

Marshall was always on the thinner side, but no one would’ve ever guessed he had a terminal illness. He was the dominant dog in our home and had a signature staccato bark that I’ll never forget. He walked with me to check on the glamping tents and loved meeting our guests.

I’ll forever be grateful his last seven months were lived on our farm. What could be better for a pup than to nap in the sunshine and play with farm dogs? He seemed to be thriving this fall. Then right around the new year we noticed he couldn’t keep up with the other dogs and was sleeping most of the time. He was still ready to eat, but had very little interest in anything else. He was hunched over and noticeably losing weight.

Marshall was a fighter till the end. Even through the weakness, he responded to my voice and ate a little each day. On Monday, though, we knew it was time. Houston lovingly carried him to the truck and then into the vet’s office. Our son McClendon was able to be there as well. With my voice in Marshall’s ear and McClendon massaging his face, he drifted off to sleep.

Marshall’s passing has left a void in our home and on our farm. We could never replace him. However, as I continue to grieve, I look with hope to a future with other dogs. It’s comforting to know that the same quizzical expression, the instinct to protect and the innate desire to be close to their human are shared traits that can be found in many sweet pups.

This piece first appeared in Sherry’s column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, in the January 28, 2023 edition of the Corsicana Daily Sun.

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