I have come to realize the best decision is sometimes the hardest one. My wife Maribeth and I had to make one today...for our beloved Pearl. She was a shepherd/pitbull mix I rescued from Squaw Island 13 years ago this past July.

Our Pearl 1999-2012 (Craig Matthews Photo)

We named the then-six-month-old puppy Pearl because she was found near the water (and also after my late grandmother). Pearl was a mess. Very sickly and near death. We took her to the SPCA serving Erie County in the event she was lost...sadly, but happily for us, no one claimed her. Or should I say, she claimed us! The SPCA nursed her back to health, and we brought her home, where she brought us love and joy for so many years.

That joy is still there in our memory, but clouded by the grief of having to make the tough decision after learning of an inoperable tumor in her abdomen that was growing very large and causing her great pain.  Sad story short, she licked my face until her last breath.  I cried my heart out...and I cried some more.

I write this not looking for sympathy, but to share in the pain that I know so many of you have felt. We have faced this numerous times before since we have had many cats, horses and another wonderful dog named Molly. Perhaps this post may help a bit for someone who soon will also need to make the decision to do what is best for their furry member of the family.

When we welcome an animal into our homes and hearts, it's a wonderful thing...but it's not about us, it's about them! And this posting is about our girl, our Pearl.  Always loved and now always missed.