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  • Banner was my wife's family dog for 10 years. Before I first met the family, Lauren warned me that Banner was afraid of men. She told me he would run up to the top of the stairs and bark down at the door before a person even entered the house. "It's my house, but I'm gonna tell you from up here, where it's safe."

    When I first arrived at the Turken house with Lauren in December 2004, Banner didn't bark. He came to the door to greet us. He let me walk right up to him. I bent down to his level and gave him my open palms to smell. Banner let me pet his head and scratch his ears. I felt an instant bond between us. After that, we were best buds. Banner approved of me, and everyone took notice. I had gained entrance into the family through the eyes of a dog.

    That week, Banner followed me around. And for the next two plus years, whenever I came to visit in Miami Beach, Banner and I would go on walks together. We'd lay on the floor together. We'd wash the cars together. Whatever I could do to spend time with him was fine by me.

    In 2006 we discovered Banner had cancer. He lost much of his trademark enthusiasm, often simply keeping to his favorite spots on the kitchen floor. I ached for him. The last time I saw Banner, I pressed my forehead against his and kept it there for as long as it took me to silently will all of my love into him. I wanted him to know that I loved him so much, and that everything was going to be okay, so I just tried to transmit everything from my head into his.

    I hugged him. I told Banner I loved him.
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