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Since adopting her 4.5 years ago, Pearl and I have gone to the dog park downtown at least once each day, usually twice. At first she barked at dogs coming through the gate and would sometimes lunge at them until she had the chance to sniff them. During play time, Pearl was (and still is) an observer. She was known as the “referee”—barking orders to all the dogs playing.

The regular visitors have become a ‘family’ to Pearl and I, and we all have learned to know each other (dogs and humans). Pearl didn’t make eye contact or friends easily and one person commented that she “looks like she has the weight of the world on her shoulders.” One kind man (Bob) greeted Pearl quietly every day. After about a year of this, Bob said, “She looked at me in the eyes,” and from that day forward, Pearl has begun watching for him to come to the park, dancing around his legs and ushering him to his place at the picnic table.

Through all of my work with Pearl and in our life together, I have observed that Pearl is fierce in her love as well as in her protection. She bonds with humans after she is familiar with them. She is overcoming her deep fears little by little and has become a most delightful companion (and the subject of many of my paintings).

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