By Randy Snyder

Many of you readers have dogs you cherish and love as they are part of the “family”. You probably love any dog that seems to “hang around” in highly visible places and does not have a permanent home or “caretaker”. This story is about a dog that fits the description of the latter. That dog, Warrior, passed away last December much to the dismay of many local residents, most emotionally, to the volunteers at the Rutherford County Humane Society Thrift Center on Buffalo Creek Road at the Buffalo Creek Plaza. Warrior had some health issues and was put to sleep at the choice of his owner on that day.34_2015-08-27 12.41.52

Much like the legendary SAM who was a larger than life part of Dalton’s General Store for many years, Warrior was the greeter to the patrons of the Thrift Store ever since it opened in its current location over three years ago. Lillian Rossow, the faithful and founding manager at the store was so distraught, she contacted me and asked me to write a tribute about Warrior. The photos express the sentiments of the employees, the owner and other shop keepers in the Plaza.

I interviewed Lil Rossow, asking her to share some memories of Warrior. It proved to be difficult as Lil broke down in tears throughout the interview. She showed me where Warrior marked his territory by putting his paw in freshly poured concrete on the curb of the shop. Autumn Zamzow, a supporter of the shop painted a stunning picture of Warrior which now adorns the wall of the shop.

He was the shop’s biggest “fan” as he showed up daily waiting for the shop to open, and did so faithfully for three years, even on the three days the shop was closed hoping someone would show up! Some locals came to the shop simply to see Warrior and gave him treats much to his pleasure. On sunny days he would “sun himself” in the middle of the parking lot and patrons of the shop had to drive around this trusty soul knowing that he felt safe in the shop’s environment. The volunteers provided shelter inside when it rained and even a blanket to keep him warm when the outside chill prevailed. Although no one was certain, the estimate of his age was 12 to 15 years.

34_2015-12-11 15.27.27Yesterday, the last day of 2015, “Dogs Lives Matter” took on an even stronger meaning for me and my wife, Barbie. Our dog, a Bull Terrier, named Anika, 13 years of age, had to be put out of her continuing pain and misery. She was our first dog we had together and loved together and mutually was the second most important being in our lives, outside our love for each other. We have enjoyed each other for 16 years and Anika was a big part of that enjoyment providing love and fulfillment for nearly 13 of those years. She ate with us, slept in our presence, spent her waking hours with us, traveled with us, shopped with us, including vacations, daily errands etc. Her death was traumatic, but the decision to end her life was the most humane thing we could do after her suffering from countless maladies, including heart problems, eye problems and three episodes that had the symptoms of strokes rendering her in a pathetic state of mind and almost immobile. It was the single hardest decision I have had to make in my lifetime. She personified providing love unconditionally and, if I may, was a prime example of my “paying it forward” article series as she brought joy, happiness, smiles and fun to almost everyone she encountered expecting nothing in return other than a pat or two.

Yes, all dog’s lives matter. Anika mattered so much that her passing has left a “vacuum” in our lives and a hole in our hearts. Anika, like Warrior will rest in peace and indeed, lived a life that mattered more than most can imagine.

Dog’s lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” — Agnes Sligh Turnbull