I recently lost a dog. Not just any dog, Leo was my heart dog: THE dog that bonds, loves and understands you like no other ever did or ever will. The dog that sets the standard for all dogs to come.His death, while not a surprise, was a shock, just the same. He was sick with lymphoma for four months, during which time medication kept him active and happy. Until the day the cancer won. I felt like I was in a pool that quickly filled up with grief. It enveloped me in an undulating way that had me swimming in and out of a riptide of emotions, ranging from sadness to relief, from numbness to heartache. I couldn’t sleep at night and I couldn’t stay awake during the day. On some days I’d wallow; on others, I’d put on a strong front. I’d lay inert on the sofa; then I’d fill my days with activities. I tried to make myself feel better by visiting friends and family. I played soothing Native American flute music. I did a guided meditation through my grief. Nevertheless, five pounds quickly found its way to my mid-section. My face was puffy and sorrowful.The thought of getting another dog made me sick to my stomach. I was, quite simply, miserable. Then one day while volunteering at the shelter, I rather impulsively adopted a puppy. Refusing to commit to him emotionally at first, my plan was to perhaps train him and re-home him with one of my clients. But as the weeks passed, I came to realize that this new puppy, who I named Canyon, had a fabulous, loving temperament, was a joy to train, and rightly deserved a chance. I swam up to the surface, opened my eyes, and took a deep breath. The cinderblock in my chest that was holding me down, was gone.