My husband, King holding my hand, December 2000.
Here is a picture that captures him really well.
I've been friends with Chrystal since I was 14, and friends with King since then as well. Since we met, he's been one of my favorite animals in the world. He was a barker, and intimidated many people who came to their house, but he always knew that my arrival meant playtime. As soon as I came in and he realized it was me, he would run and get a toy, so we could play our game. Many hours of my life were spent chasing King around the furniture in their living room, around the kitchen, through the hallways, or him chasing me through these same places. A prom dress or high heels never stopped our game, though I guess they slowed it down quite a bit. On the run, I would participate in conversations our human friends were having in the kitchen, while King and I did our laps. I called him my husband, and I always wished that I could live with him. I loved King as much as I love my own pets.
Things weren't always that great, sometimes he puked on Chrystal's floor during a sleepover. More seriously, he had a liver disease that wasted him away to skin and bones at one point, but he was always happy to be played with or talked to. It was scary to see him so frail, but he recovered and filled out again. He outlived his siblings (who were owned by other members of Chrystal's family), but he was starting to have the hip problems that large purebred dogs almost invariably develop. Luckily, Chrystal's father (who was clearly and touchingly as devoted to King as King was to him) didn't have to make the hard decisions that we feared were coming in the near future, decisions regarding King's quality of life versus the amount of pain his hips would eventually give him. King died last night while everyone was sleeping, probably of bloat, which is a problem common to German Shepards.
Please keep Chrystal and her family (especially her father) in your thoughts today.