On a cold, January day in 2015, a dog named Mickey came into our Lakeland Animal Shelter as a stray. From the beginning, he was loving and sweet and terrified of going outside at night, an indication he was abandoned somewhere at night.

Our shelter has a resale boutique run by volunteers, and one of our favorite things to do is to bring a shelter dog to the shop for the day to visit and welcome customers. Mickey was a shoo-in for being a shop dog, because he loved everyone and everyone loved him.

The worst part of the dogs’ visitation to the shop was bringing them back to the shelter at the end of the work day. Ordinarily it wasn’t my job, but one day when Mickey visited, i had to return him to the shelter. I couldn’t put that sweet boy back in his kennel, but instead, decided to bring him home, just for the night, on a sleep-over.

Six years later, Mickey was still with us, joining our family with our other two rescue dogs. His sunny disposition, devotion, and ability to make us laugh and feel better were only a few of his wonderful qualities. With his wooly coat, he was soothing to pet and hold, and, unlike most other dogs, Mickey would look deep into your eyes with his own, human-like eyes. Food was his weakness, and he gobbled it up with joy. Mickey loved going for walks while being carried in a doggie backpack and was terrified of storms and fireworks. He snored like a buzz saw and followed me everywhere I went.

Mickey crossed the rainbow bridge last night. He was at home with us, and I think his passing was peaceful. There is no measure of how much he was loved and how much he will be missed.