Atticus started his public life in a garbage can. He was rescued from a garbage dumpster by someone with the City Animal Shelter in Sacramento. He was with at least one other puppy. He was black, fluffy, and liked to lick. No one was certain what type of breed he was. He went into foster care with the hope that someone would keep him.
We took him as a foster once for the weekend, but believed he was going to grow up to be a Newfoundland - much too big for a San Francisco condo. A week or two after that, we decided to take him one more time. That was all it took, of course. He was happy and licked everyone - we adopted him.
He grew quickly, and one day soon after adoption managed to break his right hind leg while his people were out. He went to the hospital and had a small bolt placed in his leg. While recovering from surgery, he managed to break out of his cage at the vet, climb the stairs, and wake the vet up by licking his hand in the middle of the night.
Atticus grew to be a black, beautiful dog. He had one ear that went upright, while the other ear went upright as well, but bent about half way up. He had a wonderful dog walker, Dave, who picked him up each day, walked him in San Francisco, and returned him home. He greeted us each day at the door when we came home with happiness that brought tears to my eyes.
When Atticus was about six, he suddenly lost his ability to balance and started falling over. He went through a grueling process of attempts at diagnosis, to no avail. He came near death. A new doctor suggested prednisone therapy, and within a few days, he was back. He stayed on the drug for months.
His life continued. He followed us camping, and hiking, and to cabins in the mountains. He stayed home during the day sitting on his bed looking out over the north side of Telegraph Hill, approving or not approving all visitors to the street.
He relapsed again about three years later, but came back after the same therapy. He has slowly declined since then, mostly due to arthritis and other ailments.
But he was always there, a constant sentinel and witness to my life. The last few years of his life he insisted on getting up on the bed early in the morning. We believed he never could make it up himself, so we always helped him. Of course, if we were out of the house, he would magically make it up onto the bed. He made it clear that he approved of my new circumstances.
Atticus grew ill and left us suddenly one night while we were out.
I love this dog with all my heart and soul.