We got Woody from a shelter almost exactly 12 years ago. The shelter was doing an adoption event at a pet store; we saw him and decided he seemed like the dog for us. He was 2 1/2 at the time and we liked the idea of an adult dog. We took to each other right away, and it was definitely a good fit. He was a cocker spaniel/blue heeler mix (we think) and was full of energy. He used to do what I called "touch and goes": he'd run full speed from one end of the apartment to the other, dozens of times. I never knew where he got the energy but whenever we'd take him out he seemed like he could go on forever. He always had a smile on his face. It's hard to say that a dog is smiling, but you could see it on him.
He loved to ride in the car but hated motorcycles. When a cycle would pull up next to the car you'd think he was about to jump through the window. His love of riding in the car became a fun game for a while where I would let him jump into the backseat, close the door, walk around to the other side and let him out. He was so excited that he'd gotten to be in the car. It was just as good as going somewhere to him. When we first took him to the boat he was afraid of the sound of the motor and the motion. Eventually, and suddenly, he got over his fear of the boat and began to love it. He could watch the world go by on the boat, bark at seagulls, and try to psych out the geese on the water the paddle too close to the boat.
Woody had one very particular quirk that just added to the cuteness: when he was relaxed and happy the last 3/4" of his tongue would stick out between his teeth. It made him look a little like he should be riding the short bus, but it just meant that he was relaxed. In spite of looking stupid he was a really smart dog, and he knew how to use it. He could play people to get the attention he wanted, and in time became expert at it. Without fail every time we would encounter other people they would mistake him for a puppy. It wasn't only his energy, it was his happiness. You could just see on his face that he was the happiest dog, and even happier when people were giving him attention.
As he got older he never lost that puppy-like demeanor. He slowed down gradually over time, but his happiness continued to show through. We were asked about his age less often, but even at age 14 people were still asking if he was a puppy. We were able to take him more places because of him being a little more mellow and he just loved being out. His last big trip was to Oregon a few weeks ago and, even though I was in a different vehicle, I'm guessing he loved being in the car watching the world go by for that long.
Sadly, during his last few weeks he was clearly in pain. He didn't show it at first but it became eventually obvious. His puppiness still showed through even though he spent a lot of time sleeping. When we had to put him to sleep on Tuesday it seemed surreal to be doing that when he still had moments of being so full of life. That's the thing I'll remember most about him, that he was so full of life, and seemed to enjoy every moment of it. Putting him to sleep was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life, but he couldn't live in pain and there was no way to fix his problem. I almost couldn't bear to see him go, but was glad on some level that I could be here with him holding him during his last moments and send him on his way with love. As difficult as it as I had to be there for him, one of my best friends. For a 30 pound dog, he touched a lot of lives. I miss him.