― In 2009, we lost our beloved dog, Duchess. I had no idea it could be so difficult to lose an animal. During the preceding six years she had become like a family member, as any pet owner will understand. ∙ Duchess was a mutt from the animal shelter. They told us she was about three years old, but we learned from the vet that she must have been at least six. A mix of ridgeback, beagle, American Staffordshire terrier, and perhaps Chinese shar pei, she was a California classic. ∙ She [...].