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Missy the Wonderdog really could work cows – for the most part. (Katy Kassian/Special to Agweek)

Not easy saying goodbye to Missy the Wonderdog

Losing a pet can be very hard. Most of us are as attached to our pets as we are to our kids; sometimes it may even seem like more.

Missy the Wonderdog was our rescue pup. She was born while a rescue rig was traveling down the highway, taking her mama from a puppy mill that had gotten out of control to the safety of a no-kill shelter.

In the decade since, many of our readers have followed Missy's adventures as a cow dog, business dog, chicken-herder extraordinaire, teacher, companion, garden guard, door stop, protector, and unofficial spokes-dog for Shop Small Saturday, championing small businesses everywhere.

Katy Kassian with her beloved Missy the Wonderdog.When Missy first came home, Big Papa said "NO DOGS IN THE HOUSE."

Ever. Period.

Then Missy turned those great big beautiful brown eyes on him, and it became, "In the mud room ONLY." Which transitioned into him playing dolly with her on the kitchen floor. After all, it was winter time, and she was just a puppy ... and that was the ONLY time she was allowed in. (Wink, wink.)

Missy was supposed to be a cattle dog. And she was — sort of. She would drink from bottles just like a calf, she ate hay and grain just like the "big girls," followed them everywhere, and slept in the "roundy-rounds" (round bales) with the calves. She even took occasional dips in the watering trough.

Don't get me wrong — Missy could herd cattle. Right up till there was gate or barn door in sight. Then she'd sit in front of it!

So, technically Missy was a cattle dog. Just not the kind Big Papa had in mind.

I may or may not have let Missy in from time to time. Mostly I liked having her in the house during the times Big Papa worked away from the farm overnight. Even though he laughed, I felt safer with her around. I just knew she would go "all Cujo" on anyone who tried to hurt me. (He had his doubts that she was capable of such behavior.)

Missy was a part of our family. She was a constant companion, always happy to just sit nearby and offer wags and doggie smiles. And yes, the kids accused me more than once of treating her better than I did them. (She never talked back or held her hand out...)

This year Missy slowed down. We'd go for walks and she'd stop to rest. I thought it was just because she was a little on the fluffy side after retiring from full-time chicken and cow herding.

Missy the Wonderdog was an unofficial spokes-dog for Shop Small Saturday, championing small businesses everywhere.As it turned out, she had cancer. For love of us, Missy the Wonderdog concealed her pain and sickness for a long time.

The decision to let her cross the Rainbow Bridge was a heart-wrenching one. We decided we'd do what we had to, but not until she couldn't do "her job" anymore.

Missy kept her doggie dignity. As long as she was still walking out to the coop for a chicken check, all was good.

Until the day came when she looked at me and let me know, in her own way, that it was "time."

We had made arrangements with our vet to come out to the house and help her across the Rainbow Bridge, surrounded by her friends (cats and chicks) and family (Big Papa and me). Holding on to her favorite dolly and snuggled on her blankie, she slipped peacefully away.

"And when my time on earth is done,

And at heaven's gate I'm near,

I don't want any harps and horns,

Just happy barks to hear."