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Rescue dog: Albie stretches the boundaries of human love

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Courtesy of the Zheutlin family

(Read caption) Rescue dog Albie has grown to be an irreplaceable member of the Zheutlin family. Here, Noah Zheutlin hugs the lovable golden retriever-Lab mix.

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Raising children can sometimes be a slog; tantrums, sleepless nights, runny noses, dirty diapers, spilled milk and long car trips to visit Grandma and Grandpa can test even the most patient of parents.

But parenthood also has sublime, blissful moments. Never did I feel more at peace, more content, more important or more in tune with the universe than when one of my boys would fall asleep with his head on my chest. Sometimes, exhausted myself, I’d fall asleep, too. But mostly I just lay there, still as could be, looking out the window or at the ceiling and feeling a connection not only with the little boy so dependent on me, but with something bigger, something I’m not even sure I can identify.

My boys are 22 and 17 now, so it’s been a while since I had one of those magical moments, but I came very close the other day. It happened when Albie, our half golden retriever, half yellow Lab, with us almost five months now, laid down beside me on the narrow window seat in our living room. I was ready for a nap, but Albie, as always, was watching intently for the squirrels that dart around our yard and up and through the trees. He started out very alert, eyes following the squirrels intently, ears perked up, head erect. But slowly, he began to tire. His eyes started to close ever so slightly until he eventually succumbed, let out a long sigh, and brought his head gently down onto my chest and fell asleep.

You might think I was just comforting him, but really we were comforting one another. And as he slept came a feeling very much like the one I would have when the boys napped with their heads on my chest or shoulder: That we were somehow meant to be together, delivered to one another to share moments of serenity like this one.

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