It was early 1999 when the Big Red Dog made his appearance.  He was a young adult, about 2-3 yrs. old that wandered up and down the road for several days.  I put food & water in the front yard under the trees in the shade for him.
When I would get home from work at night, he'd be waiting for me with a bright doggie smile and many wags of his tail.
After about 3 days of this I just moved him to the backyard.
He was named Curly.   He was a Good Dog!
Curly would lie on the ground  next to Honey's feed tub and they would both have their noses in there munching away.  Honey seemed to enjoy his company at mealtime.  Curly loved carrots in his younger days and would steal them out of the bucket while you cut them up for the horses or when the horses dropped them on the ground.
He made visitors welcome (after they adjusted to his size).  He was comfotable around other animals and absolutely LOVED our Equine Vet.  Dr. Hoyme really liked Curly too!  One time Curly had followed Dr. Hoyme down the road after he had been here taking care of a sick horse.  I saw the vet's truck coming back into the property and he now had someone riding in the passenger seat.  I went out to see what was going on and realized it was Curly riding shotgun with Dr. Hoyme!  The vet told me I was lucky he brought Curly back because "He was a Good Dog" and he liked him.  But, he knew I'd be upset if I couldn't find the fuzzy guy later on.
During the summer months, Curly would snooze on the haystack in the shade while I finished my chores.
As time went on he became arthritic and just didn't move as quickly as he used to.  I worried about him getting accidentally stepped on by the horses when I wasn't looking.  So, as the years passed, and Curly slowed down, I didn't bring him out to the area where the horses were anymore because I was afraid he would get hurt.
He'd get his semi-annual haircut with the horse clippers to keep him cooler, spend time in the backyard chewing on hoof clippings, rolling in the grass, lying in the shade, monitoring feed deliveries, new horse arrivals, visitor arrivals/departures, and mail delivery.  When I would drive into the driveway he would be at the gate woof-woofing a hello and wagging his tail.
The years brought a dimness to his eyes, grey to his muzzle, a stiffness to his walk, worn down teeth, a lessening of his hearing...all the things that come to dogs with age.
He had a stroke and it affected his hind end.  It was tougher to get up to check on visitors, the mailman, etc.  But his shining spirit remained.  He always smiled, wagged his tail and was ready to go if I would just give him a bit more time to get his legs under him so he could get up.  A year or so later he experienced another smaller stroke which left him without much of his old OOMPH.  He spent a lot of time in the shade napping.  He was a GOOD Dog!
After 14 years of being graced by his presence, on July 20, 2013 I was able to give Curly the Final Gift.  His friend Dr. Hoyme came out and helped him cross the Rainbow Bridge.  Dr. Hoyme patted him on his fuzzy head and said "He was a Good Old Dog"
Thank you Curly for coming into my life.  I only hope that I can be the person you seemed to think I was.  My dear, loving friend, you were the best and I miss you.
He was the perfect gift from an unknown source.  He was the kind of dog that you could romp with, laugh at and with, stand in the rain or enjoy a breeze or watch butterflies.  We enjoyed morning coffee, listening to the birds and just being together for a moment or two in time. He was warm and affectionate without being overzealous and gave great nose rides without charging for them!  He was a constant in my life when other things were up and down.  He was just Curly every minute of the day, every week of the month, every month of the year.  He gave without expecting anything back, but he would revel in a pat on the head, a hug, an enouraging word, a soft treat or just a moment to smile with you while you laughed.
CURLY WAS A GOOD DOG!