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Diana wrote a reminder to all of us to remain vigilant around parking lots and ATM machines, even after the holidays, to be aware of possible kidnappers and other Bad Guys. [She's the author of Mark of the Demon and sequels--highly recommended].

Her advice reminded me of when I was young and living in Venice, a run-down suburb of Los Angeles, right on the beach.

I had a German Shepherd, obedience trained, that I took with me everywhere (he had his own bowl and blankie in the back of the station wagon).

When I had to go to an ATM, I would leave the passenger side car door open, "Sit. Stay." and he would perch on the very edge of the seat, leaning outward, ears and nose and eyes on alert, waiting for me to return. I used to wonder if some day he wouldn't lean too far forward and fall out, but he never did.

He was a wonderful dog, won many prizes for obedience in dog trials, and I miss him to this day. He was my protection--he went into the house first when we got home and checked it out while I waited on the stoop, and if I left him home, I knew by the happy greeting tail wags when I returned that there were no Bad Guys under the bed or in the closet or shower (shades of "Psycho").

My only worry was that if he found an intruder, Sam might bite him. And then be declared an aggressive dog and euthanized. L.A. is very unforgiving when it comes to aggressive dogs.

He did one day miscalculate. A stranger came to the screen door and knocked. Sam raced to the screen door to guard, slid on the newly waxed floor, broke right though the screen and onto the stoop because he couldn't stop.

I don't know who was more surprised--me, the stranger, or Sam. I told the stranger to freeze (which he did) and called a very embarrassed dog, "Sam, come" (which he did). Other than massive infusions of adrenaline all around, no harm to anyone.

Wonderful dog. I still miss him. Don't miss my husband, but I sure do miss that dog.

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