We met outside in the grass on a beautiful sunny day with your family gathered around–such a handsome black Lab. Cancer had spread from your nose, swelling your face and making it hard for you to breathe. You reminded me so much of my own Roly, who I’d lost when she was 12. Your paws were still wet and sandy from the celebration of the life your family gave you that morning. They took you to swim, to play in the water, to drive around in Dad’s pickup truck like you always loved to do. Your day had been filled with all the things that brought you joy from the time you were a pup. For 12 years, they loved you, and they always will. It hurt us all so much to say goodbye.

We met on your living room floor. The top ½ of you looked like a beagle, and the bottom ½ a dachshund, just like your Dad described. Your tail wagged so fast and so hard to say hello. Then you wandered from the living room into the hallway, walking very gingerly on your short little legs that no longer worked as they did years ago. You seemed confused about where you were though you were home with the people who loved you so dearly. Your Dad gently picked you up and brought you to your bed. You snuggled in as he pet you softly to show his love for you.

We met in your driveway during a break in the rain. Your family said you didn’t want to go back inside as you knew outside was where you were meant to stay. You were right—the fresh air, the sun, and even the rain seemed to bring you peace. You’d had a beautiful life, running back and forth between 2 homes, having dinner promptly at 3 pm at one, then spending the night at the other home. You’d had pictures with Santa, been sprayed by skunks, and knew only love and kindness in your life.

We met in the laundry room. You’d been absolutely fine until a few days before when the bloodwork showed your kidneys were no longer working. Your bright green eyes told us how much you wanted to stay, how wrong it was that your body gave up when you still had so much will to be here. Incredibly strong, you tried to reach your litter box, but your body couldn’t get there. Your Mom helped settle you back into the comfort of the cozy pillows she’d placed around the room for you. She held your head, stroked your ears, and thanked you for being a part of her life and the life of her now-grown child.

We met outside on your front lawn. Your mom, your dad, and your human brother were there to show their love for you. In many ways, you were a little miracle—so many medical obstacles you’d overcome. Your mom provided you with tender nursing care to help you move, to help you enjoy life for many more years than anyone thought possible. She knew she’d done all for you, yet she wanted very much for you to continue to be with them, but your body was hurting with a pain that could no longer be controlled. A teeny tiny needle, yet you cried as if to tell me even that was too much for you now. You’d been incredibly strong for so long fighting these physical battles. It was now time to rest.

We met as you ate roasted chicken at the dining room table. You stood with your back legs in the chair and your front paws placed on the newspaper that served as a placemat. A type of cancer was taking your life. You’d been to the ER recently, and lifesaving measures helped you make it back home—back to where your sister, your littermate, who was a deep shiny black cat just like you, watched you carefully, curiously. The toys you’d so recently played with were all about the house. Your home was so welcoming, and I knew that the toys would remind your mom of the good times with you. We carried you upstairs so that you could transition quietly from this life. Your mom held you in her lap and told me how she’d adopted you and your sister as a bonded adult pair. That takes a special person to open their heart to 2 kitties at the same time. You’ll be deeply missed by your human and animal families.

We met on the kitchen floor as you lay on a bed layered in blankets to keep you comfortable. Mammary cancer had spread first to your lungs and now to one of your front legs. Even with medication, it was too hard for you to get up, and you no longer wanted to eat. As you drifted to sleep, your mom spooned with you, and your dad patted your head. Other family members came and held your face to theirs while weeping silently with the pain of letting you go. They spoke tender words to you and reminded you of all the fun times you’d had together. You swam in rivers and in the ocean. You’d even kayaked. To look at your Rottweiler exterior, people could easily be afraid of your size, but you could tell in your eyes that you had a heart of gold. Your family helped you live life to the fullest, but their hearts are heavy with the pain that comes with losing someone we love so dearly.

We met on your living room floor. You were a chocolate Lab who’d had two rides in police cars and who’d been blamed for leaving a mess in a neighbor’s garage. Turns out it was a raccoon who’d ransacked the garage, but you’d fully earned the police car rides by running off and having yourself a super fun time. You loved being a dog with space to run and play and get into trouble. Your family let you be 100% you. One of your legs had been lost a long time ago. Most likely, it was an animal trap in the woods that hurt you, but even after losing that leg, nothing slowed you down in your 15 years. Your family cared for you so tenderly through all that your body had been through. I could tell how much you wanted to be strong for them, to help them through the pain of losing you.