My puppy, the dog I’ve had since my early twenties, is getting old. She’s graying around her face, has trouble getting down our back stairs, and her nose is no longer moist.
She’s thirteen now, but she’ll still pick up a toy when I walk in the house, drop it at my feet, and, I swear, smile at me.
When I was really sick, recovering from a kidney transplant and frequently became feverish with infection, she would begin to pace and pant hours before my temperature rose.
My mom got dizzy hanging Christmas lights one year and fell from a ladder. My dog was the first to her side, licking her face, rousing her from disorientation.
She falls sleep every night on the floor in my son’s room. Then moves into mine when I go to bed and sleeps right below me.
She barks at suspicious noises, but never more than a brief warning to let those of us on the inside feel safe, and warn those on the outside she’s in here protecting us.
She has brushed her soft face across mine, drying my tears on nights where the loss if my son is too much to bear.
I fear losing her, but I know that day will eventually come. And when it does, I imagine my sweet angel in Heaven will be there to greet her with her favorite treats and a new toy to fetch.