She finds herself crying a lot lately.
Sitting on the sofa in the family room, she'll look down at the spot on the carpet where he loved to lie and watch her as she went about her writer's life,
and the tears begin to fall.
She misses his shaggy ruff and pricked ears,
the plumed tail and intelligent, gentle eyes;
the outstretched paw and playful "chuff" that he used to get her attention when she paid too much attention to that machine on her lap.
She cries because he was only 11; she doesn't understand why her time with him was so short. Collies live to 13, at least, don't they?
Maybe it was his size. At 125 pounds, he topped the scales for a male collie. Surely his wolf blood would have lengthened his lifespan, wouldn't it?
But it didn't.
It was his hips. They failed him, quickly and spectacularly. He went from leaping in and out of the van for daily walks in the woods and parks, to being unable to get up on his own.
She did not want to say good-bye yet. She wasn't ready to give him up, to be without her best buddy.
But she couldn't stand to hear him cry when he tried to get up; to watch him crawl towards the water bowl that she had placed next to him; to see him tremble on shakey legs after being helped into the yard.
She sobbed as she spoke with the doctor about coming to the house. She spent the last night lying on the couch, with her hand caressing his fur. In the morning she held back tears as his tail thumped a happy greeting to the women who had come to ease his passing.
She held him as he pulled back from the needle, and looked at her with those beautiful gold eyes. She held him as he slipped into unconsciousness; as the doctor listened for the heartbeat that was no longer there.
The guilt haunts her. What could she have done differently?
He was only 11....