After Reese died, my friend Krista came to my door. She threw her arms around me and cried, "I am so sorry." I don't mean she cried the words. I mean, she cried with me. Reese was only six years old when she died of autoimmune hemolytic anemia.
It was the perfect response. The only response, really. Krista knew that Reese was an incredible part of my life. She knew I had lost a piece of my self.
Reese wasn't just any dog. We found her in a local pet supply store that partnered with the local humane society to find homes for dogs no one wants. She was shy and frightened and there was a woman there who wasn't quite committed to taking her home.
She was nine months old, a lab/dalmatian mix, and she was silent. She was beautiful, and completely neurotic. I knew she was mine the second she sat at my feet, leaned into my legs, and looked up at me with her soulful brown eyes.
Reese did not bark. Ever. She was hyperactive, she shied from people and she was terrified of loud noises and men in hats, but she did not bark. I lived in an apartment, and my neighbors consistently asked, "how do you keep your dog quiet?" I always shrugged and said, "She just doesn't bark."
My son and I came home that night after canoeing with my fiance and his daughter, and I was exhausted. I put my son in his bed and told him how important and helpful his paddling was that day, doing that thing parents do. He was so tiny ... I always thought he looked like a turtle peeking out of its shell when he wore a life jacket. I walked Reese ... she didn't pull on me the way she normally would, probably because she knew she was bound for her crate for the night. I sent her to her "house" and put myself in bed.
My son was at the door in minutes ... "Can I sleep with you, momma?"
"Sure, baby. Come on."
We slept. My beautiful boy slept by my side, for the last time. Then Reese barked.