saying goodbye.

When I was growing up, we had a black toy poodle named Kurley. I still remember the day that Dad brought her home - she was just a tiny little bundle in his big arms and so terrified she was shaking. I wanted to name her Snowball, because I had a white stuffed dog named that, but Snowball is a pretty silly name for a black dog, so I was quickly out-voted. The name Kurley fit, because she was, and because that way she could share the same initials as my sisters and I.

Kurley was 18 years old when she died. By that time, she was pretty much blind, deaf, and so senile that she was going to the bathroom anywhere and everywhere. She had also been hit by car many years ago, and her bad leg was pretty much useless. When my parents finally made the decision to put her to sleep, I took her to the vet for the procedure. Even though that was more than 10 years, I still remember it very clearly. It was difficult, but she had lived a good, long life, and it was time.

So we grew up with one small dog, but somehow my sisters and I went a bit crazy when we moved out on our own. My brother is a big dog lover, too, and I have no doubt he'll have his share when he has his own home. I got Dakota as a puppy nine years ago, then adopted Harvey about a year after moving to Virginia Beach. Katie got Bailey just a few months before she married Mike, then she and Vince adopted Lexie three years ago, and finally they took in Zoey last spring, who turned out to be pregnant with a litter of 8 puppies (all of whom have now found a good home). Kelli got Barkley six years ago, then took Bella, one of Zoey's puppies. And my parents and Jon got Teddy six years ago. All of which means that if our entire family got together, including all of the dogs, and Vince's kids weren't there, the dogs would out-number the people. 

At least, that was true a month ago, but not anymore. Two weeks ago, Katie and Vince had to put Lexie to sleep, because she had developed nose cancer. It was too widespread (we suspect throughout her entire body) by the time they discovered it, and there was nothing more they could do. Then, this week, Teddy got sick very suddenly from complications due to undiagnosed diabetes, and he died on Thursday night.

I knew when I got my dogs that it was likely that, God willing, I would outlive them. And even though I know in my head that so many things in life aren't guaranteed, I guess I just figured they would go the way Kurley did, after a long and good life. Today I'm realizing that might not be the case, and I'm reminded to enjoy the time I have now with the ones that I love, including these furry, four-legged creatures that bring so much life to my home.

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