They told us not to get a dog. My friend, Ed was emphatic and warned, “Listen to me! You get a dog, and everything seems great. Then one day you realize that the kids have left home, and then the dog dies. I am telling you it’s too sad, don’t do it.”

I didn’t listen to him. I had convinced myself that when our children became teenagers and felt as if no one loves them, or understands them, a dog would provide the ultimate comfort. A being who loves you unconditionally, who will stay by your side when you are sad, scared or confused. To comfort you when no one else can. Black and white, a fluff ball of a puppy, he captured our hearts at first sight. For some reason, which I can no longer remember, the children named him Chico, that’s it, just Chico. Sometimes our youngest would call him Chico Amadeus Bras just to be silly, but most of the time he remained Chico.

Almost sixteen years later my friend’s warning looms over me daily. The children have all left home. Chico can no longer climb stairs and has to take Glucosamine just to ensure that he can stand up. His spring has left his step, and he can no longer chase the birds. He rarely hears the doorbell or anything else for that matter. He gets more table food these days and is content just to sit at his owner’s feet and sleep.

There is no natural progression for dogs, he won’t go away to college or move out, but he will leave us. I find that I can’t face the thought of his absence. And the thought of that day breaks my heart.

But the joy of knowing him, of having him as an intimate part of my family, far outweighs the pain of having to say good-bye after only a short sixteen years.

But thankfully, I don’t have to do that just yet.

girl and her dog

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