Tonight I lay here, next to my dog, contemplating life and death. You see, my dog Oliver is dying. He’s 14 years old. I’ve had him since he was less than six months old. We found him in a parking lot. An unwanted Christmas gift that someone had abandoned. The moment I saw him he stole my heart. A happy little puppy who’s eyes bore into my soul. He has been my constant companion since I was in my early 20’s. He’s been my loyal friend during the highest highs and the lowest lows. It was he who I laid my head upon sobbing tears of complete grief when my dear friend died. He was who I came home to after I met Chuck and allowed me to bore him with the details of the man who would later become his “daddy”. He has been such a constant presence in my life that I truly cannot envision life without him. Yet, here I am, facing the decision I’ve dreaded for months. He has always been so loyal, so selfless in his love for me. It is my responsibility as his momma to see that he leaves this world surrounded by those that love him. Holding him, talking to him, thanking him, hugging him. It’s the least I can do. He should not die alone. He never left me alone. He deserves the same in return. So I pray for clarity and for peace. As dog parents it’s a decision each of us inevitably faces. When’s the right time? Sadly, never. I am never truly prepared to say goodbye to my furry friends. My heart aches. My eyes hurt from crying. I am not ready to make the phone call just yet. I need to cuddle him just a little bit longer. Soon, my sweet dog will head off to wait for me at the Rainbow Bridge. He’ll join his brothers and sister who have gone before him. They’ll play fetch and swim in lakes, and lay with their bellies in the sun. They’ll patiently wait for us to be reunited. Saying goodbye sucks. 14 years doesn’t seem long enough.