Some 15 years ago, my brother's girlfriend, now wife, gave him a dog for Christmas. And not just any dog. A squishy faced, tiny pug. Ugly and yet so cute.
Somehow, over the years, he became more than my brother's pet. He was all our pet. But none more than my mom's little buddy. That dog loved my mom. He had a spot on her bed. He would curl up next to her whenever she sat down. He knew she'd always have a peanut butter frosted bone for him after a walk. He basically adopted her.
The last time we saw Ripley, he was leaving for Vancouver, Washington, to join his family after they'd moved for my brother's new job. It was an adventure getting him to the airport, but he was sent off in style. In the last few years, he went blind and deaf and increasingly more confused as to his whereabouts. This spring, he turned 105 in dog years. The venerable old man.
Today, John called to say the time had come. Ripley was lost and clearly in pain. John didn't want him to suffer.
I told the kids over dinner, and their faces fell. They'd known Ripley their whole lives. And even though he didn't live with us, they've always thought he was part of our family, too. Such a good loaf of a dog.