So today my dog Darwin had to be put to sleep, after his kidneys failed and his quality of life vanished over the course of a few days. I was not there to hold him, or my husband, and my teary assurances that he was a good boy had to come via satellite phone from a boat offshore. I am devastated, but trying to focus on the good times we had as a family over seven and a half years. I don’t think that dog spent even one second of his life not doing exactly what he felt like doing. Much to our chagrin this often involved stealing food off the table (or straight out of kids’ hands), peeing on everything in sight, howling at the wind, licking the bottom of the grill (while it was on) and the occasional rolling in roadkill. Despite my belief that I am “more of a cat person” I admit that I am addicted to the kind of love only a dog can give you. I don’t expect to ever find that kind of love with any other animal, human or non. That silly beagle was happy to see me ALL THE TIME. Even if just for a brief moment before rushing back to the kitchen to watch Reed make dinner, he would greet me at the door, tail wagging, supreme love in his brown eyes. I often worried that his life was a bit lonely, alone in the backyard when Reed and I went to work or out with friends. But then I remember the camping trips to Anza Borrego and the 3 week adventure driving to Alaska that he was included in – where we slept, ate and hiked always dependent on them being dog-friendly. He rose to those occasions much better than I anticipated, sleeping curled at the foot of the camper or sitting quietly on a blanket next to the picnic table. I could never begrudge him the occasional manic moment; after all, the kangaroo rat started it. My favorite times will always be those when he was sleepy and thus well-behaved and snuggly. I could pull him in close and scritch his warm tummy and thump on his chest like a bongo. I wish I had been able to do that one last time, but perhaps being able to remember him as a happy, healthy, sweet little trouble-maker is better served by the fact that I was not with him at the end.