Dogs’ lives are too short.  Their only fault, really.  — Agnes Sligh Turnbull

A 19th-century brass-studded dog collar with nameplate. (Photo: Cowan's Auctions)

There was no urgent need to get the mail. But, there was the need to put some semblance of normalcy into the day, while I still could. So I walked down the gravel lane, crossed the Pike, pulled a newspaper and several letters out of the box, and headed back to the house. From the top of the driveway, I looked across the yard and could have cried.

This is the only thing I wrote:

Getting the mail one last time, needing to see her there, as if life is still normal. Looking up from the road, and there she is, at the edge of the shed, framed by the front gate. And she looks natural, in her usual spot, seemingly at peace, even in health so ragged her life hangs by the thread I am about to cut.

Three days later it’s the only thing I’ve written about her, except for an antiseptic mention of the facts in my journal that night.

So I turn to the antiques industry, searching auction houses for an image — something that speaks of a dog’s love. I stop looking when I come across the empty dog collar shown above. It’s not what I originally intended to use, but it serves as the perfect symbol of my grief.

We kept the collar. We buried the dog.

Here’s to the most loving dog I’ve ever known. May she rest in peace.