In 2012, I remember ringing in the new year at home on the couch, so content with a hound in my lap and a husband by my side. If we're here next year, just the three of us, I'll be happy. I got to revisit that moment 12 months later, but I knew better than to make the same wish this year at midnight. At 10.5, Chloe had quickly started to show the signs of age.
Dan became Chloe's dad when she was just weeks old. She saw him through some lonely bachelor years, pooping on the floor in front of girl after girl he had hoped to date until I came along when she was 5. Dan joked to me that Chloe would be the deciding factor in the future of our courtship, that she could count on one paw the people she liked. If I met her approval I could stay around. Quickly I learned her affection could be bought with doggy ice cream. Less than a year later, she would run in circles and howl when Dan would ask her, "Where's your mom?"
She liked me a lot. She loved puppy pops.
The night Dan got down on one knee to propose to me Chloe was behind him, her short front legs (leg-arms, as we called them) reaching up his back for his shoulders. Together, they asked if I would stay around forever. It is my most favorite memory of the hundreds I've revisited since we stroked and sang our dog into her last nap.
In the final weeks, when I could no longer pretend Chloe wasn't slipping, my prayer was always Let her know no pain. She was very uncomfortable on that last day, it was clear, but for the most part I believe she hurt very little. She had stopped asking for belly rubs. She had stopped snuggling with us on the couch. She had shared all the love and bad breath she had to give, and our hearts are softer and fuller for it.
As much as true dog people can, we adored our dainty, lazy, soft, smelly, loyal, stubborn, warm, spoiled, speckled, and perfect real girl. We miss her every day.