A Good Boy
I took a deep breath and began. "Mom and I went to the Encinitas shelter - it was a Super Bowl Sunday, and we were having people over to watch the game, and we really weren't going to get a dog, we were just going to stop in for a look. We walked around for a bit, and one of them - he was Duke then - was standing at his cage door, looking at me and barking. Wagging his tail, too. He was trying to get my attention. So I got the volunteer girl to let me meet him. She warned me that he didn't really like his butt rubbed, so of course when I walked into his pen he turned right around and backed his furry butt right up to me, and gave me a look. I knew right then that he'd picked us. Not the other way around. He picked us."
I paused. Deep breath.
"The thing with good dogs is that...as much as they know how you're feeling and what you're thinking, you know what's going on in their heads. I can't explain it, there's no science behind it, it's nothing more than a feeling you get, but you just know. So last night...when we brought him to the vet, I knew. We had him for 13 years, and I knew that he was ready to go. He wasn't scared, he wasn't sad - he'd said goodbye to you and Zo' and I think...no, I know that he was ready. He loved us and he was ready."
I looked out the window, across the canyon.
"Dad? What are we going to do with his...ashes?"
"I was thinking we'd take him to the dog beach. He loved it there. Next to your room it was his favorite place. We can spread his ashes there and he'll always be a part of it, the sand and the ocean."
He thought about this. "That would be nice. And he'll still be in our hearts. Maybe we can find a nice rock and write his name on it and keep it in the yard?" Such a good boy.
"Sure. Sure we can."