My Chessie is 15½ and moving slower each day. A little arthritis, deaf in both ears, and sleeping more than usual, I pray each day she’ll still be with me. When I have to go on a trip, I tell her, “Now you be here when I get back, okay?” So far she has been. Sometimes she sleeps so soundly that it seems like she isn’t breathing and I have to get down on my knees to see. Sometimes I can gently touch her foot and she’ll wake up and start wagging her tail. I dread the day she doesn’t respond to my nudges. She has to go out early, and sometimes I grumble about getting up, especially when the sun hasn’t come up yet. I hear her claws clicking on the wood floors as she comes to see if I’m awake. I lay still, hoping for a little more sleep. She goes away and with a sigh, flops down in the next room. Soon she is back again and if the clicking noise on the floor doesn’t do it, she wags her tail against the side of the bed. Message received! I get my flashlight, heavy robe, scarf, doggie waste bag, two treats, and her bacon strip and we head for the alley across the street. Sometimes she barely makes it up the stone slope before tending to business. Then we walk a little ways. I look up at the moon on the wane, and thank God for another day, for health and blessings. Another benefit of this early trek is that many times in heading home, I can stop at the top of the rise and watch the sun come up, painting the sky pink, orange, and gold. Somehow it is always worth the early hour.

This next trip, my roommate, Valerie will be here and Chessie loves Valerie. I know my Chessie will be in good hands and get some loving care. Even so, I know that there will come that moment, a phone call perhaps or a text. I love to travel, but my prayer is that I will be here when her last moment comes, to pet her soft fur and tell her what an exceptional dog she has been.