We eventually did get another dog. Not, in case you were wondering, when I brought home a "Let Jennie Get A Dog" petition that I'd had my entire class sign, but when I was in high school. My aunt's lab had puppies, like a million of them, and we somehow convinced my dad to let us take home a teensy chocolate one. We named her Ripley because, as my dad would tell people, "believe it or not, we got another dog."
You can maybe see where this is going. Probably. I don't know. This morning my mom called and said it was time to put Ripley to sleep. I'd been expecting it but still wasn't ready for it, you know? Ripley's health had been declining for the last year and a half and lately she'd stopped eating and was having trouble even walking to get outside.
So this morning, I wandered around the condo a bit, probably freaking Max the hell out with all of my crying, and went over to my parents' to say goodbye to Ripley before we took her to the vet. The vet was...well, it was as terrible as I'd imagined, if not moreso, but we all stayed in the room with her when it happened. And it was awful, just awful, and I felt like I couldn't catch my breath through my tears, but I'm glad I was there with her.
I'd planned on driving separately on the way to the vet, but it felt right, my sister, Ripley, and I piled into the backseat of my parents' car, the bulk of Ripley in my lap, taking our last trip together. And as I buried my face in the scruff of her neck, I thought of that night, almost 13 years ago, when we took her home for the first time, how she'd crawled into my lap in the same exact way.
Excuse me, I need to go cuddle Max.