Her Last Ride

A little over 15 years ago we got a puppy.  We went and met her on a chilly Saturday morning in late December, 1994.  My wife and I had decided that we needed another "baby" in the house, and that our older dog needed a playmate.  So we found a farm with mixed breed puppies, and went to meet them.  There we met Jackie.  She was 8 weeks old, and she chose us (not the other way around).  We knew we had the correct dog; when I picked her up, she snuggled in and fell asleep in my arms.  We adopted her right then and there, and then took her for her first ride ... home.

Jackie loved to be near "her humans".  If I was watching TV, she'd be asleep at the end of the couch; if I was working in my office, she had a bed setup right next to my desk.  She was a very social dog, and loved to be as close to us as possible at all times.  She loved to go for rides too.  We'd take her all over the place, and if she got out and we wanted to get her to come home, all we'd have to do would be drive close to her, and open the door; she'd be in her seat in a flash.  We took her camping and on trips half way across the country and back.  She traveled well and would always stay close to us.

Today, I took Jackie for her last ride.  She was a little over fifteen and a half, a good age for a Black Lab and German Shepherd cross.  She'd been getting on and having more trouble moving around for a few years now, but she was always happy.  This past weekend she was deteriorating, and we had to make a very difficult decision.  She had been with us for so long.

I put her in the front seat of the Jeep; rolled down the window, and we went for a long, slow, drive.  From her position on the seat she stretched her neck to the open window and let her ears flop in the wind, and she'd look at me, then she'd put her head down for a few minutes, obviously tired by the effort.  I took the long way to the vet's office, giving her as much time with that open window as I could.

At the vet's office, she fell asleep in my arms, for the last time.

... and then I drove home alone ...