Because Rokokobang said it was okay.

We had to put one of our dogs down today.

Little soul

Willow was an old soul, as one might say. She was quiet, sedate, always thinking, and too clever for anyone's good. When her son was acting up, she always put him in his place. She was sadly never the centre of attention; she was about three or four months old just as my parents brought a little hellion of a puppy into the house who demanded everyone's attention because if we turned our backs on her she'd probably start a fire. Willow was such a good girl, though, that she just sat back and played with a ball when said little monster started to act up.

I played a game with her called "Where's your ball?" Despite how wickedly clever she was, I couldn't make her play fetch. Instead she'd play with her ball on her own, but if she walked away from it, I'd take it and ask her "Where's your ball?" She'd find it in my hands. Sooner or later, whenever I asked her that question, she'd go find it.

We also played a variation called "Where's your tail?" She was an avid tail-chaser, even in her dotage. She could never catch it, though; mean, mean old tail.

Eight months ago, Willow was so different. I couldn't call her "vibrant"—she was never vibrant. She didn't demand the attention that our other dogs did. But she was active and healthy for a 10-year-old dog. And then she changed. She wasn't Willow anymore; she was just this empty shell. Her little soul fled months ago, only to show up on rare occasions.

She had severe arthritis in her spine. Getting in and out of the house was brutal for her. Eventually we had to help her up onto her favourite chair, where she liked to sit and look out at the magpies and sparrows in the backyard. But then she would get up and stand with her head down; she would stand with her nose almost pressed up against the wall; she would turn in circles; she seemed lost in her own home. And finally she had stopped eating and started relieving herself in the house. My mum finally knew it was time.

I said my own goodbye to her several weeks ago.

The above picture is from December. This is how I want to remember her, before everything went wrong for her. She wasn't "my" dog, not the way some of our others were. But my heart still hurts.