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It’s remarkable how a pet can become a member of your family.

Our house feels empty today because we had to let go of Annie, a 13-year-old rescue mutt of mixed and mysterious lineage who captivated us with a fierce independence, a sweet but often confounding quirkiness and a bottomless appetite for treats, especially red jelly beans and Bojangles ham biscuits.

We never really owned her. She owned us from the day we took her home from an SPCA adopt-a-thon at Lake Crabtree when she was less than a year old.

“We’re just going to look. We’re not bringing home a dog today,” I sternly instructed our son and daughter on the way over. Sure enough, they fell for her and, sure enough, I fell in line.

On the ride home, she looked up at me with an expression that I thought said, “Thank you so much for rescuing me.” Later I realized she was thinking, “I can roll you, sucker.”

Her life before us must not have been happy. Storms bothered her, and she hated being in the rain. Years later, when she began developing arthritis, an X-ray found a BB in her hip. She had been shot as a puppy.

Well, that explained a lot.

She became my companion on beach trips. She rode happily in the back seat. She knew a Bojangles when we stopped there, and she expected her ham biscuit. At the beach, she enjoyed sitting in the sun and letting the wind ruffle her long black coat. When we walked to the sound, she liked to wade in up to her chest and indulge in a long and, I’m sure, satisfying pee.

Lately she began suffering doggy dementia. She would sleep all day, then spend much of the night wandering aimlessly around, staring at walls and doors. What was she thinking?

We knew the end was near, but you’re never ready for it. The vet told us our options, and the choice was clear.

She died the way all of us would like to – peacefully and surrounded by the people who loved her.

 

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