On October 7th, I let Gaby go.

She was about 16 1/2, give or take. She had been diagnosed with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction over a year ago, but what had been a slow-but-steady decline accelerated over that final week. It’s possible she suffered a stroke during that time—she became more and more unsteady on her feet, finally reaching the point that she struggled to maintain her balance and needed to lean against something to remain upright. I took her to see the vet on the 6th and the conclusion was that she wasn’t there anymore. The light had gone out. I bought her home for that last night, then took her to the vet’s office in the morning.

She was a very special dog. People smiled when they saw her—some asked if her name was “Benji.” She was stubborn, a willful, active little girl who loved being outside in all weather. She enforced the “daily walks” rules, barking at the door until I got my act in gear. Five miles was our usual distance; in summer, the walks became shorter and shorter as her heat tolerance lessened. In cooler weather, however, five miles was the norm until the last year or so. She loved to splash in the lake and dash along the shore, running to the end of her lead and back again. Sometimes she’d roll in the sand. At home, she’d chase the backyard squirrels (and occasionally catch one). On warm days, she would sack out behind the wild hydrangea or in the middle of the hosta bed. On cooler days, she slept in the sun.

I took this photo this past June. She’d just been groomed—you can see a corner of a neckerchief poking out from beneath her collar.

I’m still adjusting. It’s going to take a while.