My four-legged friend is gone and while I knew that day would come, I didn't expect it to arrive so soon.
Lily arrived less than a year into his residency and we feared how he'd react to the shared spotlight. Our fears were unwarranted as he proved a gentle, doting chaperon who rarely strayed from the baby's side.
This diligence continued even after we left the city and moved into a home with more room for Clouseau to sprawl.
First Lily and then Piper loved him and likely never considered life without him. Now and again Lindsay or I would comment on how strange it was to realize that Clouseau would likely not live to see the girls into their teens, never entertaining the idea that he'd not even see them get on a school bus.
This April Clouseau began having accidents despite having been housebroken from before we'd adopted him. At first, I thought he was at last demanding the attention lost from sharing the home with two small children. I was wrong.
I finally broke down and took him to the veterinarian by then assuming confirmation of a bladder infection or, at worst, kidney stones. When we learned that Clouseau had advanced lymphoma and had little time remaining, we were absolutely stunned. Stunned and heartbroken.
Not knowing how much time we had left together, we did what we've always done, we took Clouseau hiking and swimming.
We threw sticks, we laughed, the girls squealed. But even little Piper seemed to pick-up on our melancholy.
It was a lovely, bittersweet day and it wasn't the last. We were granted another couple of months with our beloved dog. By early June, however, it became apparent that life was becoming more of a struggle and we'd agreed to not extend his suffering out of a selfish want to have him here with us.
The family shared goodbyes.
We never made Clouseau wear his collar at home and I'd hated putting it on him for this trip. Having removed it for the last time, I put it back in its usual place upon returning home.
On the other side of the room sat Clouseau's bowls and I couldn't bring myself to put them away.
Lindsay and I have always been very straightforward with the children and both girls knew that Clouseau had been sick and wasn't going to get better. Still they struggled to understand that he was truly gone. Both Lily and Piper seemed to take the news rather calmly, but when I put Lil to bed that evening, she and I shared a good, hard cry.
Once the two of us had composed ourselves, Lily said so sweetly to me that she just wished Clouseau would've stayed a little longer.
Me too, Lil. Me too.