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So Long, Noble, Farty Beast

So long, noble, farty beast!

You stood at the stairs when we came home from dinner, always. Like, "Oh, it's you guys? Fine, come on in, I'm watching HGTV again."

Like it was your house. Because it was, of course.

You tried to dig holes in the foyer floor, where mom said you liked to howl at ghosts (and we both rolled our eyes). For one summer, you were best friends with an eight-ounce rock that you carried everywhere in your mouth.

I once stumbled upon you devouring an ant trap like it was the last piece of food on earth, and I wondered how fast I could get to Alaska, where they'd never find me. But you were fine. You once ate a piece of wood that blocked up your pancreas (how does canine biology work, I still wonder) and gave us a pretty solid scare. But then you were fine. And you lived another, like, decade. Well into your doggy-eighties, you fought (what the hell were you possibly thinking) a Great Dane five times your size at a farm stand. It was your first and last fight. But I think everyone would agree that it was a draw.

Dad plied you with ice soaked in his vodka, which you cheerfully chewed then napped, and you sneezed when he gave you plastic bowls of beer or (no joke) Veuve. He was your whisperer. No one could doubt it.

You suffered hugs with the petulance of a pre-teen. No blanket could hold you down. You were independent and ornery. You treated most humans with a moody disdain, which we admittedly deserve. But you hated *only* the UPS guy, that mortal deliverer of correspondence, and we're sorry you didn't live to see him replaced by robots (as you deserved). He was the only living being that could elicit a bark from you right to your last gray December.

You were always on your hind legs begging for food. I gave you so much bacon. So. So much bacon. But for this, I have no regrets. There was no reason not to share secrets with you. We were like-minded in our affection for excess. We bore that together with pride, I think.

You lived on and on and on.

At the end, you had cataracts the size and color of the moon in both eyes and you were deaf as a post. "These sons of bitches put walls in new places every day," you seemed to be muttering as you ambled around the house after midnight, kind of admiringly disgruntled and confused, but never in pain so far as we could tell.

I literally dreamed about you last night. Dreamed that I took you to the vet, where a team of six vets in suits were trying to pull you away from me, when I woke up. It's ridiculous. You weren't mine. Mom and Dad took most care of you, and Mallory was the one who wanted you in the first place.

But I think we had an understanding, at least. Who knows?

Anyway, you got one last snow. You might not have been able to run through it, but if your foggy brain cleared up for a second while you were walking out there, I hope you still looked up at the sky -- like we all do when stuff falls from it -- and thought some version of "Whoa."