I felt terrified of the moment when she would die. I have been through it with other animals and it’s never easy, but I knew losing her would be much harder. She is my companion in a deep way, I think because it’s been just the two of us. Also, she is a dog. I have loved cats, certain of them more than the humans I lived with at the time, but loving a dog is different. Their needs are constant and their attention is always on you. A cat no matter how much it loves you will treat you with some indifference. A dog, never. Its love is big and devoted and demands a corresponding feeling. A dog is both a permanent toddler and your best friend. Which doesn’t quite explain the way I love this particular dog—who is clever and funny and sensitive. She moves to curl up against me every time she wakes in the night. And in the morning rolls onto her back to have her belly rubbed. She gazes at me with intelligent brown eyes. She has the softest fur, is beautiful and elegant, and this is not only my very biased opinion. It is confirmed by strangers every day on the street who say, “What a beautiful dog!” and “What breed is she?”
“She’s a Papillion mix,” I reply, though, in fact, I’m not sure what breed she is, or what mix. She is uniquely herself, my Doe. When I ask her a question, her ears pop up to signal yes. Ears back, means no. If I say, “Do you want to visit Tracy and Jasper?” she will pull me all the way to 96th Street, right to their door. I don’t care what anyone says to dispute it; she understands what I say. When I first saw her, it was in a photograph on Petfinder.com. She was wearing a cheap red collar, standing outside in the snow, looking directly into the camera lens. I chose her from dozens of dog-photographs, for her intelligent expression, her delicate beauty, her tragic circumstances. She was 8 months old when I brought her home and we have been inseparable ever since. For 10 years, I have loved her more.