Tonight we said goodbye to the toughest old lady I’ve ever met. When we adopted Piper no one was sure quite what her age was; we were told she was between five and seven years old. They knew she’d had puppies at some point not long before she’d been found and that her life up until she was rescued had been really tough. Her hair was thin, patchy and sun-bleached and it was clear she was scared around people and loud noises.

We got Piper about a year and a half after our other lab, Jazz, and even though she was an older dog, the two of them were good friends. I remember taking Jazz to meet her for the first time and watching how they almost immediately fell into sync as they walked, as they sat, as they watched the world go by. They were a good fit for each other and for us.

Two years ago we lost Jazz. And in recent weeks as Piper’s health rapidly declined, I’ve felt like he’s been here, with us. I’ve had these moments with her sitting next to me and as she would turn her head, I imagined Jazz sitting there too, turning his head at the same time… just like he used to. It’s been a comforting thought at least, to think maybe he was waiting for her.

We had Piper for ten really good years. She was sweet and gentle and demanded attention, but was never wild. In the beginning, while she warmed to Jazz immediately, it took her longer to trust us. But once she did, all she wanted was to be close to us. She loved kids and didn’t mind it when they crawled all over her to play. She was a good lady.

She was strong until the end but tonight we knew it was her time.

I’m going to miss her terribly.