Just over ten years ago, back before we were married and even when I was still in college, Steve and I drove about an hour to look at a litter of tiny Shih-Tzu puppies. We played with the puppies and listened to the very talkative breeder prattle on for a quite awhile, until we finally decided which puppy would be perfect for us. He wasn't old enough to leave his mom, so we had to wait a couple more weeks. I remember the day he was ready - it was a Friday, and Steve went and picked him up after he got off work for the weekend. I was SO excited, waiting for them to get home. Steve usually just let himself in, but that night he knocked. I ran to the door and threw it open, then squealed with delight when I saw the new puppy, nestled under Steve's coat.
We named him Jose, and soon pretty much our entire lives revolved around that little dog. We were absolutely enamored with him. I have an entire scrapbook from that time that consists mostly of pictures of Jose, adorned with little paw print stamps and bone-shaped paper punches.By the time we had two kids, I was much less enamored with Jose. I think it was right around the time that Noah was born that we didn't let him sleep in our bed anymore. For awhile - I think when I spent a ridiculous amount of my life trying to get babies to sleep and when barking used to wake up those sleeping babies - I was really indifferent towards him. Over that last few years though, he worked his way into my good graces, just by being his agreeable old self.
Probably my favorite thing about him, and I know I've written about this on here before, was that he immediately ate every crumb of food that ever even came close to hitting the floor. I think my second favorite thing about him was that - unless it was hot or too cold - he always rode with us in the car, wherever we went. When we arrived at our destination, he'd wait contentedly in the car until we came back, at which time he'd happily greet us with a cheerful wagging of his tail.
On Valentine's Day this year, Emma chose to go out to dinner to celebrate her birthday. When we came back to the car afterwards, Jose cheerfully greeted us, as always. Per Emma's request, we then drove to Peachwave to get some birthday frozen yogurt. All was well until we came back to our car, where I was completely shocked to find that poor Jose had died while we were at Peachwave. We were utterly blindsided by it, particularly since he had appeared perfectly fine twenty minutes earlier.
I was kind of surprised by how sad I felt about it -literally on the verge of tears for the next three days or so. I started crying about little things, such as when the UPS guy rang the doorbell and nobody barked. The kids like me to cut the crusts off their sandwiches, and I used to marvel at Jose's ability to rouse himself from wherever he was in the house by the nearly imperceptible sounds of crust-cutting, and run to the kitchen and wait patiently for me to give him the crusts. The morning after he died, no one came running for the crusts, and I burst into tears as I watched them disappear down the garbage disposal.We took Jose to a pet cremation place, then buried his ashes in our front flower bed, under a stepping stone that Emma and I made for him. Before we buried him, we all talked about our happy memories of him, and about how much he loved us all (well, except for maybe Allie) and how much we loved him. He was such a good little dog, and even even though we will not always feel so sad, I think we will always miss having him around.