Note: This is a different kind of essay for this blog. More personal and sad. You’ve been warned. Thank you for reading. -Lindsay

When my puppy said goodbye to my old dog

When my dog Ace died, it was in our living room on a Friday. Meaning, the vet offices were closed. So I had the burden and blessing of keeping his body with us until the next morning. Most people do not get to experience the death of a dog in this way anymore.

From the comfort of our living room floor, I curled my body around his like I’d do if he were alive. Pressed my lips to his soft, smooth forehead. Kissed that low spot between his eyes. Told him I loved him, what a good boy he was. Inhaled his dog scent maybe a dozen times.

When I went back to the bedroom, I left him out on his blanket. He appeared to be sleeping there like any given night. Peaceful and safe.

Next morning was most painful, knowing my dog was still there but not. I hoped he’d somehow be alive again, like he is in my dreams, that we’d been wrong about his death.

But no.

That morning was silent. No wagging black tail. No senior dog to be let outside and fed.

I still had my young pup, of course. Remy and I went through our normal routine, so normal that he seemed indifferent to the loss of his brother.

Until, about a half-hour later, when the pup stood over his friend, stunned.

Remy had been there for Ace’s death. He’d been present during the heart attack. He’d walked by the body many times seemingly unfazed.

I did not shield my young dog from my old dog’s death because I always thought animals understood dying and accepted it.

So it broke my heart and gave closure that morning to see my young dog, standing there, suddenly confused by his brother’s stiffness. Like he’d thought Ace had just been sleeping this entire time. (Not unusual for our old guy!)

My young dog stood there beside his friend and mentor, tail wagging frantically in question.

He sniffed Ace’s face real close, then jumped back, shocked by this change.

Maybe he wondered why Ace didn’t give a little growl, like he’d always done when Remy pressed close.

My young dog stared, backing away from stillness and scent.

He knew then.

Our old friend was gone.