I hate the euphemisms — put down, put to sleep, even euthanize. The reality was, I would have stayed forever with his warm head cuddled against my shoulder, stroking his soft fur, whispering love into his goofy ears. But he was slowly suffocating, fighting the fluid that was filling his lungs and heart, and I couldn’t bring myself to be so cruel. So I let him go. Helped him go.

When the vet was injecting him with the sedative, I was stroking him and telling him what a good dog he was and then I stopped myself and I told him the truth. “Actually, B,” I said, “You peed in places you shouldn’t, and sometimes you snapped and snarled at people, and you were very stubborn about refusing to learn any commands, even the easy ones. So I’m not sure I can say you were a good dog exactly. But you were very good at loving me.” I think that’s probably the only skill a good dog really needs.

Today is the sixth anniversary of my friend Michelle’s death. As his gasping breaths finally slowed down, I told him to find Michelle and take her to a beach. I would like to think that they are there right now, and that B’s knees don’t hurt and he doesn’t get tired after three minutes of running and he isn’t scared to play with toys and sticks. And if he wants to go swimming, that she has a warm towel waiting for him.

I will miss him so. I already do.

The beginning of a roll in the sand…