sage.

Sage, the smartest dog in the universe, the one who helped my sister survive high school, nursed my dad through chemo and radiation, and helped my mom with both her empty nest syndrome and finding her footing after Dad died, was put down yesterday after sixteen long, wonderful years of life. Sage understood an incredible amount of conversational English and — somehow — Christmas, always opening her present when it was her turn, parading the new toy in a boastful prance before adding it to her seemingly endless collection.

She made it through yet another move into a new house, the one that’s been in my family for decades, where my father grew up. I think she got there, felt the memory of my dad in the walls and floorboards, and knew she’d finally gotten my family to a safe place. That’s when her legs gave out, legs that have had more torn ACL’s than an athlete.

My mom told me the words she whispered into Sage’s ear as she fell asleep for the last time were, “Go find Daddy.” I really can’t think of that without bursting into tears, every single time.

Goodbye, Sage. Wise old Sage. You were never just a dog.