My Dad agreed to take our two dogs when we left for full-time missions in Haiti, and my Mom took our cat. It was a hard thing to do, for all of us. It was very hard on my kids, who had to learn to understand why they couldn’t come with us. You get used to them protecting your family, giving unconditional love and random doses of happiness. They are there for every birthday as your little ones grow. All of the home videos are filled with their cameos. A tail wagging across the screen here. Ears there. A wet nose sniffing the lense….before long they are a very real part of the family. Life is filled with memories together. Most Haitians think very little of a dog, and most people here certainly wouldn’t shed a tear over one, so it’s been hard on us all to find out today from my Dad that Jill, our oldest in the family, had to be put down. She made the trip with my wife and I across the country from Tennessee, when we were almost ready to give up on our marriage. She was there when we rediscovered our faith. She was there when my boy came home from the hospital as a baby. She was there when my girl came home too. She always watched over the kids like a mother. She went on every family camping trip, and hiked every trail with us until her paws were sore and tender. We don’t have any wedding pictures on account of her chewing up the album when she was a pup. She used to follow me everywhere, even to get the mail. She never required a leash. She wouldn’t call it a night until she was sleeping on the floor next to me in the bedroom, and she always got in the middle of every fight. If someone was yelling or even if we were just wrestling, she’d have none of it. She’d bark and even nip at whoever she thought was the instigator, until there was peace again. I choose to remember her before her hips gave way, when she was lightning fast and could run and jump like a deer. She could catch any tennis ball no matter how high you threw it. To my Dad: I truly believe there’s not a better place in the world she could have gone to live over the last year. You loved her as if she was your own, and I know you gave special care and attention to our old girl, letting her sleep by the fireplace to help her arthritis, and giving her extra special helpings at dinner time. I could never say thank you enough, Dad. I know this has been hard on you. You’ve had to say goodbye to more than your share of old dogs. But I know you were the best choice for her. Thank you for letting her come to Wyoming to live with you. We loved her very much, and I’m glad God gave her to us for as long as He did. Fourteen years was a good stretch, pup. I’m gonna miss your kisses. Goodbye Jillybean.