It's been a little over two years since we had to put Elvis down.
He was 13 and enjoying his grumpy-old-man-retirement. Until one Sunday in October, he woke up from a nap, started stumbling a bit and looked at me, confused.
It was as if he'd had a stroke. He was confused about his inability to walk but he also wasn't clear on who I was.
At first he wouldn't eat - which if you knew Elvis you would know that was the No. 1 sign of trouble.
Elvis would eat anything at anytime - including the 6 corncobs and 1 grape stem we had to have the vet remove years ago.
But this day was different.
After a few attempts at eating a hot dog and stumbling in the back yard, we knew.
Sometimes, you just know.
We were fortunate to have that Sunday. It gave us time to let the kids hold him and say good bye. To let him eat whatever he would like. To tell him how much we loved him.
To take a moment.
The next day we took him to the vet and he had a very peaceful transition.
Eric and I have graduated colleges, had many moves, purchased multiple cars and homes, had children and even medical scares.
But for some reason, having to put Elvis down made us official grown ups.
I think it's because I remember when my parents had to put their basset hound Malcolm down. It was one of those childhood instances when another sliver of innocence gets shaved off the bubble. Another peek into how the world really is.
Malcolm's death was the first time I had ever seen my father cry.
Elvis was a milestone.
The drive to the vet, holding him and being there for him.
Going home that afternoon and talking to the kids.
All of it so painful but necessary.
It struck me how emotional the boys were about Elvis' passing.
They had really only known Elvis in his older years. And let's face it, Elvis was a grumpy old man from the beginning. He never loooooved the kids. But he enjoyed herding them into hula hoops and stealing their food. The kids had memories of tracking Elvis down after two disappearances. And I recalled when Jack was a baby and Elvis was his most favorite thing to look at. And Elvis taught Eli how to walk with his cookie held as high as he could around the house.
We still miss him.
His blue collar remains in the console of my car.
We knew we would eventually get another dog someday. Simply because we are dog people and none of us have ever lived our lives without a dog.
But we also knew it would take us some time to grieve. I didn't realize it would take so long.
Two years after Elvis died, I started causally looking at shelters and web sites in case there was someone that might look like a good fit for our family. We needed a dog that would be good for our kids and be besties with my parent's Catahoula Izzie.
I had a specific list of requirements: around 35 pounds so I could carry it if needed, black to match the hardwoods, good with kids of course, about 1 year old and maybe this time a girl.
I would see a rescue at a shelter and started testing the waters. I'd head over to just have a look, a pet, a cuddle. If it went well, I would bring the kids for a test. Some tolerated the kids, some chased the kids, others simply didn't care if the kids were there or not.
There was a wild and crazy Rottweiler mix named Turkey, a pensive Dachshund mix named Pebble and even a sweet, nervous boy named Joey. We got really close with a basset mix named Scout. He was so precious but had been returned based on a tiff with child. Just wasn't sure. Maybe the owner wasn't supervising enough?
We were mulling it over, when I came across a black Schipperke mix named Dixie. I reached out to her foster family in Mayflower and set up a meeting.
When we arrived, she darted out the door straight into Jack's arms. She greeted me as well, but these playmates were her focus.
We walked her up and down the street and watched her interact with the kids and the other dogs that lived with her.
We hadn't even finished walking her back up to her foster house when I knew.
The foster family went inside to get the paper work and I opened the back door to my car.
As if she had been waiting for us this whole time, she instantly jumped into the back with the boys by her side. She looked at me as if to say: "Where have you been? You're late!"
Sometimes, you just know.