The sun peeked through the trees and everything was right. As the light shone through, it bounced here and there, hitting grass and flowers and insects alike. Until it reached Hayley. Unlike the grass and flowers and insects, the light framed Hayley in a honeyed light. She turned her head to this light and basked in its warmth. Her black coat gleaming, her ears perked up. Hayley was a dog then that knew her place in the world. Her body relaxed, her cheeks lightly puffing, she emanated calm and peace. And then she looked back at me, holding my phone as I captured her perfect image. And through her sweet brown eyes, I saw intelligence and thoughts that only she would ever know. And I could only guess at.

This little extract shows only a fraction of what I see in Hayley. She is my first dog, so she is the most special dog to me.

Her personality has grown so big over the years, it makes her nearing end all the more cruel and painful.

Hayley represents my childhood, my adolescence and my growing maturity. Every happy and sad moment I experienced as a child, she was there.

Every anxiety I experienced as a teenager, she was there.

And now I’m, supposedly, an adult, and she continues to be that anchor in my life that I know will always be there, even when she is gone.

This goes both ways, when she was a pup, I was there.

When she was a teenager herself, unsure of new things but always so excited, I was there.

And when she hit maturity, heartbreakingly much sooner than I, I was there.

Our lives and personalities are so interwoven that I feel she will never, truly, be gone. And so I will never, truly, feel alone.

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