My dog Marby died this past Tuesday.
I loved her.
Today I know for sure that animals have souls.
Because her absence has created a hole in my heart only possible because a warm loving soul has made an unexpected exit from my life.
She was a golden retriever a little on the small side.
She was the runt of the litter, born with a heart murmur that made her unmarketable for the dog breeder.
We rescued her from the euthanasia needle because she seemed to tell us she belonged in our family.
She was right.
For nine years, she defined gentleness and unconditional love.
Her favorite game consisted of waiting for you to leave the room.
Then she would grab anything of yours and take it to wherever you went.
When you went to grab it out of her mouth, she pulled away at the last second.
She never scratched or damaged any object she ran away with in her mouth.
She knew these were delicate items, so she treated them delicately.
Well, maybe a little drool, but that's harmless.
Most importantly, she wanted to be where I was.
Many late nights, I'd be toiling away at the computer.
In my Dave-cave in the basement.
Marby would always camp out right next to my desk.
Being with me.
I've heard it said that if you want to show someone that you love them, spend time with them.
Marby did that in spades.
She couldn't form words.
But she could be with me.
Sometimes listening to my troubles.
Looking right at me with those soulful brown eyes and amazingly expressive eyebrows.
And at times of struggle, she seemed to sense it.
Her expression told me that she would gladly substitute herself for me and absorb my pain if she could.
But for the moment, she would do all that she could.
She would be with me.
In the Old Testament Book of Ruth, a young woman tells her widowed mother-in-law not to be sad or lonely.
"Where you go, I will follow."
That's a moving tale about unparalleled love and loyalty.
That's what Marby gave us.
I'm having a hard time now, watching TV.
I look to the spot where Marby pressed against my stocking feet and I miss her terribly.
But when I reach down to scratch her on her favorite spot, my hand finds air.
Dogs have souls.
I know because I ache for one who left her furry body just a few days ago.
They aren't just pets.
They are very dear family members.
I cried when we got to spend a few minutes clutching her lifeless body at the pet hospital.
She looked peaceful and content.
That's how she made me feel.
Even in times of distress.
Love you, Marbs.
Someday we'll walk together again.
I miss my best friend.