Friday, I had to have my beloved little girl put to sleep. I'm not embarrassed that I broke down and babbled like a baby as she stiffened and went back to be with the other angels. Cocoa was four and a half when her family broke up. Her "dad" took the other dog and left town for good. Her "mom" took her two kids and placed them with relatives while she worked a double shift and tried to sell the house. "Mom" would come by to feed Cocoa, abandoned in the house, every day, while she tried to figure out what to do with her. I guess the relatives had limited space and just couldn't take in a dog too. My dog, Spinner, had passed away one month and one day before I first saw Cocoa. She chased my car as I drove home. I hadn't seen her before even though Spinner and I used to walk past her house almost every day. I thought she might have been dumped on the four-lane that ran behind her house. So, I turned around and went back to look at her collar. She also was frothing at the mouth. She was in distress. As I knelt down and coaxed her to come near, she would stretch and sniff at me, but would not come close enough to grab her collar. Then she'd run away and return a bit later. Neighbors came out. A lady stopped her car and offered me some left-over McDonald burger she didn't finish to try to tempt her with. But to no avail. The sun had already set and the last light had faded away as I got her history from the neighbors. They had seen her out on the highway once, behind her house where a car had stopped and the driver was trying to catch her. They thought she had been hit by his car. In the dim light I saw Cocoa go down to my parked car and put her paws on the driver's door and look in the rolled down window. So, I figured her owner must have a similar car. Then she ran past us and back toward her house and disappeared in the night. I thanked the neighbor and walked up the street to my parked car. When I opened the door, the overhead light came on and there sat Cocoa on my back seat! I could NOT believe it! She had apparently circled around behind her house and under cover of darkness jumped through my window and made herself at home. Some people don't believe in God. I say they should open their eyes and ears wider. This was Divine intervention. I had been, then, as heartbroken as I am today—grieving over the loss of my Spin dog (as I used to refer to Spinner). But one of the few things I knew in the Bible was not to grieve longer than one month after the loss of a loved one. Cocoa jumped in my car one month and one day after Spinner died. So, I took her home and arranged to meet her owner in a few days to return her. Then we met at her house. Talked for a couple minutes. Cocoa was happy to see her and she gave Cocoa a Milk bone. I got up to leave and Cocoa ran out the door and over to my car and jumped against the door, as if to say, "Let's go Dad!" Her owner started to cry. She didn't know what she was going to do about Cocoa and so, even though my heart wasn't ready for another dog, I told her, "I think Cocoa just solved your problem." Cocoa lived the next ten plus years with extreme separation anxiety. I am single and live alone. We went everywhere together. Even in the hospital to visit my mother many times as she dealt with the problems of old age. Well, until Cocoa rounded a corner and came nose to nose with a big "comfort dog" about three times her size. She barked and snarled and growled and carried on so loudly it got us permanently evicted. When a single person loses their dog, it's not just losing a member of the family. It's losing your whole family, at once. This past weekend was the longest, loneliest one of my life. Cocoa had been diagnosed with a tumor on her liver on Labor Day, 2019. I was concerned that she had gotten sick from the salmon skin I had given her that she seemed to love and I didn't like, a win-win situation I had been thinking. The vet showed me the x-ray and said her liver was at least twice the normal size, "This is not caused by salmon skin," she said. I asked how long would she live. "A month, maybe two?" she replied. That was over a year and a half ago. It's been a roller coaster ride since then, but all downhill. The peaks not quite as high and the valleys lower and lower. Our power walks became slower. Our walks less frequent. Our emergency trips to the vet more frequent. She liked to sleep under my bed, right below my head, until it was too painful to crawl under there I guess. When she refused to eat her dog food, which was always a five star rated one, I cooked her salmon without the skin, or meatballs or roast beef, which I don't eat as I am pescatarian nowadays, or anything that would stimulate her taste buds. When a dog refuses roast beef you know things are getting bad. So, Friday, she became so weak she couldn't stand. I took her to her regular vet, then to her oncologist vet as the sun was setting and he was finishing up with his last patients. Unable to go inside due to COVID-19, they started an IV while I warmed up the van. They brought her back to me wrapped in a blanket and placed her on the floor as I knelt over her and sobbed uncontrollably as I said good night, as I had every night, one last time, "Thank you for coming to stay with me. Thank you for keeping me company. Thank you for protecting me and making sure I get lots of fresh air and exercise. Thank you for giving up your family for me, I know that was a hard thing to do." Then it was all over. She went out of my life after exactly 3839 days, almost to the minute, as she had come in, right after dark, behind the driver's seat in my car.