We had our dog put down yesterday. Imoto was 14 years old, a beautiful, gentle, sweet dog.

Her hips had been deteriorating for years. Anti-inflammatory and pain medicines let her lead a full, active life far longer than we expected or had any right to expect.

She always loved to go for rides and walks. And she liked swimming, though at first Joanne had to do a lot of coaxing to get her into the water. Joanne got her a dog life jacket to make it easier for her. The handle on the life jacket also made it easier for Joanne to help Imoto out of the lake.

Imoto spent nearly every day of her life with us, and nearly every hour of every day with Joanne. Joanne brought Imoto home when Imoto was a small puppy, while I was away on a business trip in Japan. I didn’t really want another dog, but within a few weeks I could see how much our other, older, dog benefited from having Imoto as company. And within a few more weeks Imoto began to worm her way into my heart.

On her last day we made sure that she had a good day. We went to White Bear Lake and had a picnic of McDonalds breakfast sandwiches - Imoto got her share of steak and cheese. We stopped at 2 of her favorite parks on the St. Croix river, and in Stillwater, and Imoto got to go in the river twice. She was a very happy, very tired dog.

We returned home about an hour before we were scheduled to go to the vet. Imoto went to the backyard and had a nap in her favorite place behind the garage.

When it was time to go I went back to call her. She jumped up, excited to be going for another ride, not knowing that it would be the last ride she would take. At the vet, Joanne went inside to let them know we were there while I walked Imoto around the building. When I went in, Joanne told me that she had arranged to have it done outside, under the tree in back of the vet’s building, next to a pond. I took Imoto and her rug out to the tree, and had her lay down. I rubbed her ears and did my best to talk to her without crying. Joanne came out a few minutes later, followed by the vet and her assistant.

Imoto had a good day, and a good end, in the sunshine under a tree, next to a pond.

I know that in a few days or a couple of weeks I will be able to remember all the good times we had with Imoto over the years. But right now there’s a large hole where my heart was, a hole filled with sadness and loss.

She was a good dog and a good friend, and she’ll be always in my heart.