She wasn’t there to greet me when I pulled into the driveway.
I mean, I knew she wouldn’t be.
But that didn’t make it any easier.
Instead, it was GJB that met me at my car.
“Come on. Let’s go visit the grave site.”
If you’ve ever visited GJB’s and Lil T’s house. You know she was always the first one to greet you.
It may even be how you found their house for the first time.
She would come running out and escort you up the driveway. And then wait patiently by the car for you to open your door.
It was really the best part of going there.
And as more people would arrive, you could see her excitement grow.
Because she knew.
It was time to go up on the mountain.
And going up the mountain was her favorite thing.
And over the last year. We watched her slow down a bit. Perhaps she was less sure footed.
Maybe she was a little slower.
But never as slow as us.
She’d still take off up the mountain. Sometimes circling back to get the slow humans. Patient. But also like, come on people. We’ve got to get you up there before the sun sets.
One of our last times up. She got stuck. On the rocks. GJB and OT had to carry her off.
And that was heartbreaking.
But even as it got harder for her, it never stopped her from going.
Because she loved that mountain.
She celebrated birthdays on the mountain with us.
She broke bread with us on the mountain.
And on those rare occasions that we visited. But didn’t go up the mountain. The guilt was real.
Because look at that face.
She just wants to take us up the mountain.
And when we finally started podcasting. She was there.
You may have even heard her tippy tapping across the floor sometimes.
And so I’d throw a towel down and sit on the floor with her. And cuddle. While the others kept talking. And it truly was the best part.
And sometimes she worried us.
Like when she took off back in July. Frightened by the fireworks. To a neighbor’s house. Where she waited. For a few days. While half of Roanoke and Franklin counties went out looking for her.
That is how important this girl was.
She was our mascot. And our trail leader. And our house greeter. And our constant Christmas companion.
And yesterday morning. In the comfort and love of her home. After spending her morning with GJB cuddled up on the floor with her.
She left us.
We are heartbroken.
But we are also grateful. To have had her in our lives. To know that after a rough start. She found her way into the best home. And she lived the best life.
As all dogs should. Because they are so much more than we deserve.
And I have no doubt that she will go with us. Our next trip up the mountain.
And when we get to the top. She’ll say, “Ok. Who brought snacks?”