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Just a number really. About a quarter of my life. Long ago, one day, 5,221 days ago, I went to a house that was about to be put up for auction. The couple was getting a divorce after a very long and tough year. Their youngest child had died of leukemia. Their oldest dog had run away, and then the wife/mother followed in what I presume was anger, shock, and grief. If it all sounds so outrageous, it was. You could’ve set a bomb off, the damage would have been less. People in this kind of crisis are often shell shocked, I know, I saw them throughout my career as a divorce lawyer.But on that day long ago, or maybe it was yesterday, my husband and I went there to get my birthday gift. Three days earlier the man come to my office in tears about what was happening in his life. The auction was coming, he had to get divorced, and his little dog who he had had for only nine months since the other had run away, had no home to go to so she was going to the pound. I knew she was an Irish Setter before he told me. I knew she was supposed to be mine and I told him we would be there on Saturday at 6 AM. I knew I was going to have to go home and explain this to Mark, but I knew he was going to understand.I remember going home that evening in and telling Mark the story, and could she be my birthday present? I remember his grin. “Let’s go get her,” he said. That’s Mark. He gets it. There’s something intuitive in him, it’s another level we connect on. He understands how I feel about certain dogs. She was mine.We named her Chloe.We picked Chloe up, and she was WILD, just like you would expect anything who lived in that environment. She expressed it by biting for a while and always guarding the perimeter of our property. She paced, she cried, she barked, but she got into our truck for the second car ride in her life and puked the whole 20 miles back to our house. It was early and we decided to go back to sleep. She jumped up on our bed, crawled under the covers to bottom of the bed by our feet, and let out this animated deep, deep sigh, then slept with us until noon. She was home.Immediately, she bonded with the Golden Retriever, and the Yorkie… they were a pack from the start. And immediately she began sitting on my lap to be petted and talk to. It comforted us both. She was troubled. She bit a couple people at the door and would run up and down inside the fence barking and growling at anyone walking by. It was always about the perimeter. Once they were fully inside they were fine. It was just at the boundary. We took her to behavioral medicine veterinarians who put her on OCD people meds. People dosage. And from that week forward the behavior was fixed, and she had no side effects just that she stopped threatening people at the door.Over the years, the Golden Retriever and the Yorkie died. Another Irish setter from the same breeder joined us and she too died at age nine. It broke Chloe’s heart. She grieved whole year for her Golden Retriever, and later on for the Irish Setter sister. But last year we brought to Havanese puppies home from Florida, and the sadness in her went away almost immediately. She had a pack again and she had a purpose. She washed their little faces after eating, took them for walks and helped them with house training. She curled up with them on the floor and they would jump all over her dropping toys and balls at her feet. A few times at 15 she would play with them scampering down on her front paws. Occasionally there would be a game of chase. She would go into her crate if they went into theirs. She slept when they slept. She would check out their food by pushing it in the bowl before she would let them eat it. Perhaps she was checking the temperature. She would lie down first before inviting them over. She would share her treats with them. She was a brand-new dog after so many years, but brand-new at 15 with only so much time left.Two puppies is a lot of energy and noise and commotion. I set aside time every morning in the last year for Chloe to sit on my lap, to be petted and talked to. She would step in front of me at my chair and turned to the side so I could pick her up under her chest and slide her onto my lap. She’d wait for the blanket and then put her head down on my chest. We sat in that chair for about an hour every morning. Sometimes I would close my eyes but I would pet her shoulder rub her ears the way she wanted day after day. It was good for both of us. It was peaceful.Then one day she got off my lap after five minutes and laid in her dog bed nearby looking at me. She didn’t eat breakfast that morning. It was Monday. Tuesday, no breakfast, no lap. Wednesday an upset stomach, no breakfast, no lap. I knew where we were headed as did Mark. I was listening… they let you know. She was sleeping most of the time. When she did eat on Friday morning I was thrilled, obviously it’d only been the flu and she would be better soon. After a 45 minute errand I returned to find her laying on the floor having been sick…. and she couldn’t get up.She let me know. The look was the look of a loved one who speaks with her eyes. She would occasionally pull me by my sweater when I wasn’t paying close enough attention. That morning she could only look at me. I told her I understood, that I loved her and it would be all right soon. Before she died that day she looked at me while we were at the vet: she put the leash in her mouth to walk us quickly out of there. So I carried her. She was not fond of going to the vet, as few dogs are. But it was her time. She had been diagnosed with cancer four weeks before. I didn’t explore the cancer diagnosis. She was almost 16 and there would be no treatment. There would only be one day of pain, it was not going to be allowed to continue after that one day. And I knew she would tell me when she was done.As she laid on the table, she was under the blanket, she so loved blankets. She looked at me with her white face and cloudy rheumy eyes that a dog of her age often has, and once again she let out her deep, deep sigh, 5,221 days after that first day, and I knew she was home. Rest in peace my beautiful Chloe, someday we all will be together again.