When I was pregnant with our first child, I heard about a couple who had to find their dog a new home because their baby was allergic to him. I asked Alan what we would do if that happened to us and in a matter-of-fact tone he responded, "I'm sure we'll find a good home for the baby." Lucky for our daughter that wasn't the case and for the next four years Simon and Lilly were like siblings. Sister would pull her big brother's hair and he would take all the blame. Her first word wasn't Dada or Mama, it was Baba, which is apparently baby talk for dog. We, too, started referring to Simon as Baba and he began responding to it. As Lil's speech developed, his nickname changed to Doe Doe, then Dohg Dohg, then Fighme.
I took the little things for granted. It used to irritate me when he'd rub up against my leg and leave a patch of dog hair on my freshly washed pants. Now I celebrate when I find bits of his hair in unexpected places. It was impossible to cook with him standing right under me in our tiny kitchen, but he was the only one who helped me mop the floor after dinner. I long to hear his footsteps, the way his toe nails would click, click, click on the hardwood floors. I miss knowing there was always someone to come home to. We miss you, old friend, dog hair and all.