It's been three years since Che (short for Noche, rhymes with Ray), had to be put to sleep. I laid down with him, just like we are in this photo, and held him until he slipped away.
I have lots of Che stories. Dogs and kids, right? I'm thinking right now of when Claire was a baby. She must've been at least six months old; she could sit up by herself. We plopped her down on the tile floor, put peanut butter on her forehead, and let Che lick it off. It was her baptism, right there in our cozy kitchen. Maybe you're thinking, jeez, that's just a little gross. But every time I think of it, I grin. It was the perfect combination of things: dog as spiritual leader, brown-eyed baby girl, & a dollop of peanut butter placed strategically on her forehead.
In the summer, Che and I would go to the Delaware river and swim across to the New Jersey side. If I got tuckered out, I would grab a hold of his tail and he'd pull me along with ease to the sandy beach. He was my dog for almost fifteen years. Actually, he was more than a dog. Che had my back, as people like to say these days.
Now if I could just bury my face in his big, old, furry head.