Today, this morning in fact, we had to put one of my dogs down.
I guess it's not fair to call him my dog. He was my entire family's dog. He started out as my brother's dog. My mom brought home a terrier/dachshund blend from a local woman, and after talking it over with us, she decided to go get another dog from the litter as well.
It was weird and fitting that we wound up with the runt of the litter and the biggest pup as well. We named them Socks and Smudge. Smudge, the runt, was scrappier and feistier. Socks was more mellow. He was a chubby little roley-poley, so relaxed that he'd often fall asleep in your hands while you were carrying him.
It wasn't long after getting them that we decided they needed to be outside dogs. Once they'd matured a bit, they became too wild, tearing the house up constantly. Socks and his brother used to tag-team things until they'd reached their desired level of destruction. We once found them trotting down the hall carrying a couple of boards from my wooden floor that they had managed to chew out. Another time, they burrowed through the front of our wicker clothes hamper, out the side of it, into the side of the other, and out the front of it--with branching tunnels into our wall. They were like tornadoes, impossible to stop, and always spreading destruction in areas you don't expect.
When both of them got sick, we weren't sure they'd make it. Socks was the bigger, stouter one. He lived. Smudge didn't. We found him trying to bury his brother. Smudge crawled into the hole they'd dug under their dog house, and Socks was kicking dirt onto him with all he was worth.
Socks eventually came back inside, after his wild puppy years had left him and he mellowed out.
Socks became my dog for a while. Throughout high school--I don't know how or why--he got really attached to me and followed me everywhere. When I went to college, he became my Mom's dog, latching onto her and shadowing her for the rest of his life.
Over the years, Socks was always the good boy. We got another dog, a part min-pin/part-chihuahua that is loud and cranky and doofy and stubborn. We got a dachshund that was stupid--just...adorably, tragically stupid, y'all. But Socks was always the good boy. He didn't dig in the trash. He didn't tear up things. He didn't go potty inside the house. He was awesome.
Socks was old. He lived a long, good life. And he was very, very loved. I think he knew that. I think he knew, even at the end, that we all thought he was a good boy.