In Plan B, Anne Lamott has a moving chapter about the death of her beloved dog, Sadie. "Having a good dog is the closest some of us will ever come to knowing the direct love of a mother, or God, so it's no wonder it knocked the stuffing out of Sam and me when Sadie died. I promised Sam we'd get another puppy someday, but privately I resolved to never get another dog. I didn't want to hurt that much again, if I could possibly avoid it." It's amazing how much the death of a dog can hurt, isn't it? On one hand, it's just an animal. It's not a child. And yet . . . . This past year our dear friends James and Marla lost their retriever, Lucy. She was an indoor dog that knew her boundaries. (Very few.) She was around while the girls grew up, she oversaw the comings and goings during teenage years, she tolerated the move from Arkansas to New Hampshire to Vermont. And when she died, it wasn't like losing a pet fish. (Apologies here to those really attached to a pet fish.) Also last year our friends Charles and Mary Lee lost Digger. It's still weird going over to their house and not seeing him lying down on the kitchen floor. Digger knew he was allowed anywhere on the tile, so he'd get his body to the very last 1/1000th of an inch next to the carpet of the living room to be as close as possible while we talked. And several years ago now, Molly died--the blonde cocker spaniel we'd had since Matt was five. She was technically "Matt's dog," but she endeared herself to our family by being so gentle around Megan. Especially when Megan was young and healthy, she could be pretty rough. (New readers may not know that our daughter was mentally handicapped.) But Molly would receive that tough love without ever becoming cross. We have lots of memories of the two of them running across the back yard in Arkansas. After Molly died, I thought we were through with dogs. That's when I noticed that Diane and Chris had come home from the library with several books about dogs. Not a good sign. But they determined that they were going to find the perfect dog and then we were going to buy one. (I'm still confused as to why I'm not in on decisions like that.) A few days later I went out to run and when I returned, there was a puppy in our garage. It was obviously one that had been abandoned and had wandered in. I called to Diane to come see--just sort of as a curiosity thing. But when she screamed, "Chris, come here. You won't believe this!" I knew we were in trouble. I said, "No, no, no. This isn't our dog. It just wandered in here." Diane responded, "Chris has been praying every night for God to bring us another dog. Could you explain your position to him?" So he's now our dog. Moses (named by our friend Emily, who said he was "drawn from the garage") is a big dog. Really strong, good-looking, smart dog. In other words, everything our cocker was not. But, alas, we also have another cocker. I'm still confused about this one. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law and my three nieces went to get a puppy, and they came home with a black cocker. But for some reason, we had to take the brother of their dog, so they wouldn't be permanently separated. Of course, I'm still wondering, if this was so important why didn't they take both? But I digress. Anyway, we also have Joshua--so named because he came after Moses. Any other dog people out there? Anyone else who's had dogs "raise" your kids? Or anyone who remembers thinking, like Anne Lamott, that the loss of a dog was so painful you'd never get another one (only to find yourselves proud owners once again)?