Betty never left.
She became a part of our family that night and began to teach us the true meanings of love and patience and loyalty. Betty became ours in the instant we took hold of her leash and she loved us immediately and unconditionally.
She loved us as we moved and bought a home, as we started careers and worked hard, as we welcomed two sweet children into our lives, and through countless joys, heartaches, changes, and mistakes. Betty's patience with us was infinite. She asked very little of us, all those years, but gave us so much in her consistent, adoring companionship.
Our time with Betty wasn't always easy; we worked hard to train her, calm her, ease her worries, and give her the consistency and routine that gave her peace. In doing so, we learned what it meant to live beyond ourselves, to put someone else's needs ahead of ours. She helped us learn to be a family, not just a couple.
Our sunny afternoon walk with Betty ended up being our last walk with her. Illness overcame her body over the course of the next 72 hours and she died at the vet's office early Wednesday morning, just after my husband arrived there with her in the hope that another day of IV fluids and monitoring might reveal the cause of her illness and help her to turn a corner.