Buddy died in my arms last night, at home, peacefully and quietly. He had been diagnosed with cancer last May, and it slowly invaded his body, ultimately affecting his heart and lungs. The vet said Buddy would not make it to see the summer, let alone live through it. But live he did, tail wagging and eyes sparkling, and I made sure he had the best summer ever. He ate steak and fresh strawberries, swam and retrieved endless sticks, chased chipmunks off the deck and napped on the couch. And then I had to let him go. I woke to my new reality of life without my beloved Budster. No gentle snoring in the corner of our bedroom woke me this morning, no nails clicked behind me on the hardwood floor as I made my way to the kitchen for coffee. My home feels so empty, and my heart is broken, the price one pays for loving so fiercely. We sign up for this reality when we bring that puppy home to share our lives, but damn it's hard to say goodbye.