“It’s only for two weeks,” Rebecca told Lorraine. “I just need to bring Bonnie to work while they’re remodeling my house. She’s a good dog, she’s quiet, doesn’t bark. Can I bring her to work?”

Two weeks turned into five years. Bonnie faithfully came in with Rebecca three or four days a week. Bonnie was a gentle, undemanding presence. She never asked for much, just for an occasional belly rub or scratch on the ears. She was always a little afraid of the cats, this 70 pound Bouvier de Flandres shying away from these five pound felines. Clients loved her giant teddy bear looks and her sweet, quiet nature. Sometimes she’d take a shine to people, resting her head on knees during sales presentations. Somehow, we always managed to close those sales. But most of all, we loved her. It wasn’t unusual for one of us to just get up from our desks and walk to her bed in Lorraine’s office to spend a quiet moment with our fingers buried in her thick fur. No matter how many projects we had or how crazy work was, things never seemed so bad when you had your arms around Bonnie.

I knew Bonnie had just reached her tenth birthday, but I still always expected to see her laying on the floor of Lorraine’s office like a giant black rug. But big hearts like Bonnie’s can’t beat forever, and it’s time to say goodbye to our gentle giant.

When we bring pets into our lives, we’re taking a gigantic leap. To love these animals so much is inherently dangerous. Because their love is so strong and unconditional, we find ourselves loving them just as blindly and recklessly in return, which makes their passing all the more painful. We know their lives are brief, so we can only love them as much as we can while they’re with us. And Bonnie was loved. As much as her loss hurts, as much as the thought of Rebecca and her grieving family guts me, I wouldn’t trade this pain I feel now for a single moment I spent looking into those big brown eyes or rubbing her tummy.

Now, Bonnie’s in a place where the sun is always warm and the grass is always tall, where there are no cats but plenty of cat food. And that’s right and that’s good. But we miss her like hell. Rest in peace, Bonnie.