It turns out that the Ed I actually miss most is the one who religiously cleaned up after me in the kitchen. This picking food off my bare feet—it's tiresome.
When I went to pick up Ed's remains, the receptionist, who I've known for years, got up without being asked and gravely rummaged through cardboard boxes. She picked up one the size of a grapefruit and set it on the counter in front of me. Her eyes moistened.
"This is the hardest part of my job," she said without making eye contact.
"Nah, I knew she'd be in a cardboard box," I said.
"No, not that. This." And she handed me a plaster mold of a dog's footprint. The plaster had "Ed" etched in it.
I have nothing I want to share about Ed's final hours except one detail. Far from the "she died peacefully, just drifting off to sleep" nonsense we all expect, her final moments were surprisingly violent. There's little doubt in my mind that for a couple seconds, Ed was very much aware that she was dying. I've since learned that the mythological peaceful drift-away requires a sedative (Acepromazine) not given to my pup. Ask for it.