There was no way there was good news for Marley. I knew this was exactly like 5 months ago, when Dr. Hopkinson had given the one-percent gamble. The vet explained that she was going to try to get his stomach back into place. I hoped so. It worked once so it could work again…

Half an hour later, the vet came out and said she had tried three times and failed. "At this point, our only real option is to go into surgery, or the most humane thing might be to put him to sleep."

I knew there was no way Jenny and I could see Marley suffer anymore. We had gone through this 5 months before, and our decision was still the same. But it was still a shock, as I stood frozen. I called Jenny, telling her that nothing worked. We knew we had made the right choice.

I asked the doctor for a couple of minutes alone with him and she said, "Take all the time you need."

He was there, lying unconscious on the stretcher on the floor. I ran my fingers through his fur the way he liked it and down his back. I lifted his floppy ears and looked at his lousy teeth. I dropped my forehead against his and sat there for a long time. I wanted to make sure he understood some things.

"You know all that stuff we've always said about you?" I whispered. "What a total pain you are? Don't believe that for a minute, Marley." He needed to know that and something more too. There was something I had never told him, that no one ever had. I wanted him to hear it before he went.

"Marley," I said. "You are a great dog."