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Our black cat Emma prepares to shove one of her toy mice under the door on December 27, 2007. Original: _MG_6565.cr2

Less than a week after her adoption in 2007, Emma shoves one of her toy mice under the door. She’d reach under to try to get them back but often they’d end up out of reach. When we moved and emptied the house I think we finally found all the remaining ones that had been shoved into the most obscure places, but I like to think at least one remains, a little reminder of a sweet black cat for whom this house was home.

Time for a Snooze

Time for a Snooze

Ellie in 2009, she came into the living room while I was playing with Scout to let me know she was available for hedgehogging, a minute later she was making music with her favorite toy, then a minute later was ready for a snooze. She’d sometimes have soft little snores, sometimes she’d make little whoops as her legs made running motions.

The Teacher & the Student

Our dog Ellie lies on the throw rug in front of the door in October 2014

Taken two minutes apart on Halloween of 2014, Ellie teaches Boo how to wait by the door so they can greet me when I come home from work (he was always eager to take her spot after she got up). Our first cat Templeton used to wait by the door for me, then Scout learned it from him, and Sam and Emma from Scout. But after Ellie arrived the cats learned to hold back a bit as her feet started dancing but she was looking at me and not at cats who might have wandered underfoot. Sam and Boo sometimes greet me at the door now but not with the consistency of the old days.

Our cat Boo sits on the throw rug in front of the door in October 2014

Bargaining With God

Our dog Ellie looks up while laying on her homemade dog bed in the living room of our house in Portland, Oregon on Halloween in October 2014

Our Heavenly Father,

Please let me live a long and happy life so I can look after my family no matter where they go. In return I promise I’ll be a good girl and not steal any pizza off the counter. Except I really like pizza and I know they want me to be happy and also someone needs to test it to make sure it hasn’t been poisoned. How about I promise not to steal any vegetables off the counter, they can cover it from one end to the other with broccoli and carrots and I won’t take a bite.

Also, I’m sorry I ate the entire batch of freshly baked cookies. And the tub of caramel. And …