In January 2014 we said goodbye to our third Dane, Conan, which left us a one-Dane family. The last time we were a one-Dane family was April 2002. Most of the years between we've lived with and loved a pack of three.

While our home felt empty after the first two, Vaughn and Angus, died, this emptiness is different. This emptiness encompasses our grief, Rhys (our lone Dane) and his adventures in senior citizenship (i.e., impending loss), and the balance that requires with a new two-legged family member.

Our son had the opportunity to be with Conan for about seven months. Rhys lost his best friend and has had to be with his feelings in a loud and boisterous environment with less attention. Not that we love him any less, but as the lower maintenance creature compared to the toddler, he often waits in line for attention.

I snapped these frames on a sunny afternoon. I want to laugh and cry when I see them. Rhys looks worried, anxious, exasperated, tired . . . He has always been an anxious fellow and that's part of his charm. He has constant company and yet is lonely. The Boy was "reading" on the floor, which involved lots of babbling and enthusiastic pointing and shouting with some butt scooting and book flapping. That was not the restful, restorative Rhys envisioned for his retirement, I am sure.

We are far from seeking another four-legged family member; we know the next one will find us when the time is right. In the interim, we prioritize Rhys' twice daily walks and make a point to get out for a canine adventure weekly. ​

I'm really glad I have these photographs. They tell our story. They honor our grief. They acknowledge how hard the change is and how vast the emptiness feels even when the physical space is full.