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Carl fit in my hand as a blue-eyed, six-week-old Weimaraner puppy when we brought him home. We were only two years from being empty-nesters, what were we thinking? That was a time when life was anything but simple. With complex family schedules, long work commutes, and a three-bedroom house with a large yard to maintain, adding a dog to the mix only made it harder to keep up. Yet, Carl became an instant part of our family.

He was with us for nearly 10 years and through many life changes. Carl moved with us five times, took many trips and watched our son and daughter move out to start their own lives. With him, the house was always a little dirtier, the planning more challenging, opportunities for spontaneity curtailed. Yet, he brought an energy to our lives and we loved him deeply.

Sadly, we had to say a painful goodbye about six months ago after learning he had cancer and being unable to stop the rapid progression. The truth is, life is simpler now in many ways. No taking Carl outside one more time each night despite the weather. No fur to sweep up or loud alerts that something moved outside. No searching for his lost blanket when taking him on a trip or filling up half the car with his bed, food, and, well, his 100-pound self.

But then again, I miss him every day. I no longer have a “ready at a moment’s notice” running partner. We don’t erupt with unexpected laugher from a comical Carl expression. Sometimes the quiet of his absence is deafening. The clean door window makes it all too apparent that he isn’t watching for our return. And even though his large frame often crowded our bed, we miss seeing his chin on the edge of it every night asking for permission to come up.

Does having a dog align with simplifying your life? Maybe not. But my biggest reasons for simplifying are to bring more balance and joy to my life. Carl did that. So maybe it does.