Growing up, my family always had a dog. As a bunch of animal lovers, this was and still is important to us. Recently, we lost our dog, Lizzy, of ten years, and dealing with the loss has been especially hard.

Pets really become a part of the family and provide immeasurable amounts of love and companionship. You get used to their greeting at the door when you come home, so excited to see you after a long day away. You take care of them; feed them, walk them, bathe them. They become a staple in your everyday life and you look forward to them being there.

That is how my family was with Lizzy. She was such a sweet dog, but she was getting old. We noticed her struggling to get up, being unbalanced on her feet, and crying when she was in pain. However, without fail, she was always there for us. She always forced her body up to come and give us kisses and say hello.

She would even have spurts of "puppy" energy, in which she would play with my dad and run back and forth. Granted, she would slump right down and fall asleep right after, but that love for life was still there. She was still trying.

Somehow, I had a feeling something was going to happen to her when I was away at school. All summer I was afraid she was going to die when I was away. And then I got the fateful call.

Lizzy could no longer walk or even hold herself up. She took a tumble down the stairs and was really hurting. The big tumor on her side, which started as fatty tissue, could have easily turned into something more dangerous. She was in pain all the time and no longer acting like herself. That's when my family made the decision to put an end to her suffering.

I immediately got on the train and was taken to the vet where they were keeping her. My heart flooded with sadness, I didn't think she was going to recognize me or even acknowledge me when I walked into the room. However, they brought her into the exam room and she came right up to me and licked my face. I smile to myself knowing I got that compassionate goodbye from my puppy.

My whole family cried gallons of tears that day. Now, our house is oddly empty without her. Even my cat is wondering where she is and is laying in Lizzy's usual spots. After having a dog in our house since I was born, it feels strange not having that energy there.

I'm sure plenty can relate, and all pet-owners know how much these animals mean to us as humans. Losing a dog, cat, hamster, or fish can hurt pretty badly. Lizzy will always be in my heart, even when she leaves my everyday thoughts. Our pets are still with us after they pass on, even when it feels like there's something missing.