Uli was born May 22, 2001 at 5:55 PM. We had to run over to Laurie's house just in time to see Uli be born. Mama had said we could only have a girl puppy and Uli was the only girl in the litter, she was meant to be ours! She came home to us at the end of July and from then on she has been a part of every moment, every memory.
Uli was with me through all of my high school years - seemingly cheering on my successes, posing for prom pictures, and taking the annual girls and pets Easter picture in stride as she tried to get the cat each year. It was Uli's fur I cried into when friends were mean or I didn't score as well as I wanted to on tests and when I didn't get into music school. I cried the hardest about leaving Uli when I drove off to college. She was always my first "hello" on trips home from Louisville. Uli came to visit me on campus, at camp in the summer, and even at my apartment. She sent me off on my wedding day. She stayed at our apartment and our first house some when Mark and I worked flipped shifts and I just needed a buddy. Eventually, she got to old to travel so we just made extra trips home to see her. In October 2017, she seemed in poor health, and I remember a trip the kids and I made home alone. I spent a good, long time saying good-bye and made a point to whisper everything I could have ever wanted to say to her before we left. This past New Years we were home and I got the stomach flu. Uli, who has been less cuddly as she has gotten older, stayed with me in the bathroom the whole time. Always faithful, always giving.
After the call came, we were in the car, and the hardest part was telling the kids. They knew I was upset and their little hearts just broke. Annabeth, who has known it was coming, and I think especially knew after our trip home a few weeks ago cried and cried. Owen took some time to process but could feel how upset we both were. Unfortunately, Owen's Bible story yesterday was Lazarus so on top of only being three he kept insisting that we could just pray Uli back to life like Jesus did with his friend.
I am thankful for the nearly 18 years, well over half my life, that Uli has been ours. When talking to her a few weeks ago, I said "How do I say thank you? How do I say thank you for an entire lifetime of love?" I am confident that no dog was better loved by their family. I am also sure that no dog has better loved their humans than Uli loved us.
Annabeth and Uli sharing a 5:30 Breakfast
Owen and Uli lined up on their blankets