Courtesy of the New York Times.com | By MICHELE MONTGOMERY | Illustration by Giselle Potter | Originally Published 01.12.2018 | Posted 01.30.2018

In the 15 years that my dog, Jesse, was alive, I sang him to sleep over 5,000 times. Our ritual began with a question: “Who’s ready for good night loves?”

Jesse would hop off whatever chair he’d been hogging, shake his wavy black-and-white coat, march across the wooden floor and snuggle into the foam pet bed in our bedroom. I’d tuck in beside him, kiss the silky hair on the bridge of his nose and croon an improvised jingle.

I am a terrible singer. People ask me to sit out the birthday song if it is being taped. Still, Jesse adored our good night communions.

I assumed.

There was no cause to question our relationship. Not until I discovered that, after Jesse died, he seemed to be visiting other people.

In life, he could always find his way home, so why did he not visit us in the afterlife?

Child-free by choice, my husband, Jim, and I loved being pup parents. Jesse got romps around Los Angeles. Relaxing vacations in Big Bear. Meaty home-cooked stews. A lap of red wine or yeasty beer off Jim’s finger at cocktail hour. Excessive? Perhaps. When Jesse was still hardy on his 15th birthday, a friend remarked, “He’s got it too good to die.”