Ellie, on the day we brought her home over 9 years ago. (Also, a rare picture of me as a teenager.)

And Ellie at the end of her life, when she was big enough to claim the whole couch for herself. Not that we minded.

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In memory of Phineas, who was my quiet buddy for six years, and who outlived his tank mates as well as the store who sold him to me. He wasn’t the best bred Shubunkin in the tank, but he was certainly the funkiest.

OK, guys. If you’re reading this, you’re on notice: no more deaths this year, all right? 2009 has been rough. I feel like wrapping my friends in bubblewrap.