You were in the kitchen sleeping in a cozy bed shaped like an igloo—a soft and warm spot for you to rest. You purred so loudly when pet, rubbing your head into my hand. Then the coughing and wheezing started and it seemed so hard for you to catch your breath. You stepped out of your bed and looked up with your big green eyes. Your ears were tiny little nubs, missing even when your family found you. The absence of ears made your eyes look even bigger. As you took a few steps into the dining room, your tail was now visible. Like your ears, your tail had evidence of a hard start in life—large scars where hair couldn’t grow. You were a survivor of hard things, things that left you scarred. Yet here you were, pure love and sweetness. They understood that about you, that you learned to love and trust after what you’d been through. They loved you even more because of it.
You were lying outside in your backyard on a cool summer afternoon. Your family gathered around you. They’d prepared a soft blanket for you to rest on, but you’d chosen your spot in the grass. Your tail wagged so sweetly when I came to say hello, but you didn’t have the energy for more than the wag. Just 6 years old, your liver was failing. You had small amounts of saliva at your mouth, evidence of your nausea. You were one of the most handsome dogs I’d ever seen—reddish brown with a tail soft, full, and fluffy, like a fox tail. Some of your family was worried they couldn’t stay by your side, couldn’t make it through their goodbye to you. They all did stay with you, loving you through their sadness until you’d gone.
We met just inside the sliding glass door onto the deck. Your family clearly loved Labs. There were Lab signs and statues all along the walk to your home that greeted guests. Your big beautiful yellow face gave me so many kisses. My heart broke with how much love you still wanted to give. First looking at you, I saw a beautiful, shiny, soft yellow Lab with a happy tail and a happy heart. After a little more time together, it was clear that you breathed deep, heavy breaths and that your back legs could no longer support you. I then knew, like you & your family already did, that your body could no longer keep your tender heart here on earth. When you get where you’re going, look for the other Labs and look for Buck. Like your family and me, Buck, has a special place in his heart for Labs. He’ll make sure you’re okay until those you love find you.
You came bounding over to greet me, the happiest house call patient that I’ve seen. Your body gave clues of how you were really doing, how you were smiling though you were hurting on the inside. An anxious boy, you’d left scars up and down your front legs from the licking you’d done. Your family stepped away when it was time for you to pass. I whispered softly to you and patted your long red fur as you snored deep in sleep. I’m here with you and will love you as you go.