Tuesday, July 12, 2011

We Love and Miss You, Ridgers (Barnes' MountainRidge Hunter: March 26, 2001 - July 11, 2011)

I started LabTails in January 2005 at a time when, after writing for others and for publication, I decided I needed a place where I could write regularly for fun. Just for me.

The entries here were never intended to be literary masterpieces; they were only meant to allow me to process (in written words) lessons I learned from living and sharing life with our Labrador retrievers. Maybe, too, they would give me a giggle along the way.

Much to my surprise, folks in Cyberland (all over the world) started reading our little blog, and some have continued with us through six-and-a-half years. A few have become treasured friends.

Long-term readers know we began our LabTails journey with only three Labs:  Baxter, who came to us as a wee pup in 2003; Ridge, who we acquired at 3 years of age in 2004; and (at that time) puppy Elsie who, in September, 2004, arrived a few months after we brought Ridge into our lives. Snickers, the cat, also made an occasional appearance, but the focus here was our life with Labs. Baxter, Ridge, and Elsie were the original three. Theirs were the tales I told in those early entries.

Much has changed since:

  • Baxter no longer lives with us. He belongs heart and soul to our daughter and her husband, and has since 2008.
  • Snickers, the cat, lives with them, too. We've been cat-less and Baxter-less for three years now.
  • Elsie, who was six months old at the birth of LabTails, turned seven years old today. Happy birthday, Elsie!
  • We added Kenya to the mix in October, 2006 (born 8/5/06).
  • Elsie whelped her first litter in 2007, from which we added Pinot to our gang.
  • Baxter moved away to Maine in the summer of 2008 with my newlywed daughter and her hubby; he was officially theirs.
  • I flew to AZ to pick up our Tuc buddy in July 2008 (born May 15, 2008) not long after Baxter left us. I don't know for sure, but perhaps Tuc filled the void the Boos left behind. But I barely had time to enjoy Tuc's puppyhood.
  • A month later Elsie whelped her second litter (the infamous P-word litter) from which came lovely puppies but also from which we learned more than we ever cared to learn about the risks of puppy-rearing. Many of you fretted, wept, and rejoiced with us through those times. We're forever indebted to the families who hung in there with us.
  • I took a break from writing for much of 2009; it was a regroup year for me, but our Lab family (then minus Baxter, but including Ridge, Elsie, Kenya, Pinot, and Tuc) thrived.
  • 2010 brought Kenya's first litter (and Ridge's last) from which Chessie, our first chocolate, entered our lives. 
  • Not long after, we retired Ridge and had him neutered: no more stud days for him.
  • In March of 2011, just 15 weeks ago, Elsie whelped her third and final litter (Tuc's first).
  • Then, last Friday, Elsie was spayed.  The seven-year-old gal's puppy-bearing years are behind her now.

We (you regulars readers and I) have walked through much together over the years, but in all that time I've never had to say a final goodbye to any one of our gang.

Until now.

That changed yesterday when, after a sudden, rapid decline, dramatic weight loss, and lots of time at the vet's the last two weeks, our suddenly-cancer-riddled Ridge was ready to leave us for good. He went comfortably and quietly, nestled in against DH's lap with DH, DSD, and I stroking and assuring him. Our beloved Dr. Wagner gently and tenderly eased Ridge over the Rainbow Bridge and wept with us as we said goodbye.

I've decided, however, that instead of writing about grief and loss and heartache, I'd rather celebrate a Lab-life well-lived. Ridge's was such a life.

So, my next post will be a series of photos (much like I put up on FB for those who follow us there) capturing the beauty, loyalty, athleticism, devotion, faithfulness, silliness, and ... yes ... the peculiarities of our now-gone-but-never-forgotten-and-always-loved Ridge.

Run well and free, sweet boy. We miss you bunches, but we'll forever carry you in our hearts.

Until next time,


kayceebeebee said...

I can't believe I, whom never seen or met Ridge, shed tears when I read this. So sad. I know how you feel being experienced with a loving dog and cancer. Hugs to you and your family.

I found you when I searched "limp tail" many years ago for help with our loving dog named Jill. I miss her still but have very fond memories of good times we had and her funny ways. May you treasure those memories of Ridge, too.

Kristi said...

I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your beautiful Ridge. I teared up when I read your post and just feel so bad for you. I'm glad you were able to be with him the whole time.

Thank you for writing your blog. I only have room for two labs in my home but live vicariously through you for my lab fix!

Jessica said...

Joan and family,

I have been reading Lab Tails for quite some time and had tears in my eyes when I read this. I am so very sorry for your loss. However I know that you and your family have a MILLION wonderful memories or Ridge to sustain you.

Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

The Rainbow Bridge has quite a few new residents in recent days -

Thanks for sharing him with us - and for letting him go with dignity -

It is the greatest gift we can give our furiends - albeit the most painful -

We'll be looking forward to the posts ahead -

CAVE said...

<3 I am sorry for your loss. I also found you from searching "limp tail" and you helped me get over my initial terror when my yellow lab baby got it for the first time. Thank you for continuing to brighten my day with the stories of your labs.

runswithneedles said...

I've been reading you for awhile now but have never commented.

I am so sorry about the loss of Ridge. I'm glad you're going to celebrate Ridge's life. That's what I do when a dog dies (sadly, that's been three times in the past four years) and I always feel better after I write their eulogy.

I look forward to reading more about Ridge.

labradorrodeo.com said...

I'm so, so sorry for your loss. Looking forward to your life-celebration posts in honor of sweet Ridge.

Many blessings to you; saying a prayer for the comfort of your family even now.

Teri said...

I am so sorry for your loss. We get to share our lives with these precious souls for much to short a time. When I said goodbye to our yellow lab (14.5) last year I put together a picture montage to one of my favourite songs (Johnny Reid - My Old Friend). I watch it often and I cry sometimes but mostly I laugh and smile at the wonderful memories. I wish you lots of comfort from your own wonderful memories of Ridge.

J said...

RIP Ridge I too shed some tears reading your post. You've come to feel like friends through your posts. I've often laughed, worried, and been happy reading about your dogs, the litters, and life in general. Having three lab mixes of our own, I've also learned from your experiences. Thank you for continuing to share with us.

Phyllis said...

I have only been reading your blog for a couple of weeks,(though I had to go back to the start once I started and read them all.)Hugs to you! Never having lost a canine companion, I can only imagine how you feel.
My Lab, Lucy is only 7 months old and I love her dearly. Your blog has helped me get through some pretty wild times with her. Looking forward to more tails!

JuliaR said...

Ridge had a wonderful life with you and you loved him to bits. I know you will miss him something fierce. I am glad you have the other dogs to keep you company while you all miss him. He will live on in your hearts, but also in the wonderful puppies he made. Please accept my sincere condolences.

Anonymous said...

I did post a comment earlier before the opportunity arose to read further into your blogs. Even though we do not have a pup from you it is always enjoyable to read your informative information. I was so saddened to hear about your recent loss of Ridge. We, too, have unfortunately dealt with our 11 year old Casey who developed liver cancer. Along with this she was also a diabetic. It never occurred to us to do anything but help her get well. Our family did everything possible to keep her happy and comfortable. About three months before her passing I told her to PLEASE give me a sign when she was ready. Sure enough she did. All that she asked for was to be outside in her yard. Of course, I knew that she was getting ready to leave us. As difficult as it was to see her leave, it was what she deserved. A peaceful ending with love. She was an awesome lab for 11 years. It has been almost two years since she left us, but her presence will forever be missed. We have a new girl now, Tess and plan on adding a male in September. If my husband would let me, there would be more to follow. Labs have found the soft spot in my heart. When I read about Ridge I needed to go outside to cry. Yes he wasn't mine in the physical sense but we find a way to relate to all animals. He will be waiting for you. One day I know that our Casey will be waiting too!