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.
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,