A Brief Tribute
My daughter had her Yellow Lab put down today. He was, give or take a few days, twelve years old. Always a strong, healthy fellow, he survived cancer surgery five or six years ago. But, in the past year or so, his heart grew weaker, and that caused a weakening of the legs.
Thanks to a very caring vet with some excellent ideas on how make Dirk more comfortable, his quality of life was improved. He was able to squeeze in six more months of joyful living.
Over the weekend, however, he became unable to lift himself up from a seated position. Floors can be slippery, so my daughter took him out in the grass to see if traction was the issue.
Sadly, it wasn’t. Unless someone put their arms around his midsection and gave him an assist, he just couldn’t get himself up on all four paws. Once up, standing and walking was a terrible struggle.
Now, we’re left with lots of great pictures, and wonderful memories of Dirkie. I have to admit though, sometimes I was not his greatest fan.
There were times when I would place a loaf of fresh-baked bread on the kitchen island and step into another part of the house to work. During the summer, I’d leave the kitchen door open. On more than one occasion, I’d hear thumping and rush into the kitchen in time to see Dirk happily loping out the door and the remains of my bread in crumbles on the floor.
I was always certain that I had placed it in a way that would prevent him from reaching it. Each time he proved his skills and abilities in securing his sought-after treat. He was also a great apple thief.
Leaving apples on low tables or counters was an open invitation to Dirk. Always ready for a snack, unattended food was always in peril when Dirk was around.
I finally learned to put the bread in the pantry to cool, and started buying a couple of extra apples. It ensured we had enough for lunches, and Dirk could enjoy his apple heists.
He had a great taste for bananas--peels and all, and butter too. Once, my daughter started unpacking supplies for a 4-H cooking class she was teaching and discovered all but one stick of butter was missing.
One of the other moms saved the lesson by running out to the local convenience store for morebutter. When she returned home, my daughter found Dirk in one of his favorite spots gorged on butter and incriminating wrappers lying nearby.A big puff-ball of yellow lab hair, he had a real trickster personality. He seemed to know when rubbing against an outfit would cause the most aggravation and distress. It seemed like the darker my outfit, the longer he would linger, placing just the right size swath of hair on a skirt or pant leg.
A Hard-working Guy
Most of Dirk’s life was spent protecting our three-acre hobby farm in California. Along with our other lab, he would put unexpected, or unknown, visitors that arrived at our gate on notice. His techniques were very effective. After getting to know our delivery men, they would confide that they would never consider challenging Dirk.
For a time, we raised goats. It was often necessary to check on a baby goat or it’s mama in the middle of the night. On moonless nights, Dirk would safely guide my daughter across a large open space between the house and the barn. If a wandering coyote happened to be passing by, he made sure it kept a respectful distance as it continued on it’s journey.
Dirk was a big, powerful guy that loved children, never harmed any of the livestock, and delighted in teaming up with our beagle to track down and dig rabbits out of their holes. Life without him won’t be the same, and we’ll all be a little poorer for his absence.