On a cold, brisk Valentines Day approximately 10 1/2 years ago, I was roaming the streets of Valparaiso. I was skinny, cold, and hungry and had been on my own for a couple of months. I saw a minivan pull up and from what I could gather, the owner was delivering a card to a relative. She left her passenger side door open and I quickly took the opportunity to jump inside. She was quite surprised to see me when she returned to the car! Long story short, she took me home to a chaotic house full of 3 little kids and another lab, Henry Brown, who happened to be my best bud until he passed away in 2013. It wasn’t long before a new puppy moved into the house and kept me quite entertained day and night. Her name is Poppy Brown and boy, has she ever kept me active.
Life in Coolwood Acres was nothing short of amazing. (I did eat some poisonous mushrooms once that made me pretty sick. I almost didn’t make it home from the doctor’s office, but they worked overtime to find the cause of my sickness and treated me quickly and aggressively. My doctor saved my life and for that, I’ve always been grateful).
I got to play outside in a gigantic yard every day. I loved being outside but when the thermometer dipped below 30 degrees, I snuck inside where it was warm. I loved to chew, chew, and chew some more. My favorite toy was an antler my mom bought me, but naturally I lost it in our huge yard. I also loved tennis balls and any color Kong they threw my way. I’ve always been terrible about returning it to my owners because that mischievous puppy I mentioned before always stole it away from me. So, I didn’t exactly earn the title of Labrador Retriever, more like Labrador Lover.
Aside from the poisoning episode, I’ve been a picture of good health. However, this year, I started having some troubles with my bladder. I started accidentally wetting my bed at night. I just couldn’t help it. I was treated for an overactive bladder and a UTI and sent home with some antibiotics and a clean bill of health. (I did have to stop drinking so much water before bedtime).
For the last six months, this problem happened on and off, but we just patiently washed and dried my bedding every time it happened. No big deal, or so we thought. About 3 weeks ago, I started not feeling well at all. I didn’t want to eat my normal dog food anymore, but for some reason, scrambled eggs still tasted amazing. I think my family thought I was being picky and just wanted home cooked meals, but I really just didn’t feel too good. It also took me a great effort to go pee, which we all know is a pretty important function. It was almost like my body was doing the opposite now! This was so frustrating because the rest of me felt awesome and playful.
This week, my family took me in to get an ultrasound of my insides to figure out what the heck was causing this. They shaved my belly and put some gel on this wand and gave me a little massage while checking out my insides. The technician who did this drove all the way from Purdue to do this for me at my doctor’s office. (On a side note, I have the best doctors ever, they care about me so much and go over and beyond to make me comfortable there).
What they found was not good news, based on the phone call I overheard between my Mom and my doctor. It seems that an aggressive form of cancer has taken up residence inside my little bladder. The tumor has grown to a point where it is also blocking my kidney functions, and this is causing all of my discomfort with my peeing situation. By blocking the flow to my kidneys, I am unable to rid my body of toxins anymore thus making me quite nauseous. It all makes sense to us now, but unfortunately at my age, they did not think I would make it through chemotherapy or surgery. This made my family extremely sad. And me.
The doctor told my family that it wouldn’t be wrong to put me out of my suffering, and that it would be better to do it sooner than later. It was a very hard decision for everyone because the outside of my body was full of energy and didn’t match how I felt inside. My family decided to bring me home and spoil me for a couple of days, and I’m happy they did because we shared some great moments together.
The last few days have been rough around here, and I just wanna say thanks to all of the people who truly loved me. I had so many friends and family who always paid so much attention to me. I will always be grateful for you, we all know that I loved to be petted and touched an insane amount. And Poppy…..as annoying as she was that first year of being a puppy, ended up becoming my very best friend. She seems all independent and stuff, but she followed me around all day, always layed down by me, stole my sticks, always stole my tennis balls and simply just stared at me until I would play with her. (She actually kept me young, albeit exhausted). Of all the things I worry most about, it’s Poppy and leaving her alone because when Henry left me, I was so confused and sad.
As I say goodbye, I again want to say a huge sloppy thank you to everyone who loved me. I know that you know that I loved you back. (It’s one of the things I was really good at). Please come visit Poppy in the next couple months. Dogs are super smart and we feel grief and loneliness too.
I’ve heard I will be going to a place where I will feel no pain and I’m also hoping the weather doesn’t fall below zero much. I’m also excited that I get to see Henry again; he was one cool lab that I always looked up to. I will apologize to him for being the annoying pup to him because now I know how that feels. I also plan on finding the punk who stole my mom’s camera and haunting him because there were so many video and photo memories of all of us on her camera and she no longer has them. A little friendly haunting never hurt anyone, right?
I hope you all take the time to play with your pets and take care of their health. Although we can’t prevent stupid cancer, we can be on the lookout for it and try and catch it early. My wish is that the world will soon find a cure for cancer for all humans and animals.
I’m super grateful that I found a family to take me in and give me 10 of the best years of my life in the best yard ever. I shall miss the giant, picture perfect Coolwood Acres. There is no better yard in the world! I shall also miss the loud awesome music that my family played for me everyday.
Think of me often…..like when you hear that dog barking outside because a strange truck is in the neighborhood or a dog scratching on the door because it’s so cold outside. Don’t ever get annoyed by these things, it’s hard for us dogs to express our thoughts without making a mess or loud noises.
If you see my family around, they could probably use a huge hug. It was super hard to say goodbye for all of us. I feel I’ve left my mark on this Earth. (Both literally and figuratively). I hope to see you all again one day.
Love to you all. Always be kind.
PS. Can someone please make The Cubs win The World Series soon? I got tired of waiting but I hope it happens one day for my family and for all of the other Wrigleys out there.