I went away for a much needed bit of R&R last weekend for four days. While I was away Maitre’s much beloved Labrador stopped eating. A trip to the vet showed that she was riddled with cancer and so they had to put her to sleep. My big sweet man was crushed. In his pain he wrote me the most beautiful eulogy I have ever read. With his permission I would like to share it.



Back when I first moved to where I am now I didn’t have much money even less than I have now. My grandmother used to help out with money for this tool or that lumber or whatever we needed. I got a large metal wheelbarrow to help with things around the farm. I was actively farming anything I thought I could make a buck on at the time. The fire department job offered a good amount of time off to pursue such flights of fancy.  I had lots of help around the farm; a new puppy and an exuberant 4 year old. The puppy didn’t really help much… her contribution was more comic relief. She would often make off with a glove removed during a break just so we would chase her. The 4 year old was good for holding things when I didn’t have enough hands or running to get things when something was left behind. He could work the gate but most of the goats outweighed him so unless he got the gate latched well ahead of them they often just pushed the gate open and him down in the process. He seldom cried about it and the dog seldom turned down the opportunity to lick him when he was down. He would get up all covered with dirt and dog slobber and say “darn goats!” Then proceed to try and help me round up the escapee.

The wheelbarrow hauled lots of things. Manure from the chicken house to the compost pile, bales of hay and straw, bags of feed, rocks for building the drain tile around the frost free hydrants we were installing and firewood. We had a woodstove back then. It also hauled some very precious cargo like eggs (no we didn’t get them by the wheelbarrow load they rode with other things) and groceries when the driveway washed out but the most precious cargo was the puppy and the boy. Many rides were given just for fun and some because the pair was just too pooped to walk back to the house. One of the happiest memories I have is of the dog and the boy in the wheelbarrow taking a ride for fun. The dog would alternate barking at me and licking the boy. I never figured out whether the barking was out of terror or to make me push faster. She always got into the wheelbarrow willingly though and didn’t get out until we got where we were going. I remember after a particularly long day of putting up fence, the boy and the dog both rode back to the house in the wheelbarrow and were both asleep before we got halfway back to the house.

The farm grew and along came a tractor. A much needed tractor I might add, with a loader. The dog and the boy both rode on the tractor still helping with chores or whatever around the farm. I think the boy preferred the tractor, well, because it was a tractor. They both had pretty much outgrown the wheelbarrow. I suspect the dog thought the tractor made too much noise. She did eagerly tag along when I was bush hogging to chase whatever the tractor scared out of the brush. I had hopes that she would turn out to be a gun dog but she was horribly gun shy and hid under my desk whenever a thunderstorm would come through. Being my comic relief and companion would have to be enough.

The old metal wheelbarrow had pretty much fallen from favor after the tractor’s arrival. It still got the occasional use for mixing a bit of concrete or potting soil or getting in somewhere the tractor just wouldn’t go. The tractor broke and it took some time arguing with the manufacturer to get parts under warranty. During that time a second wheelbarrow came to help with a big project. It has not one but two wheels on the front a plastic tub and at least half again the capacity in the tub part. With all it’s geee whiz features it still lacked the character of the original one. Yeah it gets some use but it’s not my favorite.

I’m not farming as much these days…. hell I barely even plant a garden anymore. The tractor is long gone. Not from lack of need but sold to pay bills. I somehow get by without it. The new  plastic wheelbarrow sits by the shed full of some broken up bricks I have been using too fill holes in the driveway. The tires are flat and I’m sure it’s full of rainwater. The old metal wheelbarrow was in the back yard, bottom nearly rusted through, tire flat and handles just barely holding on. I’m sure the spot it is sitting in is where it stopped when the project that brought the other wheelbarrow halted. That was probably 4 years ago.  That was about the time the boy left me.

It’s funny how time passes and things change in 10 years. You expect some things to just always be there. Like the dog meeting the truck at the end of the driveway or barking at me when I came in after dark until she realized it was me. About with heart worms nearly took her at 5 years. Mostly my fault for not staying on top of her preventive medicine. I’m sorry for putting her through that suffering but she pulled through. I’d noticed over the last 6 months she’s stopped coming so far down the driveway to meet me. An aspirin during the colder months eased her arthritis pain for the last two years or so. Proin kept her from wetting her bed at night for about that same time. The last couple of days she would hardly eat. On that Friday she wouldn’t even eat hamburger and rice. When she wouldn’t eat at all I suspected it was time.

I love our vet. The vet took her temp and talked nice to her as she always does. Then came some X-rays and the explanation. The difficulty breathing was coming from a tumor in her chest. Her lymph nodes which should be barely detectable in an X-ray were as big as my thumb. Cancer was the diagnosis. There is no way to detect it early in dogs and sadly no treatment. She was working hard just to breathe lying down. I pondered calling in sick to work on Saturday and taking her home for the weekend and bringing her back on Monday. The vet said she understood wanting to but that she wouldn’t be any better tomorrow than she was today. Taking her home was fine but it wouldn’t make it any easier on Monday. She was right. She suggested we take her outside for a while and think about it.

She lay in my lap working entirely too hard just to breathe and be petted. Yes you can get 83# of lab in my lap. My wife and I talked to her and about  how she is really the one that got us together. If Cinny hadn’t given her away the night she snuck up to the house she would have just gone home and changer her number. I would have never heard from her again. We both cried and loved on Cinny but then it was time. It sure was a long walk back inside the Vet’s office. I love our vet. They put us in the room in the older back part of the office away from the other folks and gave us another couple of minutes. The doc asked if we wanted to stay, of course the answer was yes. She explained how the procedure worked and what to expect. All her life Cinny never snapped or bit anyone no matter how bad she was hurting. Today was no exception. She just lay on the table wagging her tail as the vet shaved the spot on her leg and gave her the injection. After the drug had done its job the vet offered a bag to put her in. I just couldn’t do it so I cut 2 sides of the bag, opened it flat and put it in the back seat. I scooped her up and put her in the back seat. She loved to ride.
When I got home, I got the steel handled shovel. It really is a pleasure to dig with if such a thing is possible. Cinny had a favorite spot to sit in the shade and watch me in the garden. It seemed only right that she should spend the rest of her days there. The spot isn’t really accessible with the car and it was really to far to carry her. I had some precious cargo to move. So I went and got the old steel wheelbarrow. I could have just aired up the tires on the plastic one and dumped the bricks out but it just didn’t seem right.