Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My 84-year-old Labrador Retriever

Kelev, my almost 12-year-old (84 human years!) Chocolate Labrador retriever, really struggled on our walk today. I had to bribe her with treats to encourage her to make an effort. My husband and I have always believed that “motion is lotion” – when we give up trying, we might as well curl up under a rock. So we keep taking Kelev out even if it’s only for 5 minutes.

The extreme heat this summer is particularly hard for dogs to manage and Kelev is very ill with cancer and arthritis. But her tail is constantly wagging and her appetite is voracious! Of course, if she were in obvious pain, I wouldn’t force her. My husband and I would also make the decision to put her down because we don’t want her quality of life to suffer.

I remember when Kelev was a young puppy! She was the runt in the litter … so small that she couldn’t get up a small curb by herself. In fact, she was so tiny that she would often sit in her food bowl to eat. And, from day one, she was so sweet and determined to please us. It was a long drive home from the breeders to our house but she refused to pee in my lap. She waited until we got home and put her on the front lawn before she did her business.

There are so many wonderful memories of Kelev. We were at my parents’ place several years ago and Kelev was in her usual spot at meal times … at the feet of the person cooking. My step-dad was carving the roast and all of a sudden, the roast slipped off the carving board. I’ve never seen her move faster. She took off with the roast and gobbled it back in what appeared to be a couple of bites. Guess what – the rest of us ate pizza for dinner that night! All of us still laugh when we recall the stolen roast.

Kelev loves to swim. It’s as if she’s pain free in the water. Even today, she was suddenly energetic when we got to the creek and she could cool off. Just the other day, my husband was walking the dogs in the neighbourhood and Kelev took off in to someone’s backyard. Sure enough, they had a pond in their yard and Kelev was lounging in the water as if she didn’t have a care in the world. My husband snapped her photo and I’ve attached it here. My apologies to my neighbours who were still sound asleep at 6:00 am for the uninvited guest.

Kelev - chocolate Labrador Retriever

It’s the wonderful memories of Kelev that will keep us going after she dies. I know I will be a basket case for several days (if not weeks) but I will treasure the life she shared with our family.

Author: Karyn Climans
Tail Wags Helmet Covers Inc.

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