Straight to My Heart: A Black Lab Story

It is time. After agonizing over it for two days and mulling over it for several months, I am spending the whole day with her to make sure I made the right decision. What if I made the decision too soon? I don’t know what I am going to do without her. Oh no, there she goes down again. No, I made the right decision. I don’t want her to suffer anymore.

It was a cold blustery day in January when I first saw her. I didn’t want a large dog. I wanted a lap dog. But when I found out she would be euthanized if no one took her, I agreed to go see her. I could always say no, right? We went out to the shed where the mother dog and her three puppies were staying, and the owner handed me a small, shiny black bundle of fur. She was so soft and her eyes were closed as she was only a few days old. I clutched her to my chest and she burrowed her head down inside my coat….and straight to my heart. She was my dog from that moment on. I went back to get her three weeks later. Rather young to be separated from the mother but the mother was young and had refused to feed the pups anymore. So she was already on soft dog food.

She was such a pretty dog; soft, shiny black fur with a white cross on her chest and white tips on her paws. Her mother was a purebred miniature black lab who only weighed 45 lbs and her dad was a big stray golden lab. By the looks of her paws she was going to be bigger than her mom. It took me a week to pick just the right name for her. I rejected all the common black dog names such as Midnight or Blackie and even Ebony. I had a gemstone that was shiny black with a white cross in it. It was a black sapphire called Black Star of India. That fit her perfectly. That was her official name but her nickname became India.

I knew nothing about training a dog, but I did all right. It was a good thing Labs are a very intelligent dog. I took her outside and repeated the word potty enough that soon all I had to do was ask her if she had to go potty and she’d run to the door. It wasn’t long before she was telling me she had to go. She would come over and bark and then stare at me. If I didn’t get up soon enough she’d come over and bop me with her nose, then bark and jump up and down and head for the door.

India loved to sit in my lap and cuddle up but that didn’t last very long. By the end of the first year she was 60 pounds. Labs are puppy-like for a long time so she never understood why she couldn’t lay in my lap anymore! She loved to play tug of war with a towel. She would growl and snarl and act so ferocious but it was all show. She was so gentle little kids could pull her tail or try to ride her like a pony and she never batted an eye.

Dogs are very good at sensing your moods, and India was better than a therapist when I encountered some difficult periods in my life. She was always right there by my side with unconditional love.

And then it was my turn to be by her side and comfort her. I had to put India down when she was about 15 years old. That was around 12 years ago and the emotions still come flooding back... even now. It was one of the hardest decisions I have made but she was having many strokes and it was time to let go. I still remember being on the floor beside her as they gave her the injections, talking to her and caressing her head until she closed her eyes. That image haunted me for many years but I am glad I was with her. India was a very special dog and she will always have her own special place in my heart.

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Comments 36 comments

wildbill50 profile image

wildbill50 7 years ago

Thanks for writing such a touching story. I too had a dog years ago that had quite the personality.Your story triggered a lot of memories,warmth in my heart and a tear in my eye!

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 7 years ago Author

Thanks wildbill50. I cried while writing the story! But most of the memories are happy ones. Thanks again for reading my story. Your comments make it worth the time it took to put it together!

ThePartyAnimal profile image

ThePartyAnimal 7 years ago

That is such a touching story and I understand so well - I just wrote a lens at Squidoo about my Senior Dog Bailey who is 14 years old now and I know my time is limited with her - it is so hard.

Thepetguide 7 years ago

(Yes) that is one of the best story of a pet that i have read in a long time remine's me of my blacky i had when i was a kid . thank you for shareing with us.

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 7 years ago Author

Thank you ThePartyAnimal for reading and commenting on my story. Any animal owner eventually has to go through the same thing.... and it is hard. Just spend as much time as you can with Bailey and treasure every minute.

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 7 years ago Author

Thanks Thepetguide. Hope your memories are all happy ones. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

shibashake profile image

shibashake 7 years ago

I love this story. And what a beautiful name - it really suits her so well. If only more dog owners would try to cultivate a special bond with their dog that is based on cooperation, mutual trust and respect.

Thank you for sharing your lovely girl's story with us. It was sad but very touching and inspirational.

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 7 years ago Author

Thank you shibashake for your wonderful comments about India's story. We animal lovers all share the same bond with our animal friends and we are so lucky to have them in our lives.

Camping Dan profile image

Camping Dan 7 years ago

I totally understand and know how you feel. The best dog I ever had was diagnosed with bone cancer in Dec and I had to put her down in Jan. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do but I know she is not suffering now.

I did have doubts about ever getting another dog, but last month a man from a shelter gave me a young girl who was going to be put down because nobody wanted her. She is not my old pal but she is something special in her own way.

amandamgr86 profile image

amandamgr86 7 years ago from pensacola,fl

This is a really wonderful story!!!!

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 7 years ago Author

Thanks for reading my story Camping Dan. So sorry to hear about your dog. I haven't tried to replace India. Maybe when I retire and stay home more I might try another one. Nice to hear you rescued one from being put down. There are so many out there who need good homes.

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 7 years ago Author

Thanks so much amandamgr86 for taking the time to read India's story.

ljrc1961 profile image

ljrc1961 7 years ago from Michigan

What a beautiful story. It brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for putting into words what so many of us feel when this time in our life comes with our pets.

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 7 years ago Author

Thank you ljrc1961 for taking the time to read about India. Your comments are appreciated. It was hard to write this story but on the other hand it was wonderful to remember all the good times we had. Thanks again.

seamist profile image

seamist 7 years ago from Northern Minnesota

Hi Rose

Your story brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry you had to put her to sleep. You sound like such a great mom, I am sure she anxiously awaits you in heaven some day. Although I don't have a Black Lab, I do have a Golden Retriever, and actually labs and retrievers are quite a bit like personalty-wise.

I also have another dog, Nickie. She is half Rotweiller-half Sheperd. Because of her breed, she has two rear torn knee ligaments. She's in pain so I had to face the same decision as you. When I asked the vet what I should do, he said, "I bet Nickie would say no." So I didn't do it. Thankfully, the Retriver is still such a puppy, she keeps Nickie active. Great hub!

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 7 years ago Author

Thank you for the kind comments seamist. You sound like a good Mom too. I sure you will make the right decision for Nickie too when the time comes. Thanks again for reading India's story and taking the time to comment.

Seira Girl profile image

Seira Girl 6 years ago from North Carolina

What a touching story! I've had to do the same thing, and unless you're an "animal person", like us, you can't explain how it feels - almost like you want to go with them! India was very lucky to have you, and you were very lucky to have her for 15 years! Best to you!

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 6 years ago Author

Thank you Seira Girl for reading India's story. The bond between humans and their pets is magical. I was lucky as I'm sure you were too. From one pet lover to another, thanks again for reading and commenting and best of luck to you too.

Rose 6 years ago

I can understand how you feel about your dog last may I lost my pit bull with cancer. He was the best dog I ever had and miss him every day so I decided to look into a rescue dog and found a pit bull lab mix that I put in for adoption I'm looking forward to the day they say I can come and get her. all dogs need love and care like all people.

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 6 years ago Author

Thank you Rose. You definitely understand what it feels like to lose your best friend. Good for you for rescuing a dog and giving her a good, loving home! Thanks for reading and commenting. May you have many years of enjoyment with your new dog.

oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 6 years ago from australia

Rose Kolowinski. Hi. What an absolutely beautiful tribute to India, She is probably around out there barking and smiling for you.

Having to make the decision that is best for your animal is the hardest thing, trying not to let your heart rule your head, I have been in that situation and it was not nice.

Labs are beautiful, intelligent,great company and the unconditional love that they give is priceless.

She was very fortunate to have had you to take care of her all of her life.

The photographs are wonderful.

I loved your story (tears still running down my face).

Thank you so very much for sharing her with us, It must have been so very hard to do that. :) :)

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 6 years ago Author

Thank you oliversmum for your kind comments. All animal lovers know exactly how hard it is to make this decision. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment.

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OreoCookieMom 6 years ago

Thanks for writing this touching story. We faced a very similar situation with our 15 year old Pepper. He was the perfect dog. His health went downhill quickly at 15 and we also had to make the heartbreaking decision to put him down. It was hard on our whole family, including Pepper's daughter Cookie, who hasn't been the same since.I'm inspired to write my own page in tribute to Pepper.

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 6 years ago Author

Thank you for reading India's store OreoCookieMom. I look forward to reading Pepper's tribute.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Rose K~~ Thank you for giving me the impetus to write my tribute to ALVIN (an INDIA look alike...) whose birthday would have been today... I am anxious to have my "smart" friend come over soon to show me how to get his (& his sister's sweet face on my HUB) so everyone can see their beautiful faces ~~ as you have done such a great job. I am so inspired at the awesome stories I am reading~~ I am struck at the similarities with our labs in their intuitiveness in knowing just when we need them most~~ thank you.

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 5 years ago Author

Thank you, marcoujor for reading India's story. I will check in later to read Alvin's story!

veronica 5 years ago

what a beautiful story... Touched my heart. Animals are like angels here to protect us and make you feel loved unconditionally. India is waiting patiently to walk you across those pearly gates. I have a 1 yr old yellow lab marley... He's a big baby who makes me laugh everyday... I'l treasure my days with him. God bless u for being a great dog owner.

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 5 years ago Author

Thank you for stopping by veronica and reading India's story. Appreciate the comments. You have a lot of good times ahead with Marley!

Matt Stan profile image

Matt Stan 4 years ago from Colorado

Great hub, thanks for the touching story. I relate this to my black lab, his name is Gamgee

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 4 years ago Author

Thanks Matt Stan for reading India's story. I'm sure your black lab Gamgee will be a great friend! Love his name!

pragya94 profile image

pragya94 4 years ago from gujarat,india

loved ur story..animals always do unconditional love.and thts y thy r so soecial

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 4 years ago Author

Thank you pragya94 for your comments.

TheLabExperiment profile image

TheLabExperiment 4 years ago from ALameda, CA

I said good bye to my beautiful boy almost 1 year ago and it still breaks my heart. Thank you for sharing your story and here's to many more wonderful memories.

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 4 years ago Author

Thank you TheLabExperiment for reading India's story and sharing yours. Your comments are appreciated.

DANI 3 years ago

great story for me.i wish i also could get a black lab.but only a scoundrel could give a dog the name {INDIA}B-A-N-D-E M-A-T-A-R-A-M

Rose Kolowinski profile image

Rose Kolowinski 2 years ago Author

Thank you for reading and commenting. Her whole name is Black Star of India which is a black sapphire.

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