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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