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Leonard - The Best Dog Ever

Updated on March 14, 2013

I suppose like many dog lovers, the above photo is how we all think of Leonard - one of the family. And I assume, and hope, that others are just as certain that their dog is the best dog (and that their mom is the best mom, their wife is the best wife, that their kids are the best kids, etc) as I am here asserting Leonard to be. In that regard I am just like everyone else, I think my dog is the best - where I differ from everyone else is that my dog Leonard actually is the best dog ever.

Leonard's favorite spot - the middle of everything

I've had dogs all my life, from pedigree Dobermans to rescue mutts - I've never met a dog like Leonard. First, a bit about dogs in general, and then about Labs more particularly.

I love animals. That doesn't mean I have animals all over . . . fish in a tank, hamsters in a plastic box, birds in a cage, etc - it means that I do not have fish in a tank, hamsters in a plastic box, birds in a cage, etc. I honestly don't want to offend anyone, and I certainly don't want to chase readers away, but I am being honest and straightforward - it is because I love animals that I hate to go to someone's house and see fish in a tank, hamsters in a plastic box, or birds in a cage. I simply don't 'get' how someone asserts they love animals and then keeps a bird in a cage in their house!? To me, inside my head, that seems just like saying you love books and then tossing one in the fireplace . . . you're doing something that seems totally contrary to the assertion you're making.

Dogs are the only animal it seems reasonable and good to take into our homes as pets, and here's why; every animal we 'own' as a pet, we have to chase down, capture, and restrain in some manner to count as a pet - dogs came to us, they came around our campfires and volunteered themselves to guard our children, fend off beasts, and warn us of danger, etc, for scraps of our food and companionship. The relationship between man and dog is one the dogs instigated and defined.

Leonard still in his favorite spot - but a bit older now

And no dog is as naturally inclined toward a companionship with man than Labrador Retrievers. I think Labs currently rate about the 5th or 6th smartest breed. That's very, very smart, but they're not the smartest - however, they are the top number one most trainable . . . the reason is they desire to please, they try hard to know and do what you want of them. There is no other breed that has so keen a sense of service and companionship with their master. I'm good with dogs, I've had many dogs in my life who were friendly with everyone, didn't need a leash, and would heed my commands - but Leonard was stunning.

Leonard wasn't merely friendly with everyone - he seemed to love and care for everyone. He didn't merely not need a leash - we live in a double home with a common path from the house, separating the two yards, to where both we and our neighbors park our cars . . . with no instruction Leonard would chase a ball in our yard and stop on a dime if the ball crossed that simple little path into the neighbor's yard, and look at me, only going for the ball if I said "go ahead". And he wouldn't merely heed my commands - Leonard knew things without being told . . . I had a friend over once and I set my lunch plate with a hamburger on it down on the ottoman to run upstairs for a moment. My friend asked if I wasn't concerned that my sandwich would be gone when I returned because Leonard's nose was a foot away from the hamburger he was glaring at - I told him I was not at all concerned. When I got back, to my untouched hamburger, my friend suggested Leonard must not have really wanted it after all. I ate all but the last bite, set that down on my plate and set the plate on the floor . . . Leonard stood right over the plate with his nose 6 inches from the hamburger and his eyes looking over his brow at me - when I said "go ahead" it was almost terrifying how instantly he snatched that bite up.

I have 6 kids, there were always sneakers all over the floor - Leonard would never touch one unless we gave it to him - then he would tear it to shreds in no time. But, all this without training - he knew our desires, his interest was to do good for us. We got Leonard from a rescue shelter about 14 years ago. The lady who ran the shelter would pass Leonard (Snickers, before we got him) tied to a tree everyday, often pinned against the tree by his chain wrapped around the trunk and his food and water knocked over. She would stop and untangle him from the tree and she started taking water and food with her to restock his bowls as well. Eventually, after a number of warnings, she stopped one morning and took him, brining him to the shelter.

a noble and beautiful friend

I'm not the kind of person who is inclined to this sort of musing, but it was hard not to believe that Leonard was grateful for the rest of his life that we brought him from that lonely tree and that sterile pound to a home filled with children and people who adored him. Leonard was so good to us. After raising 6 kids, one by one they all get married and move on to start their own families. Leonard was there for those kids, the best companion, and as my wife and I faced a house without a ton of kids, Leonard kept us from too harsh a transition . . . Leonard stayed with us for another year or so - and then he knew his work for this family was done.

There is hardly a sadder story in this world than a boy having to bury his dog. Leonard was the best dog ever . . . he got very slow, lost his appetite, and was hurting - but he still would get up and come to you, he still would lumber across the room to rest his head on you. It's been just over a year now since Leonard left us, and I still come home sometimes 'feeling' him running to the back-door to greet me, I still come downstairs sometimes 'feeling' him meeting me at the bottom at the stairs. Leonard was indeed a good dog - he was the best dog ever.

this was the last time Leonard would rest his head on me - it was the last time I had Leonard's head resting on me

The Christian & Private Study - A 'How To' Guide

  • 'How To Study The Bible'

  • 'The Christian Library'

  • 'Christian Life Lessons'

The Saturday Matinée

"A Preview"

1. "Mysterious Island"

2. "Horror Of Dracula"

3. "This Island Earth"

General Fussing About ~

1. "Vampires"

2. (coming soon)


"The Best Halloween Movie"

"Do I believe in love at first sight? Yes - sort of . . ."

Regular, Normal Christianity

Preface ~ "The Premise And Definitions"

1. "The Bible"

2. "God"

3. "Jesus of Nazareth"

4. "The Trinity"

5. "Man, Sin, And Spiritual Death"

6. "The Covenant, The Promise, The Covenants, And The Gospel"

7. "The Atonement - Law & Grace" (coming soon)


1. "The Seasons"

2. "Why Do We Write?"


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    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      9 years ago from Central Florida

      Mickey, with the exception of the Great Dane I grew up with, I'm a cat person.

      Recently, I've had the pleasure of getting to know a 14 year old Chocolate Lab named Jake. He was awesome! He lived a life most people don't get to live and retired in Florida. He was loving, extremely intelligent and deemed himself my protector. Unfortunately, a week after I no longer lived with his human, he had to be put to sleep. He had cancer of the spleen, arthritis and a collapsed vocal chord but the sweet guy hung on until his dad had a replacement companion for his other dog, a terrier/dalmation mix. He made sure he didn't leave this world until his daddy had a puppy to train and Lexie had a new companion.

      My office mate (the one who knows exactly what's going on when I giggle reading my email!) had a 12 year old Golden Lab. She had to put Cheyenne down a couple of months ago. My brother had a Black Lab, "Stormy" who was 13. He had to put him down a week after Cheyenne was put down. Jake, who was 14, was put down 3 weeks after that.

      It's sad that Labs don't live more than 14 years. They are the smartest, most loyal, loving dogs anyone could ever ask for. I feel your pain my friend.

      Leonard will always be in your heart. You'll see him every time you walk by those guitars. Pick one up, pretend he's sitting there and sing me some blues!

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      9 years ago from Jeffersonville PA


      You sure are smart. Well, that's my perspective anyway. And kinda sweet too.

      Leonard is playing around with my black Lab Alvin... we both have had the best dogs ever and we will join them again. Hugs, Maria

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      9 years ago from California

      Such a touching write! Thank you for sharing it with us---You all were very lucky to have found each other. I have a 10 year old mutt named Sasha--who is the best dog in the world too---As she gets older and slower I am more mindful of the time I have with her.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Hershey, Pa.


      Thank you so much - you're always very generous toward me, and I very much appreciate it.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Marcy ~ they're used for nearly everything you hear of dogs being used for . . . they are bomb-sniffers, assistant dogs to those in wheelchairs, military and police dogs, and the best search and rescue dogs (because they will not give-up until they nearly kill themselves looking for survivors). They truly are remarkable dogs, the best with children, great on farms or in apartments, and the most companionable of all dogs.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      9 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      Oh what a beautiful story about your noble friend.. this is so awesome.what a great tribute.


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thank you for telling your wishes to you and your family.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      9 years ago from Planet Earth

      What a tender story - I'm sorry you lost your dear companion. I've always heard great thing about labs, and I know they're used for guide dogs. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      is dat a german shorthaired pointer mine died yesterday 105 years old-15 years old he was not a normal dog.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      . . . and she should know . . . the 'Sarah' above is our first born - as soon as she had a couple of kids herself, they went out and got a family dog . . . I think that was because of Leonard (who is buried in her backyard).

    • profile image

      Sarah Zellers 

      10 years ago

      What a good boy.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Deborah ~ thanks so much, I appreciate your interest to take the time to leave a comment.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Reno 

      10 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Thank you for this beautiful tribute to a great dog. You were lucky to get to share a part of life with him


    • Capric222 profile image


      10 years ago

      Yeah.....I can see where you are coming from with the cat thing. I do like cats and feel some sort of affection from them, but it's nothing like a dog's affection. Your response made me think of that movie Hachi (I think that's what it's called, but I'm not really sure) have you ever watched it? It's very touching. Anyway, thank you so much for your response. I can always count on you to give me your true opinion. Thank you for that! Have a great day!


    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      Capric222 ~ I started out fine writing it, I was happy to review brining Leonard into our lives and all that he meant to our family - but I was in tears by the end as well.

      I know 'cat-people' will disagree, but I don't think cats are really ever pets or companions at all. Unlike squirrels or deer, etc, cats will interact with us, they will eat from us and let us stroke them, etc, but I don't think it's the same kind of companionship that a dog shares with us. In fact, I've had cat owners take issue with me say "my cat's different, he's just like a dog", which seems to me to prove my point.

      Cats instinctively like to be stroked, chase mice, drink milk you give them, hang around, wander off, purr, etc, and we take some of those behaviors as a relationship - I just don't see it, I think the cat likes to be stroked but he, in fact, doesn't have affection or any sort of feelings for us . . . it's just their way to hang around us.

      Dogs, I think uniquely, become part of our pack, they have a particular station and duty in the family they are part of . . . they actually care, they warn and protect, they comfort, and even discipline. And there are numerous accounts of dogs sleeping next to their master's grave for years - not getting food, not getting petted, just near one they actually care for and miss.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      kerlynb ~ we started out with Leonard thinking we were happy to provide him a good home with lots of love - half way through his time with us we realized that we were the fortunate ones, that what was really happening had to do with all that Leonard was providing us with.

    • MickeySr profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Hershey, Pa.

      leshey ~ who's that with you?

    • moonlake profile image


      10 years ago from America

      Beautiful story. We have a 13 year old lab that is now having a hard time getting around. My brother-in-law said why not put him down. We said no as long as he doesn't seem to have pain we will keep him with us. Voted Up.

    • Capric222 profile image


      10 years ago

      Very touching! I had tears in my eyes after reading this, because I can't even imagine that feeling. I know what you mean about not having pets in cages, etc. I currently don't have any pets that need to be put into any boxes or cages. What is your thought on cats? Just curious about that one and I value your opinion. I can't have any cats anyway because of the traveling we do. Anyway, Leonard was the best dog! Of course everyone thinks their dog (wife, husband, kids, etc.) are the best, but it sounds to me like you had a very special dog! I am so sorry he is no longer with you.....Take care!


    • kerlynb profile image


      10 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      Boy, this is a sad one but one that I enjoyed reading from start to end. Voted your hub up and beautiful!

      I love dogs too and have had several of them as pets since I was a kid. Our current furry friend Duncan is eight, a bit old yes, and so I'm kinda afraid that he would have to leave soon. Hopefully, not so soon.

      I'm so sure Leonard had a long and happy life with your family. Glad to know that your family took good care of him.

    • leshey profile image


      10 years ago from England

      A truly beautiful story. Thanks very much for sharing it.


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