We knew the day would come when we had to say goodbye to our dear, sweet, loving 14-year old lab, and even though we had been preparing for the past year, when the day actually came, it still seemed sudden. Talk about the long goodbye, we thought Biko wouldn’t make it to last Christmas, yet he made it to the next Labor Day. The boy would not give up. Despite a bad leg, little to no hearing, bad vision and a major elimination problem (I won’t go into details to save him some dignity), he wagged his tail madly and eagerly accepted pets and love until his last moments. Truly a dog with a huge heart.
I actually have a blog drafted with the title “When is it time to say good bye,” and I never published it because I didn’t know the answer. Now I know – when it’s time, it’s time. When Biko’s quality of life was so bad – he hadn’t left the first floor of our house, beyond hobbling to the back yard, in nine months - I knew it was time. He was sticking around for the kids and me. I think this picture – taken on his last day – shows he knew it was time.
This dog had a good life. Biko was a true “Marley and Me” dog – in looks and behavior (unfortunately). The best student in his puppy behavior class (he was all about the food reward/incentive), when we got home it was all forgotten. He jumped on our neighbors, had no grasp of the difference between the street and sidewalk, ate anything and everything – edible or not, and would often make a break for it, only to be returned by a neighbor. Our kids learned to walk while blinking their eyes as Biko’s tail was at eye level and always wagging. They were forced to guard their food, as anything was free game. He gained 10 pounds, mainly from grilled cheese sandwiches, when our kids were little. A professional vacuum cleaner, we used to bring Biko to friends’ houses after parties just for clean up.
Biko’s most famous incident was when he was about 7 and my husband was home manning the fort while I was out with friends. I got a frantic call and I immediately thought something happened to one of the kids who were probably about 2, 4 and 6 years old at the time. No, it was Biko. He had eaten a double order of chicken wings, bones, skin and all. Miraculously, he survived unscathed and no worse for the wear. He also consumed multiple Easter baskets, Christmas stocking candy contents, and Halloween candy that would have taken another dog down.
In his later years, our crazy dog finally calmed down, and I have to say I missed the old Biko. We adopted a 3-year old lab about a year ago and Chloe is a calm, sweet wonderful dog, but is so well behaved we almost don’t know what to do. She misses her friend and after Biko was gone, lied by the door for about a week, waiting for his return.
Biko never met a person, dog, or cat, he didn’t love. He brought us so much joy – it was an honor to have him in our family. Goodbye sweet boy.
A friend shared this poem with us – anyone who has lost a pet will appreciate it:
The Rainbow Bridge
There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth. It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors. Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows, hills and valleys with lush green grass.
When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place. There is always food and water and warm spring weather. All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. Her bright eyes are intent; her eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly she begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, her legs carrying her faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated.