Emily Wyckoff

The end of an era – goodbye sweet boy.

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.


25 Responses to “The end of an era – goodbye sweet boy.”

  1. moosenana says:

    I went thru the same thing a few years ago with our beloved Yellow Lab, Zek, after losing my husband first. I know they are together and though I have so much love here on earth, look forward to the day when I will join them and we’ll all go over the Rainbow Bridge together..

  2. Plan B Mom says:

    @Moosenana – Me too! I miss our beloved cat every day and hope he and Biko are together.

  3. Ruby says:

    We have Maggie, a shepherd/lab mix. Our girl is a little over 14 yrs old. It is coming soon for us too. Its not the first for us, but this one is going to be really hard. She is such a huge part of our family. She is my baby-girl. It’s just not her time yet, but we are getting close. She too has problems with her legs, arthritis, etc, but just keeps going on. It makes me so sad, but what

  4. Brenda says:

    My Bichon, Baylee, died suddenly on Easter two years ago. I miss her every day and every night. She would sleep with her paw in my hand. She was a crazy, psycho dog that would have bitten someone who was trying to hurt me. A piece of my heart died that day. Love you, Baylee. Wait for me at the bridge.

  5. pkb143 says:

    My sincerest sympathies are extended — read this with tears in my eyes. I just went through this May 7 with my 16.5 year-old Shih-Tzu. We had a very special bond I’ve not had with any other pet and it was so difficult. I’ve cried for months and only now am I smiling and laughing again — got a new pupppy on August 26 and she’s helped tremendously. I still miss Nugget every single day. I know your heart is broken but please know, it absolutely will get better and there are so many of us out there who share your pain. Don’t apologize or be embarrassed by your grief, which studies have shown can be equal to or worse than losing a family member. ((Big Hug))

  6. Michael says:

    I lost my 18 year old Beagle several years ago – we had him before we had our children and my son said it was like losing his brother. Bentley was very protective of our son when he was younger and as an adopted humane society dog he had obviously been abused before we got him. I remember when he lept into my wife’s arms st the shelter and we knew we had found our little buddy. he is missed every day – we have a new dog – Barney another beagle and also a rescue dog – he is a little bundle of joy as well and look forward to many years with him. I really hope that eternal life does allow us to reconnect with our pets because I truly believe they have souls just like us. Anyone who can look into their eyes and say they don;t just isn’t looking.

  7. Karen says:

    Me too!!!! I miss my Lab Astro also. He was one of the best buddies anyone could ever ask for.

  8. Chibosh says:

    We just had to say goodbye to our furry family member of 11 years about 4 weeks ago (for many of the same reasons you mentioned above). We lost her little mate to cancer 6 years ago. You are absolutely right about how sudden that final day is. Whether it’s due to old age or cancer, you try to get yourself prepared for that goodbye. However, even when you know it’s coming, it still kinda smacks you right between the eyes. I just wish they wouldn’t find all the energy they didn’t have for the previous x-several months when they go prancing into the vet like a 2-year-old puppy! Here’s to the funny, not-so-funny, slobbery, and forever special moments they bring to our lives.

  9. dustisl says:

    Know that all of our wonderful friends are together having a great time, waiting for us. I have lost 6 dogs with the last one 2 yrs ago. It never gets easy and you always wonder if you will know if it is time. But you do know, they tell you in their own way. You will always miss them, but they will always be with you in your heart.

  10. Alex says:

    We went through the same thing just a couple weeks ago. We had to put down our yellow lab, Austin after 14 years. And just like you we thought because we were already preparing for the day we knew would be coming…we really were not ready. But he gave us this look and laid down and at that moment we all knew it was time.
    Now we have a couple imprints of his paw, his leash and lots of great memories!!

  11. faith says:

    we had to say goodbye to our sweet boy smokey in may, we only had him 3 months when he died from abuse that he had to tolerate before we rescued him, he had a hairline fractures in his neck and one broke as he jumped out of a chair.he was truly loved in that short time we had him, miss him every day.

  12. vera kyle says:

    I’m am so very sorry ,I know that kind of pain

  13. Lmorgan says:

    My daughter and I went through this very thing about a month ago. Our truly beloved Jasper, Italian Greyhound would have been 10 on Sept. 11. We rescued each other when he was 7 months old and was the absolute best Friend ever! I am truly sorry for your loss! But knowing they are at peace and no more pain!

  14. Dawn says:

    I went through the same thing in December of last year. We lost our beloved Conan. He was our baby for 17 years. I still miss him very much, Though he’s gone he will never be forgotten.

  15. Kim Houston says:

    Can I share: LEND ME A KITTEN
    I will lend to you for a while a kitten, God said. For you to love while he lives, and mourn when he’s dead. Maybe for 12 or 14 years, or maybe two or three. But will you, ’till I call him back, take care of him for me? He’ll bring his charms to gladden you and should his stay be brief, you’ll always have his memories as solace for your grief.
    I cannot promise he will stay, since all from earth return. But there are lessons taught below I want this kit to learn.
    I’ve looked the whole world over in search of teachers true. And from the folk that crowd life’s land I have chosen you. Now will you give him all your love, not think the labour vain?
    Nor hate me when I come to take my kitten home again? I fancied that I heard them say, “Dear Lord, thy will be done.” For all the joys this kitten brings, the risk of grief we”ll run.
    We’ll shelter him with tenderness, we’ll love him while we may. And for all the happiness that we have known, forever grateful stay.
    But should you call him back, much sooner than we planned. We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes, and try to understand.
    If, by our love we’ve managed your wishes to achieve. Then in memory of him whom we loved, please help us while we grieve.
    When our cherished kitten departs this world of strife.
    Please send yet another needing soul for us to love all his life.

  16. Marilyn Morris says:

    I just watched Marley & Me for the first time yesterday, and cried at the end.
    This so reminds me of the movie, and I could just picture how sweet a dog Biko was, and the picture of him on his last day just broke my heart. I’m so sorry for your loss. Pets are family, and it’s never easy to let them go to the Rainbow Bridge..

  17. Eva Trowbridge says:

    Ten years ago Rusty, lab/Beatle came to live with us. He was love-personified and the ONLY thing that upset him was a man wearing a ball cap. We live in a VERY small town so we didn’t have to keep him fenced. On Easter Morning he didn’t come home and my husband found him dead in the highway in front of my church. We were inconsolable and then three days later a sheriff deputy who we know knocked on the door asking for Rusty. It seems the deputy would let Rusty ride in the deputy car with him at night. Ever seen a 250-pound deputy cry?. I still miss him even though I now have three dogs, Maggie (blind dachshund), Maggie (fat lab) and Sitka (chow/huskie). Even now just thinking about him hurts and I wonder what I will do when I lose one of my three musketeers.

  18. Eva Trowbridge says:

    I had to write this after reading about the OOPS! Forgot my two black cats, one I’ve raised since someone threw his mom and three siblings from a car into a four-lane highway a year ago. My husband brought him (Newberry) home, eyes just barely opened. My first experience bottle feeding, weaning and training. Newberry would sleep on my shoulder and even now doesn’t realize he’s a lot bigger than he used to be when he would fit on my shoulder. (Newberry is the name of the road Ron found him on.) Now I just hold his behind with my arms so he can still sleep on my shoulder!!
    Had to share this since reading “Lend Me a Kitten.”

  19. Melissa Angelo says:

    I had to put my 13 year old american pitbull terrier down in 2005. I was 22 years old. Her hips gave out and she couldn’t move. I will never forget that day, holding her, and feeling her life slip away. We were cheek to cheek. I still think of her almost every day, but it isn’t a thought of sadness or mourning. I smile when I think of her howling, “I love you” or keeping balloons up in the air with her nose.. You will smile when you think of Biko. A pet really is the best friend you will ever know.

  20. Linda says:

    We lost our sweet Charlie on Sept. 19, 2012. He was a 14 year old Shepard/Lab mix. Putting him down was a heartbreaking decision to make, but in the end the right one. Toward the end Charlie loved being out on the front patio with us and just watching the other animals in the neighborhood pass by and come to say hello to him. Our two cats were with him all that day (very unusual for them) and are very attentive now that their brother has passed. We delight in the memories we made together, but it’s awfully hard to go for those walks by myself. We take comfort in the fact that he is now with our extended family that has also passed and never had a chance to know him.

  21. Tom says:

    We had a black poodle and when Andy died some of my wife and I died. I received a copy of The Rainbow Bridge, personalized it with Andy and Mommy’s boy, some photos and had it all framed for a Christmas present to Andy’s mommy, my wife Pat.
    It took us five years to heal enough for another dog; now Puppy Boy is just as loved!
    My prayers are with you and your family!

  22. Debbie says:

    We lost our little boy last summer and he is so still in my heart.
    Was Trigger Boy. He was all black and a little dog with from paws
    Like a seal. I loved him so much, and Yes Rachael you know when
    It is time. I have had many dogs in my lofe and still do, but Trigger
    Was so very hard to let go of because he was only seven.
    Sorry for your loss. Debbie williams

  23. Debbie says:

    I was crying through all that normally I can spell. I could talk about
    Trigger all day if I could get through my tears. Great show. Debbie

  24. JAG 512 says:

    I’m a first-time dog owner (seemed like a great idea to the boys and I after my divorce), and I currently have two half-siblings, who are two months apart. Reading all of these posts is breaking my heart, thinking of the day when I will have to let them go and hopefully that’s at least a decade from now. Pets really do become part of your family – mine each have distinct, totally different personalities, just like my sons do, and we all cherish them both. I am so sad for all of you who have lost a best friend like this, but I respect those who know when it’s time to let a pet go. So sorry for the loss of your beloved pet. <3

  25. Plumbroke Needmore says:

    Mark Twain said, “The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven not man’s.” God is love and, although I’m crazy about kitty cats & other pets, my heaven wouldn’t be complete without dogs.

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