You’ve been ill for months and even though we knew the day was coming, it doesn’t ease the pain of parting. However, let’s not dwell on your final days. I’d rather remember your zest for life.

You were a boundless ball of energy that just never slowed down. I often thought I had adopted a Greyhound, instead of a Chocolate Labrador, as I watched you zip around the yard from one end to the other. Each time praying that you wouldn’t jump the fence.

You amazed us all by stuffing your mouth with not one, not two…but three tennis balls. You delighted the neighborhood children when you played frisbee, football, basketball, golf, wiffle ball and monkey in the middle—tirelessly. In an attempt to exhaust you, at least mentally, I taught you to shake, other paw, roll over, high five, ten and crawl. You also knew how to sit, lay down and stay but you were so bone headed that you usually decided not to.

Everyday you waited at the gate for Brett to return home from school. Your soft, brown nose stuck underneath so you could watch for him. Softly, you’d call, “woo, woo” as the children walked by. It soon became known as your pathetic puppy routine. If that didn’t work you’d stand on your hind legs and hang over the fence. No one could resist your smile and lolling tongue. Not even me.

Your love of other dogs and children was endearing. You wanted to be everyone’s friend. That’s why I didn’t hesitate to adopt Wanda. You accepted her right away as a big sister. She wasn’t enough for you though, as you’d often “woo, woo” at other dogs—even those on TV. Together we taught many children how to properly approach a strange dog. When they were past their fear you’d cover them in kisses.

That reminds me of the baby squirrels. Do you remember that day? A nor’easter was blowing through and had knocked their nest out of the tree and onto our driveway. I looked outside just in time to see you gently place a baby onto the grass and nudge it with your nose. I’ve never seen squirrels so young but they all survived. Once again, you exhibited amazing gentleness and intelligence.

You may be gone but you’ll never be forgotten.