He came into our lives on a cool October afternoon almost 12 years ago. Louie had chosen him from the litter because he was the biggest and friendliest of the bunch. The minute we set eyes on him, we were shamelessly in love.
Over the years, Luke grew into this big “lug,” who would lumber around the house, knock things over, keep us company in the kitchen or the garden. He loved to curl up at our feet when we were working on our computer or reading a book. He joined us for long walks along trails or just around the neighborhood.
When we went to the farm, he’d get a real kick at being able to run around such a wide open space, go for a swim, or ride on the boat with Louie. I’d go off to buy some fresh fruits and produce and we’d all go home tired, sticky, smelly, but content.
In the past year, Luke’s energy has waned somewhat. Going up even a mild incline would be punctuated by pauses and lots of panting. Then the “accidents” in the kitchen started, at first here and there, nothing to sneeze at. But in the recent months, it has been weekly. We can see he really wants to do his business outside the house when he tries to make a run for it. But somehow, he just doesn’t make it in time. It has gotten to the point wherein we don’t even say much anymore when it happens. He sits quietly, head hung low, with doleful eyes, as he waits for us to finish cleaning up the mess.
He has also gotten into the habit of nibbling on my flower pots. Of all things! He used to keep me company when I worked in the garden. Back then, he never touched the plants. Nowadays, no plant is sacred anymore. He has dug up the large pots and toppled over the smaller ones.
Last month, while we were away on vacation, Luke was taken to the Pet Hospital in the middle of the night. He had apparently collapsed in the yard and was only semi-conscious when our nephew found him. It had been a hot day and it sounds like he forgot to drink. ((Yes, he forgets these things every now and then.) We talked to the vet a few days later. He has severe arthritis and likely an aging heart. We have done our best to keep him healthy and fit, considering that Gold Labs tend toward coronary heart disease and obesity. If he were human he’d be about 84 years old now. We were informed that the health problems will happen more and more often in the next few months.
When we came home, we were welcomed by a smiling dog with bright-eyes, tongue out, butt and tail wagging. He seemed like his old self, only slower and more tentative.
In the past two weeks, he’s been his usual sweet self. His way of cuddling is to sit very close to my body while I work in the kitchen. He would run his cheek up and down my thigh. I’d give him a pat and he would raise his head and give me the biggest lick! When we are eating dinner, he sits right at Louie’s feet, even on top of his feet.
My dear, dear friend. I can’t even think of how it would be when the time does come and we have to bid adieu to you.