Sad times at the dog farm. We lost one to cancer.
I've had dogs basically my whole life. Cinder was the first one that I had any say in acquiring. This morning I was part of the decision to let her leave - also my first. Like the rest of the pack, Cinder was a second-hand dog that became a first-class member of our lives. We speculated she was the runt of her litter, being slight for a Labrador Retriever, but she carried heart enough for the largest of breeds. She was both a happy and stoic dog. Sometimes she seemed to carry herself with her head down, figuratively and literally. Content to play the role of the #3 dog here on the farm, she never really took a back seat to any other.
Cinder was still water running deep. She was a casual city dog in the city and went into High Instinct Mode when traipsing rural tracts. She never demonstrated much interest in birds or varmints, but I remember the first time she heard a coyote howl. She froze solid at an open window, ears locked forward and head up. You could have crashed cymbals together behind her and not broken her attention. That was the same weekend we saw her accept a big, new bone, run to the edge of the yard, dig a hole and bury it; just like in cartoons. It was the only time I've seen a dog actually bury a bone.
She also was quite unimpressed with other dogs. During a neighborhood walk or trips to dog parks, she accepted our custom of meeting and greeting others, but she took that in stride, never strained a leash or ran ahead just for sniffs. On the rare occasion another dog might display aggression toward any of us, Cinder, the smallest of us, flashed her teeth, shot up her fur and charged forward declaring she was the one to be dealt with first. After a few seconds of that rare but warranted Ms. Hyde, she put it away and went back to her normal Doggie Jeckyl.
For Mrs. Octane and myself, Cinder was not our first dog, but she was the first that required us to face that awful decision. We thank her for enriching our lives, rounding out the pack, her companionship to the old Golden Retriever and her guidance to the young Great Dane/Mastiff/Clydesdale. They will miss her in their own ways and then move on as dogs do.
There's nothing like a good sturdy breed, and fourteen years is an excellent run for a Labrador Retriever, but it wasn't long enough.
It's never long enough.