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I don't think a man has really lived until he has had at least one good dog. Can't explain it, but if you know you don't have to...mrbear

Then I have lived and lived exquisitely well, having had my wonderful three black dogs in my life for the last 14, 13, and 6 years.

Sadly, the oldest black lab, Aggie, was diagnosed with a large malignant mass in her lung just last week.

She is terminal. To try to aggressively treat advanced cancer in a 14 year old dog to buy 6 more months instead of the 1 month that she probably has, to me would be an injustice, if not inhumane.

She's been my protector, she's mothered me in times of despair, she's given me the gift of being my intrepid hunting companion. She graciously introduced me to the simple joy of treading through golden prairies and marshes on sharp autumn days, she ranging ahead of me, all glossy black intensity, looping back and forth, intently looking for scent.

I simply loved to watch her hunt, responding to that deep innate genetic call, born of generations of hunting stock, that gave her the tremendous natural ability she possessed in the field. Watching her lovely strong movement and laser-like focus when she flushed a bird, was truly the joy of the hunt...the bird in the bag was just so immaterial.

She has shown me love and devotion beyond anything I have ever experienced in life and probably beyond what I deserve.

I struggle to balance my deep sorrow in anticipation of losing her so soon, with trying to determine just when she is in a place where mercy and love should compel me to send her to a gentle death. I pray I have the strength and wisdom to do the right thing and not hang on too long out of my own selfish need.

(Sorry for all of this....but this has been weighing very heavily on me these past days, and this crazy board....well, I think you'll either understand me, or forgive me, or just politely ignore me.)

Ironically, as I was getting caught up on the boards from being out of town most of the week, I stumbled across the following. I wish I could remember who the Fool was that used it as the favorite quote in their profile, but alas, I don't:

"Eulogy on the Dog" One of the most famous speeches, ever made by the late Senator George G. Vest, of Missouri, was made in the course of a trial of a man, who wantonly shot a dog belonging to a neighbor. Senator Vest represented the plaintiff, who demanded $200.00 damages. When Senator Vest finished speaking, the Jury, after two minutes deliberation, awarded the plaintiff the sum of $500.00

The full text of the speech follows:
- Gentlemen of the Jury:- The best friend a man may have in this world may turn against him, and become his enemy. His son, or his daughter that he has reared with loving care, may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one unselfish friend that a man can have, in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful, or treacherous, is his dog. Gentlemen of the Jury; a man's dog, stands by him in prosperity, and in poverty-in health, and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry
winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer; he will lick the sores and wounds that come encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master, as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation
falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love, as the sun is in its journey through the heavens. If fortune drives his master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege, than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in it's embrace, and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all friends pursue their way, there by his graveside, will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alter watchfulness, faithful and true, even unto death.

Good night all. I'm going to lay down with that old black dog, together on the bedroom floor, for a little while and hold her while I still can...3bd
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