The greatest dog ever. On this there can be no debate.
Fifteen years ago...(you can probably see where this is going.)
Fifteen years ago, my wife and I went to an animal shelter here in the Pioneer Valley and rescued a nine-month old Labrador/Dalmatian mix. She was all black except for a spotted belly and the tops of her paws. We named her "Abbe."
Through the years, she was a great, loyal, playful, hilarious, protective, great companion. (Did I say "great" twice? Yes I did.) She was as active as a Dalmatian but not (too) aggressive and then she would be as gentle as a Labrador around my kids. She was banished to the floor at bedtime but would sneak up during the night and we surrendered to the inevitable. She loved to walk and smell and smell and smell.
I remember my late father teasing Abbe by slowing starting a question: "Do you...?" which was enough to telegraph that a walk was coming. I remember running after her when she slipped the leash at Lake George. Her last-in-class finish at obedience school. When you got her wound up, she would run up and down the stairs in crazy laps of boundless energy. Gosh, she was fun.
Six months ago, she couldn't run anymore and soon afterwards couldn't go on long walks. Two months ago, she couldn't walk at all and then she couldn't stand. We had to prop her up for eating and the results of eating. Then, most recently, Abbe was inconsolable when off her pain medication and we knew what had to be done.
The staff at Valley Vet in Hadley were wonderfully sympathetic and Abbe was put to sleep so peacefully. Now, I'm left here with a half-box of the Natural Choice Senior biscuits she adored and memories of a destroyer of rugs, devourer of table scraps, and all-around marvelous companion.