Where do I begin?
I suppose I start with how you came home to live with us and stole our hearts!
We had a black lab puppy named Lobo.  He got leukemia and nothing we tried worked,
so we ended up sending him on to the Rainbow Bridge without us.
Then we got another black lab puppy named Lobo II.  Despite having all of his shots
he contracted parvo and so he went on to the Rainbow Bridge too.
So, for 15 years we were a "dogless" home.
Then my sister, Jadine, asked if she could give me a puppy for Christmas of 1987. 
I was all for it but was afraid to ask your Dad...no need to worry; he immediately said yes!
So off we went to The Puppy Place where there was a litter of three black labs and
"who knows what" mixed puppies about two months old: two little girls and one little boy.
The girls were raising a ruckus but the little boy was sitting there so quiet I just had to pick
him up.  He put his little head on my neck and when I said "Do you want to go home with me?"
he kissed me.  Stole my heart that very moment! So, that was the day you came home to live
with us and we named you Blackie.  Of course, being responsible parents, you did have all
your shots and were neutered.
I soon found out that puppy proofing the house is quite similar to baby proofing one! I found
out quickly what I forgot...but you never got in trouble; you were just too danged sweet! 
Anyway, after a year, you got sick one night and we made a trip to the emergency clinic.
They said you had gastritis and gave you medication.
On Thanksgiving of 1988 you got sick again, so it was off to the emergency clinic again...
only this time they were worried.  I was given stacks of paper containing bloodwork results
and tons of exrays; you were dehydrated so they gave you a whammy dose of "something"
and some antibiotics that made you sleep all night through.
The next morning we were at Dr. Ault's and he was not really happy about your bloodwork
and exrays.  We ruled out diabetes (do you know how hard it was to get a urine sample in a
clean dish?) and some other things that I can't even remember.  The final diagnosis: 
addison's disease  -- the adrenal glands on your kidneys ceased to function.  Your Dad wanted
me to ask Dr. Ault if you were going to make it because if you weren't, he didn't want you to
suffer and  was going to send you to the Rainbow Bridge to join Lobo and Lobo II and to wait for us. 
Of course I lied and said "Oh yes, no problem!" when I really didn't know.  Oh I eventually
told your Dad the truth..that Dr. Ault didn't know if you'd make it or not...but he knew all
along that I had lied.  Bless his heart; I love him so.
So, after rounds of bloodwork and playing around with doses and types of medications, we
finally found a combination that worked.  Oh, we had our times when you needed to go to
the Vet, you needed special food, you needed bloodwork every six months (or whenever I
thought something was going wrong....I learned all the warning signs), your prescription
bills were outrageous, and I'm sure that we spent in the 5 figures over the 10-1/2 years we
had you (9-1/2 of those years you had addison's) and you know what my beloved Blackie? We'd
do it all over again.  Did you also know my sweet baby that the longest a dog has survived with addison's...according to the Veterinary Association...is 4 years?  Yep! You outbeat everyone by
showing  how strong you were by beating the odds and staying with us and loving us for 9-1/2
more years after you were diagnosed.
In April 1998 I had to take you back to the emergency clinic and you stayed for three days with
pancreatitis.  Then you came home again.  We sure did miss you because they wuldn't let us
see you while you were in the hospital.
On June 10, 1998 I came home from work and your Dad said you were vomiting; not an
unusual occurance given your disease.  But when I went to clean it up, it was blood.  We
rushed you to Dr. Ault and he said you were bleeding internally.  The last time I saw you, you
were laying on the floor with those sad brown eyes kind of pleading with me not to leave you,
but I had to.  I kissed you goodbye and said I would see you in the morning.  Dr. Ault, bless
his heart, stayed with you all night even though his clinic is not an emergency one, even
making trips quickly to other emergency clinics to get medications he had run out of.
We'll never, ever forget this!
I got "the" call that everyone dreads at 6:10am on June 11th.  We had lost you, despite all of
Dr. Ault's efforts, at 5:00am.  Oh yes! I screamed and hollered and just about had a nervous
breakdown.  Your Dad, usually a gruff man who loved you with all his heart, was silent
when I called to tell him.  He hurt as much as I did!
But, I did manage to calm down enough to go see Dr. Ault to OK your necropsy, pathology
tests, toxicology tests, and your cremation.  It was the hardest thing I've ever done.
Our wonderful, loving, beautiful baby...we miss you so much!  You have a place of honor in
our living room with a black lab angel to watch over you...a gift from a dear friend I used to
work with named Diane.
You brought so much joy and mischief into our lives...you will never be forgotten. 
You still have a place in our hearts that will forever be yours.
Until Dad and I see you at the Rainbow Bridge....we love you and miss you very much!
RAINBOW BRIDGE
There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth. It is called the Rainbow Bridge
because of it's many colors.  When a beloved pet dies that pet goes to the Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills with lush green grass for all of our special friends
so  they can run and play together.  There is plenty of food, water and sunshine,
and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor.
Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing...they each miss someone very special to them who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and
looks into the distance.  His bright eyes are intent.  His eager body quivers. 
Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass,
his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet,
you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.
The happy kisses rain upon your face.  Your hands again caress the beloved head,
and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from
your life but never absent from your heart.  You then cross Rainbow Bridge...together!
Author Unknown
You and your Dad...in your favorite chair!
05/01/2002
Thank You so much Carol!