News, updates, and happenings with the Kragnes family: Phil, our Seeing Eye Dogs, and (me) Rebecca.

Archive for September, 2015

Zane’s retirement letter

My Dear Zane, AKA Z, ZZ, Zeez, Zeezerz, Zeezerz Pup, Bongo Puppy, Black Vac, Black One, and Atomic Tail,
I’ve been putting this off all day long, but finally, I have a quiet time and space to write your retirement letter. You lie so quietly near me with a toy near you and seemingly at peace. I wish I could explain to you how things are going to change on Monday. You’ll know and greet Kathleen as always, and I’m sure you’ll know something’s up when we start gathering your toys, bowls, food, and beds and carrying them out to her car. The last thing we’ll do before you leave is take off your working collar and give Kathleen the opportunity to take any tags she desires. She’ll put on a new collar and leash and lead you out to the car. This time, I won’t be accompanying you, because I won’t want you to be anymore confused about things than youre already going to be.
It breaks my heart to do this, because I feel like I’m betraying you. But I also know Kathleen will give you a great home, and you’l have your new Black Lab “brother” to play with you and be with you while Kathleen does her parttime job. At first, she’ll have a friend check on you and gradually she’ll give you the run of the house. Most of the time, she’ll be with you both, and I understand there are lots of dog lovers in the neighborhood. She knows about your fear of water, so I know she’ll deal with that gently and kindly. She’ll also be good to you when loud noises make you shake. I’l bet she’ll take you out on leash in the rain like I have. But you probably won’t be able to get away with not coming until food is offered. She’ll be able to make eye contact. I’ll miss you terribly, but you’ve been giving me increasingly obvious signs that although you’ll do fine as a pet, your working career needs to be over. With Phil going back to work soon, I know you’d be very unhappy left here all alone and watching me leave without you.
As much as I wish Phil’s Garron hadn’t died, the side effect was that you got to be the center of our worlds for a while. It must have been nice to have full attention on you when you wanted it without being pushed aside by the love sponge. I know you were a comfort to Phil these past months, and you guys got to be buds. He could show you affection in ways I really couldn’t. At first you were afraid of his wheelchair, and now you travel beside it as his “blac sidecar”.
I’m so glad I gave you a chance despite my reservations about having a Lab. I was so accustomed to Goldens, but when I heard you were “screaming my name” to trainers, I found it petty and stupid to reject you because of the breed. You didn’t necessarily love the kind of affection I was used to giving my Goldens or show empathy in the way I was used to from them. Effusive hugs were not your style, and the only times you crawled into my lap were when I’d been away and when you were trying to tell me you wanted something. You weren’t happy about being groomed for some reason, so we probably didn’t do it as often as we should have. Still, I’ll never forget those soft, velvety, black, long, draped ears!
Your way of showing love was the dedication, loyalty, seriousness, and attentiveness you brought to your work. Despite my feeling down at times, you always seemed to know that most of the time, it had nothing to do with you. You’d work like a champion. I always told people that my Goldens worked for me, because they loved me. You loved me, because you worked for me. I’ll never forget the graveness with which you took any falls and how careful you were on the ice almost from the very first. I’ll also never forget the times when you weren’t leashed or in harness yet walked beside me every slow step when the ice built up as I came in from taking something out to recycling or trash.
You were the first to know something was wrong healthwise as I shamefully dealt with that internal growth, until it was finally discovered and removed in 2013. You always wanted to be near as I showered, because that’s when I seemed to have the most problems. I was sad to have to shut you out due to your propensity for getting ear infections.
It was fun to have all the people who knew and loved you at church as Father gave you a blessing. Sure, I wish he would have remembered during Mass, but the important part was that he explained your retirement to the congregation. Whether at Mass or the Malt Shop, you were happy to lie by the piano as long as I asked you to do so. It probably didn’t hurt that you could absorb all of the adoring looks and compliments you received.
I can’t write a letter without touching on what a foody you are, and it’s not just real food you loved. I never got the thing about the rubber gloves. I wish you could tell me why rubber gloves tasted so good to you. The chicken bones were somewhat understandable, but a dog booty bag? And how about that $80 of titheing you ate? OK, that was their fault for leaving the open purse on the floor. I’ll still never forget when you were ill, and you pulled me toward what I thought was the door. Instead, you stopped at the counter and put your nose as close as possible to the sealed can of white chicken we bought for your bland diet as if to say, “That’s what I want!!!” It brought me such pleasure to watch how enthusiastically you licked the strawberry jam off our plates this morning. We’ll likely have rolls with frosting left on our plates tomorrow morning. And perhaps a sugar cube may accidentally on purpose hit the floor in the next couple days. I know you’ll be right on it. Jen the waitress at the Malt Shop is bringing you a treat tomorrow night, and we’ll have one more treat after your last relieving time. 
I’ll miss you following me around from room to room and the satisfied sound you make as you crawl into your bed beside ours. The only side benefits will be that maybe I’ll catch up on laundry, and I’ll also be able to spend significant time downstairs without worrying about you marking near the vents where you smell the cat who used to live here. Those are small consolations, as we’ll get a carpet cleaner to get rid of that residue. The biggest one is that I know that — even though it will be rough for us both for a while, we’ll learn to be happy again in our new situations. I hope you’ll get to meet your successor someday. I’ve never had two of my partners meet, and that’s something I’d love to experience. We’ll make sure your bond with Kathleen and mine with my new dog are both strong before we can meet again. Until then, have a fantastic retirement, and show Kathleen even more of what a wonderful, smart, and sweet dog you are. 
I love you and always, always will!!!


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